Bummer: Blockbuster Going Bust Saturday, Sep 25 2010 

Bummer: Blockbuster Going Bust

Friday 24 September 2010 – 2:45PM by SavvySugar (Flickr User: Scott Clark)

Sure, ordering from Netflix is a lot more convenient than trudging to your local Blockbuster, but there’s something nostalgic about entering that blue and gold building. The company just filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, but what does that mean for Blockbuster fans? This may lead to more store closings — CEO James Keyes said “every single store” will be evaluated.

On the bright side, Blockbuster will still be offering movies 28 days earlier than its competitors — Warner Bros. entered a deal with the firm about half a year ago to give it special distribution rights. I was sad about my local Borders closing, and now I’m pretty glum about the Blockbuster bankruptcy. Seems like these companies need to start figuring out how to get a leg up on their online competition.


Brilliant or Baffling: “Standing” Airplane Seats Saturday, Sep 25 2010 

Brilliant or Baffling: “Standing” Airplane Seats

Thursday, 23 September 2010 – 6:00AM by SavvySugar

To make flights more uncomfortable than they already are, a company just invented the “SkyRider” airplane seat, in which passengers would be seated in a half standing, half seating position. The chair would take up 23 inches of legroom, a lot less than the minimum 31 inches required in coach. The idea behind this is for budget airlines to squish more people into planes, leading to lower ticket prices.

What do you think — brilliant or baffling?

Blackberry firm profits beat expectations Sunday, Sep 19 2010 

17 September 2010 Last updated at 06:21 GMT

Blackberry firm profits beat expectations

BlackBerry handset
Blackberry has more than 50 million subscribers

Shares in Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) rose more than 4% in after-hours trade after the firm posted stronger-than-expected profits.

Net profit for the three months to August rose to $796.7m (£507m) from $475.6m a year earlier.

The company has recently been involved in a row over data security in India and the Middle East.

This was partly to blame for the firm adding fewer subscribers than expected in the quarter, RIM said.

But RIM’s co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said he believed the disputes would be successfully resolved.

“I’m optimistic that a positive and constructive outcome can be achieved.”

Revenues rose 31% to $4.62bn. Analysts had forecast revenues of $4.47bn.

Starbucks tells village shop to remove ‘lookalike’ sign Sunday, Sep 19 2010 

16 September 2010 Last updated at 12:36 GMT

Starbucks tells village shop to remove ‘lookalike’ sign

logos of Starbucks and the Boulders Coffee Lounge, Borth
Spot the difference: the logos of Starbucks and the Boulders Coffee Lounge in Borth

Coffee chain giant Starbucks has told a small village cafe to take down its sign after complaining that it was similar to its own logo.

The multi-national said it was contacted by a visitor to Boulders Coffee Lounge, in Borth, Ceredigion, who wrongly thought it was a Starbucks.

The small business has taken down its circular green sign after receiving a solicitor’s letter.

Derek Edwards, the owner of Boulders, said it was an “innocent mistake”.

Boulders Coffee Lounge is on the seafront at Borth, a village a few minutes’ drive from Aberystwyth, and the sign had been on the side of the upstairs cafe.

But Starbucks claimed the sign infringed its trademark logo.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said: “Over the last 40 years our logo and name have come to mean great coffee and service to millions of Starbucks customers, so it’s important that we take care that its misuse does not cause confusion.

“We were recently contacted by a customer telling us that they had gone into Boulders Coffee Lounge in Borth because they believed it was a Starbucks store and were disappointed to find that it was not.

“We have asked the coffee shop to change its logo to make it clear that it is not a Starbucks to avoid this situation happening again.”

Boulders owner Mr Edwards said he thought he posed “no threat” to Starbucks.

“It was an innocent mistake, and I was happy to comply with Starbucks’ wishes,” he added.

“We do an excellent cup of coffee at very reasonable prices, with good service, and I hope those who visited us were not too disappointed to find they were not in a Starbucks.

“I’m just trying to promote my business to the best of my abilities.

“The sign is very similar, but I thought it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Reading E-Books in All the Colors of the Rainbow Sunday, Sep 12 2010 


Reading E-Books in All the Colors of the Rainbow

By ANNE EISENBERG                                        Published: September 11, 2010

BLACK-AND-WHITE movies have their film noir appeal, yet it’s glowing color that rules on most consumer displays these days, with one exception: the pages of e-book readers. There, color is still supplied the old-fashioned way — not by filtered pixels, but by readers’ imaginations.

Color e-reader displays from E Ink.

The display from Qualcomm uses reflective instead of LCD technology.

Now that stronghold of austere black letters is crumbling. “We expect companies to market color e-book readers if not by the holidays, then soon after,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst specializing in consumer product strategies at Forrester, the market research company. “And some consumers will definitely opt for them.”

