ABC Australia – a sorry state of affairs where WP8 is concerned.

ABC App

It’s been some time since our last post on the #OurABCToo campaign. 5 months next week to be exact. Five months of soul-destroying indifference, lack of professionalism and simple rudeness by the ABC in regards to our inquiries on this matter.

Despite the collaborative, pro-active and considered initial attempts to engage and obtain feedback from the ABC on the matter of Windows Phone 8 Apps, even basic IE web compatibility for major ABC services, it took escalating levels of drastic action to even begin to see some action on this by the ABC in March 2014.

Following weeks and months of frustration, it appears we are finally on the cusp of some actual real, two-way dialogue with them on these issues.

Read on for more – and what you can do to help.

Initial repeated attempts to engage with the head of online and mobile for the ABC in late 2013 – and then with the Director of Innovation (one-up again) met with silence or no real effort to discuss or reply to the questions put to them and our #OurABCToo campaign.

This led us to submit a formal Freedom Of Information, which in the interests of the #WP8AU community I have copied intact below:

FOI request [ABC-Corp.FID1540]

“Dear ABC Australia FOI contact officer,

Over recent weeks (and months) I have taken every step possible to avoid instigating these official proceedings with ABC Australia. After a lengthy and completely unsatisfactory period of attempted (one-way) engagement with the ABC over social media, phone and email – I am left with no choice but to elevate my inquiries via a formal FOI Act official request on ABC Australia and the department(s) responsible for Mobile App Development and mobile web site support (including iView).

Per the succession of emails below – and in complaint for the complete lack of accountability or responsiveness to my requests (not a single call returned, no formal email replies with the exception of Angela Clark’s + her office notes to arrange a call which has to date, never been made), I have been forced to this action.

In response to my #OurABCToo campaign for Windows Phone support (web services + apps) and my present situation as outlined above, I formally request ABC FOI documents, information or responses to the following questions.

1) ABC Australia Data Logs of Australian mobile device hits to ABC websites:

A. For the 2013 YTD calendar year, a monthly breakdown of overall device information (and OS version) of mobile device hits to ABC websites, broken down by the 3 sites listed in point (B.) – and overall for ABC Australia.

B. For the period 18th to 20th October 2013, a detailed breakdown (not limited to device and OS version) of ALL info gathered by the ABC of mobile device hits to these three web addresses. http://www.abc.net.au/technology/ , http://www.abc.net.au/iview/ & http://www.abc.net.au/ where information does not identify a specific individual (eg IP address) or breach the privacy Act.

2) All current plans, roadmaps, timetables, studies, proposals, reports, assessments or reported issues relating to the development (internal or external) for ABC Australia of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Applications and support on mobile websites at the ABC in their portfolio (as currently exhibited here: http://www.abc.net.au/services/mobile/applications.htm). This should include the relationship to any HTML5 (or other new mobile tech) ABC website redevelopment plans (eg for iView, ABC Radio streaming etc) and the current lack of Windows Phone App and IE mobile browser support or and/or future compatibility.

3) The 2013 and 2014 budget specifically for Mobile Device App development at the ABC, and the % allocated to each mobile platform (eg iOS, Android) including money expended to date and remaining as well as any provisions for Windows Phone Apps.

4) Any documentation confirming ABC Australia’s awareness of, and plans to address or otherwise the lack of current mobile web site support of the Windows Phone platform for major services such as iView and ABC Radio streaming.

5) ABC Australia ability to provide API details and access to independent Microsoft Windows Phone Developers in Australia to provide service and access equality to Australian Windows Phone ABC consumers. Reasons why this is or is not possible to be included.

Finally, with the release just over 12 months ago of the new Windows 8 Operating System by Microsoft, questions 2), 3) & 5) can also be asked with regards to Windows 8 (or 8.1) Store Apps for ABC sites/services.

In lieu of any costs associated with the printing and mailing out of these requested documents/information – I am satisfied with electronic copies to be provided via email in PDF form.

To re-iterate, these measures have been taken in “desperation” at the lack of response and basic consideration and engagement by the ABC in my many prior attempts to approach these questions in a mature, co-operative and professional manner with your organisation.

I look forward to your formal reply on these matters – and also an ETA on the expected full response by ABC Australia.”

FOIdisclosureLogIconDespite the “30 Day” response time in the process, we received no replies except for an email advising our FOI request had been received, in late November, with a deadline for their reply 30 days later. On the 24th of December we received advice of a required 30 day extension – or our request would be closed without reply. At the end of January – we called at the end of the new deadline with no further reply…and there was no update.

In February we tried to further escalate the matter to a formal complaint to the office of Mark Scott. After repeated attempts at this, we ultimately received a call from one of Mark’s direct reports – the ABC Director of Corporate Affairs, Michael Millet. Subsequent to this, March has seen the head of Online and Mobile at the ABC finally open a dialogue with us – and the first real response (interim) on progress on the FOI request.

So….we hope to have more news to report soon. However for now, we can say with complete certainty from this dialogue that there is NO eta on ABC Australia Apps (or IE browser support on #wp8au for their streaming services) – because there are NO plans at the ABC to do so at the present time.

We will save for another post the flawed and predictable device metrics they have relative to #wp8 devices on ABC websites which helps contribute to this platform inertia inside their organisation.

