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Agile Computing: Article

Oz Post Reportedly Messing with Digital Rival’s Ownership

The two Ozzie companies already handle mail for banking, insurance, utilities, telecommunications, and government

Well, well, well, fancy that. Australia Post is reportedly trying to buy a piece of the Digital Post Australia (DPA) joint venture set on rivaling its coming Digital Mailbox and challenging its mail monopoly.

DPA's partners are the US start-up Zumbox, which is kicking in its platform after failing to persuade New Zealand Post to use it; the Australian arm of the multibillion-dollar Computershare; and the publicly traded Australian company Salmat.

The two Ozzie companies already handle mail for banking, insurance, utilities, telecommunications, government and share registries and are supposed to reach every home in the country.

Anyway, Salmat, which is said to control 80% of the essential mail in the country, told the Australian Securities Exchange on May 30 that it got an "unsolicited and conditional approach regarding the possible acquisition of its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Division" from a "credible party."

The subscription-only Australian Financial Review waded in a few days later to identify the mystery bidder as the Australian Post.

The Salmat unit, which is supposed to have revenues of at least A$300 million (US$307 million), just happens to own the company's 40% share of DPA.

The unconfirmed move comes after Oz Post tried to stop DPA from using the name Digital Post Australia claiming it was trading on its franchise. Its initial bid for an injunction was denied.

Salmat said it would have something to say about the purchase offer if and when it's appropriate and Zumbox claims it only knows what it's read in the papers.

Technology Spectator wonders if this news shouldn't perk up the ears of the regulators. "Given that this would knock out the only potential competitor in the future of mail, one would think that the ACCC [that's the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] would take an interest in this, although at this point the Post is still owned by the government." Hmm.

The localized DPA widgetry is scheduled to hit market in Q4, around the same time as Oz Post's Digital Mailbox, a similar bill consolidation and document storage service also based on an American import - in its case Pitney Bowes' sight-unseen Volly. Australia Post is the only postal authority to adopt Volly so far.

DPA plans to charge billers and other business users 15 cents less a three-cent discount for early adopters. Oz Post has given no indication what its Digital Mailbox will run.

Australian Post has lined up Telstra's cloud infrastructure for Digital Mailbox. The big telecom is also supposed to be its first announced customer. DPA hasn't said where its infrastructure is coming from - it prefers "security by obscurity" - or if it's gotten any customers yet.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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