Streamlining the information flow

LENGTHY download times are the bane of Internet users throughout Australia. Download delays hamper email transmission and can make a mockery of even the best websites, which may win a host of design awards, but fail without a whimper in the real world when people don’t have 10 minutes to wait while some huge animation downloads.

In the case of email advertising, there are usually two types. First is the text-only dinosaur that isn’t pretty but does contain no-nonsense information without the bandwidth-greedy frills. And the HTML newsletter is much better when you can’t avoid pictures, a marketing presence like your logo or a certain layout.

But as email download sizes head north of 1Mb, you’re more likely to enrage your target audience than anything – and that’s even more damaging to your business than if potential customers forget all about you.

A Perth innovation called Streema looks set to change all that. Local web outfit The Site has developed a technique to produce full multimedia presentations – full of sound, pictures and animation – and deliver them to your email inbox at less than 1Mb.

And they’re much more than the usual pretty layout, logo and product shot. Companies to have used Streema include the Hopman Cup, Australand Holdings, Perth Mint and Bedshed, for whom Streema will soon deliver a fully self-contained e-catalogue with more than 50 products.

“We haven’t come up with a proprietary software product,” The Site director Nick Harvey said.

“Streema is developed using software available in the market. The secret behind it is the techniques we use with the software.”

Mr Harvey credits techno-whiz Matthew Clark with perfecting the art and science of squeezing file size, although he said the development curve had been almost vertical.

“It’s still a fledgling product and a fledgling company. We’ve only been going about eight months, but to have a product that’s commercially viable this early on is very encouraging for us,” Mr Harvey said.

And encouragement is starting to come through the door – in the form of money. Together with business development manager David Roberts, Mr Harvey and Mr Clark seem to know they’re onto something big, but are letting market demand tell them what to do with it. They have no plans yet to give Streema a hard sell to particular markets, although Mr Harvey claims potential exists in “retail, tourism, blue chip, eduction and professional” areas.

Unrealised plans also exist in areas such as wireless handheld devices (where the majority of mobile phones and PDA services will be small file size) and digital TV.

“Once we move into digital TV and get broadband issues worked out, the product will evolve even further and be able to appear on your television screen,” Mr Harvey said.

Streema’s creators – affiliated with the ad agency 20/20 – talked about a variety of business models, from simply producing the Streema presentation to management of client mailing lists (potentially lucrative in itself), but at the moment they seem content for the product to blaze its own trail to success.

“Generally speaking, the product has been very well received,” Mr Harvey said.

“Whenever we’ve seen people and shown them Streema they’ve been blown away. You can see their mind working, wondering what the applications are for their business.”

Considering that among those blown away are Channel 7 in Perth and Brisbane, a Streema presentation might find its way to your email inbox sooner than you think.

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