Of course, even with their current, monochromatic text, e-book readers have already been strong sellers, said Vinita Jakhanwal, director of small and medium displays at the market researcher iSuppli. Worldwide shipments have risen quickly — to 11 million in 2010, from 5 million in 2009, she said, with 15 million predicted for 2011.

But the popularity of the Apple iPad, on which people can read books, surf the Internet, watch videos and enjoy thousands of apps — all in full color — has shaken up the market. “It’s forced e-book reader manufacturers to innovate,” said Paul Semenza, a senior vice president for DisplaySearch, an industry researcher in Santa Clara, Calif.

Major e-reader companies like Amazon.com, which sells the Kindle, and Barnes & Noble, seller of the Nook, have not announced that they are offering color versions, or that they are committed to a specific technology for doing so. But some smaller entrants in the market have said they will be using liquid crystal displays, just as the iPad does.

The Literati by the Sharper Image, for example, has a a full-color LCD and will go on sale in October, priced at about $159. And Pandigital has said that the Novel, its full-color e-reader with an LCD touch screen, will be at retailers this month at a suggested price of about $200.

But LCD displays have disadvantages, Mr. Semenza said. They consume a lot of power, he said, because they need backlighting and because much optical energy is lost as light passes through the polarizers, filters and crystals needed to create color. They are also hard to read outdoors, he added.

Other types of displays may also find a foothold with consumers — particularly low-power, reflective technologies that take advantage of ambient light and are easy to read when outside. The EInk Corporation in Cambridge, Mass., uses this reflective technology for its present product — the black-and-white displays in the Kindle, Nook and other e-readers — and will soon introduce a color version of the technology, said Siram Peruvemba, E Ink’s vice president for global sales and marketing. The technology will probably first be used for textbook illustrations and for cartoons.

The E Ink color displays, which have had many prototypes in the last two years, have not yet found favor with Kindle. “We’ve seen E Ink color displays in the lab and they aren’t ready,” Stephanie Mantello, a senior public relations manager for Kindle at Amazon.com, wrote in an e-mail.

Ken Werner of Nutmeg Consultants in Norwalk, Conn., and a specialist in the display industry, says that he has viewed the E Ink prototypes and that their reflective color technology is worthwhile.

“If you are expecting these reflective color panels to look like an LCD TV or an iPad, you’ll be disappointed,” he said. “They are not going to have that depth and range of color.” But, he said, the displays are valuable because of their low power consumption, thinness and light weight.

E Ink will ship its color displays to device makers in late fall, Mr. Peruvemba said. Hanvon Technology, in Beijing, a maker of e-book readers, will be one of the first customers, he said.

The color filters used in the displays block some of the light, but the loss is offset by an improved ink formulation that yields higher contrast, he said; the color display consumes no more power than previous monochromatic displays.

Reflective color displays from Qualcomm will also be on the market soon, said Jim Cathey, vice president for business development at the Taiwan office of Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, based in San Diego. The company’s color technology, called mirasol, will be shipped to device makers this quarter, and should be available to consumers in the first quarter of next year, he said.

Mirasol dispenses with color filters, as its name suggests — it combines the Spanish words “mira,” for look, and “sol,” for sun, into a play on the English word “mirrors.” The pixels in the display use tiny, mirrorlike elements in optical cavities to selectively reflect ambient red, green or blue light — much as sunlight bounces off a bird’s feathers. The pixels switch fast enough to run video, he said.

MS. EPPS of Forrester also thinks sales of e-book readers, whether in color or black-and-white, will withstand competition from the iPad and others. “We see the market bifurcating into two separate arenas with two different price ranges,” she said — with one group opting for multifunctional slates like the iPad, and the other for e-book readers.

Color is not likely to be the most important lure for those bookish buyers. “When you ask e-book consumers what are the features they care about, it’s not color,” she said. “Market expectations are driving that innovation. Readers care more about features like durability.”

My Comment:

There is such a hassle on trying to be innovative, is it really worth it? The only type of innovation that the consumers want is longer lasting battery, so they can use it outdoors or on intercontinental flights. Is a book in colour really necessary, when you read an actual book, is it in colour? No. The whole concept of a book, is  for it to be black and white, so you can imagine the scene in your head, through the written word. Are people going to buy books similar to children’s books for images or colour? Or can we get that in the Kindle or Literati? Is this new technology really necessary? Occasionally, but how many people really can’t carry a book? Hopefully we wont see everyone walking around with things similar to Kindles, in 5 years.

Maybe Parents Do Understand? Sunday, Sep 12 2010 


September 9, 2010, 12:46 pm

Maybe Parents Do Understand? Will Smith’s Daughter Gets a Record Deal


Willow Smith
Roc Nation
Willow Smith, age 9.