ABCiView_FAQ_Update

However, In further developments (pictured/linked above) – ABC Australia recently updated their excellent web catch-up TV service, iView.

Quick aside – they optimised the code/service for improved performance based on the latest Apple iPhone CPU’s (looking for a sign of ABC bias towards apple…look no further) before releasing a version supporting WP browser support (let alone an App)

And here’s where you can help. The FAQ for the latest version of iView has actually gone so far as to highlight Windows Phone and Windows 8

The ABC is interested in hearing public interest for Windows Phone and Win 8 iView Apps – or is at least putting on a semblance of interest, their actions over the past 5 months hardly match these words, and we can only judge based on past performance in this area. Anyway, how you can help is be filling out their iView contact form asking them for Microsoft Platform support on tablets and mobile devices. As well as this, I can advise the following key contacts on twitter who you can contact to keep this issue on the radar at the ABC.

  • ABC iView contact form
  • ABC Managing Director Mark Scott (Twitter)
  • ABC Department of Innovation (Twitter)
  • ABC Director of Department of Innovation Angela Clark (Twitter)
  • ABC Head of Online and Digital Mark Dando (Twitter)

Go for it folks.

(disillusioned ABC listener/viewer) Sheeds.

 

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About Sheeds

Happily married Father of 3 lovely boys. Gamer - PC, XBOX and PS3 Fan Carlton Blues (AFL), Cricket and F1 fan (Red Bull - Webber) Massive techhead and Noob Blogger Windows Phone 7 Samsung Focus and ZuneHD owner. Owner WPDownUnder
  • Guy

    I am a massive WP8 fan, and all that MS are doing with the whole windows suits right now. I am also a massive fan of the ABC. I gotta say that i admire your passion, but I do understand the difficulty that ABC might have in crossing over to a 3rd platform for the very large and broadrange iview service (and all theIr other services). I think that the market will dictate any moves made by the ABC, and as such, I still think we need to wait another 3 years before enterprise once again looks no further than MS products and suddenly WP8 (or14 or whatever it will be then) will reign like blackberry did… and more!

    • http://www.wpdownunder.com/ Sheeds

      Thanks Guy, Good points….however a) the ABC charter specifically mentions that they are NOT bound by normal commercial ROI arguments business would use. Also b) SBS get a fraction of the ABC funding budget…but check out their SBS on Demand service availability: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/help/#faq_17 They put their audience first (ALL OF THEM) – and say we want our content delivered everywhere we can. :)

  • Harry Buttle

    Good god, why would anybody want to see the ABC, just pick up a copy of the Green Left Weekly every 6 months or so and you’ve covered the gamut of ABC opinions and news in 5 minutes. Re SBS, now that we have this new technology called the internet, where I’m told you can check out all sorts of multicultural stuff, SBS is superseded and should be shut down.

  • Lewk

    I just sent a complaint with the iview contact form. I use the abc.net.au/news website on my phone, I really just wish there was an app for that.

  • http://www.wpdownunder.com/ Sheeds

    This post is not meant to be a rant decrying the ABC as an organisation in general – or their political leanings. I am a massive ABC customer – consuming 90%+ of my radio listening and probably 95%+ of my FTA TV viewing with the ABC. I love their content, and would get nearly all my news from them (online reading aside – where I am with Fairfax). This is just their shabby treatment of process and engagement with regards to my efforts with them. I do think they have a HUGE internal bias towards Apple mobile devices..and until 6 months ago (similar timing to when I ramped up criticism of the use of iPhone or Ipad vs. smartphone, mobile device or tablet on 774 ABC & ABCNews24) it was even worse!

  • Bob Mason

    Here is the reply I received from them …

    Good afternoon Robert,

    Thank you for contacting iview.

    We have nothing to announce at this time regarding an
    iview app for Windows 8 or Windows Phone but please be aware that we are
    committed to making ABC TV content easy to access on multiple platforms and aim
    to provide our audience with choices as to how and when they view programs.
    Supporting a range of platforms and devices requires a careful balancing of
    limited resources.

    Thank you for letting us know this is on interest and
    value to you.

    Kind regards,

    Iview moderator.

  • Lewk

    So I got a response too. I specifically asked about Windows Phone and got a response about Windows 8 :( Well done ABC.

    “We can’t share plans for an ABC iview Windows 8 app at present but please be aware that we are committed to making ABC TV content easy to access on multiple platforms and aim to provide our audience with choices as to how and when they view programs. Supporting a range of platforms and devices requires a careful balancing of limited resources”

  • heheh

    Huawei thinks they are Apple bias too. Well Australia is the most Apple obsessed country in the world.
    http://delimiter.com.au/2013/08/09/no-android-abc-iview-outrageous-says-huawei/

  • goodgghddsfsdf

    jhdgfd

  • BigChaps

    here was my response, received today

    Hi BigChaps,

    Thank you for your email.

    We can’t share plans for ABC iview Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps at present, but we are in talks with Microsoft. We are also in discussions with Microsoft about an iview Xbox One app but have nothing to announce at this time. We will continue to offer ABC iview on the Xbox 360.

    Thanks for letting us know that this is of interest and value to you.

    Kind regards,

    iview Moderator

  • gxdata

    As soon as I get time I will email ABC links provided. Certainly iView has had Apple bias for years, and arty-farties gravitate to iPad and iOS (“it’s so much easier”). ABC staff largely fit that category; viz, Peter Marks.