It’s always nice to see the music industry make room for a talented newcomer. On Wednesday, the Roc Nation entertainment company announced that it had signed a recording deal with the 9-year-old pop singer Willow Smith, whose debut single, “Whip My Hair,” has become a viral sensation after hitting the Web earlier this week. In a news release, Roc Nation said that Willow Smith, who is the sister of the “Karate Kid” actor Jaden Smith and – oh, yes – the daughter of the superstars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, will shoot her debut video in Los Angeles later this month. Jay-Z, the Roc Nation founder and president, said in a statement, “It’s rare to find an artist with such innate talent and creativity at such a young age. Willow is about to embark on an incredible journey and we look forward to joining her as she grows in all aspects of her career.”

In a interview Wednesday morning with Ryan Seacrest, Willow Smith assured the host that she is truly 9 years old (“You could look at my birth certificate, or you could ask my mom,” she said) and admitted that math was her most challenging subject in school.

My Comment:

I don’t know if this article is appropriate, and I’ll probably post another…

Yes, Willow Smith is a good singer, and Yes her parents are famous, and very good at their jobs. But is it right for a Record Company to sign a person which is only 9 years old? There are so many risks in that, and I don’t think they fully evaluated how much it would cost to sign her, and how much it would cost to lose her, in the future. Maybe companies full immersed in the media don’t care about the outcome of tomorrow, if today is good. But do they really believe a 9-year-old can stay with one company her whole artistic career?

Zara launches online retail store Sunday, Sep 5 2010 

2 September 2010 Last updated at 09:35 GMT

Zara launches online retail store

Woman leaving Zara shop in Madrid

By Julia Caesar Business reporter, BBC News

Store sales have fallen so Zara hopes online sales will help

Spanish clothing retailer Zara has opened its new online store in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the UK.

The group already sells a home range online, but its revamped website will offer fashion lines which have only been available in its stores until now.

The push into cyberspace is seen as a defensive move that comes amid fears of a decline in High Street spending.

H&M will follow in the next fortnight; Gap began online sales for the first time outside the US last month.

Consumer confidence is waning and many fear a further economic slowdown. Online fashion sales, meanwhile, are proving resilient.

At rival Next, for instance, first-half sales in stores fell 1.5%, while its home shopping business saw sales rise 7.8%.

Further strength in internet trading has been reported by Asos, the online market leader, which said sales rose 54% during the January-to-March quarter when compared with the same period a year earlier.

Online growth

Online retail sales have boomed as more people get high-speed internet connections and time-pressed shoppers take advantage of shopping from home or work, according to industry observers.

Shopping on the net is expected to see sales grow to £94bn ($144 bn) in Western Europe by 2014, from £56bn in 2009, according to consultants Forrester.

But online sales still only make up a small proportion of total sales. In the UK, only 8% of total sales in July were made online, according to the Office for National Statistics.

“Shops that don’t have an online presence have noticed rival stores enjoying a dramatic increase in online sales, while their sales in shops have been pretty flat,” according to Jeremy Baker, professor of marketing at the ESCP business school.

Complement to existing stores

Zara’s online shop will soon be followed by H&M’s online shop, which will go live on 16 September.

Gap and Banana Republic are already there, having opened their online operations outside the US for the first time, on 26 August.

Online stores add to rather than cannibalize physical stores, hence they tend to bring in additional sales, according to industry observers.

“There is clearly demand for Zara product online,” said Simon Chinn, retail consultant at Verdict Research.

“It will comfortably complement its extensive store estate, adding an extra level of service for its customers.”

Rapid growth

Online retail sales are set to double in next three years

Zara is “liked” by more than 4.5 million people who have signed up as fans on Facebook. The key now is to convert those fans into customers.

Inditex, Zara’s parent company, has overtaken Gap as the world’s biggest clothing retailer by sales. Inditex chief executive, Pablo Isla, said: “Customers should expect the launching of online selling for the group’s other brands in coming years.”

The success of retailers such as the dedicated online fashion site Asos hints at how rapid the migration of sales from traditional stores to the internet is, especially among the 18-34 age group.

Zara made a small profit in the year to the end of January 2010, after recording a sharp loss during the previous year. It is hoping to see a 10% rise in revenue linked to its online store.

My Comment:
I know this article is from before the weekend, but it was the article i was most interested in. It explains how businesses now have to face customers in a digital way, and that human contact has become smaller and smaller. The thing that I would most like to find out is how each company’s marketing team works to show that they now do sell things online. Everyone buys online, so how do they interest people to shop at their online store? There are so many brands and companies which have online stores, and have frequent online buyers, will all these mainstream brands (which are now creating online stores) be able to have such a high rate of buyers? Most online stores, are shops which have not been made global, so even if you have 3 Zara shops in your town or city, will you still spend your time at home browsing their collections?