In re: Wall Street Journal sinking to new lows?

The measure that really matters is the market’s, and on that score Mr. Hinton was at the helm when we again became America’s largest daily.

via Review & Outlook: News and Its Critics – WSJ.com.

To be fair the Wall Street Journal is a good publication excluding aside some of their crazy opinion pieces that pop up from time to time (more frequently in post Muroch version, but still I enjoy the paper and agree their weekend edition has improved under New Corp stewardship).  That said todays opinion piece defending News Corp and the WSJ is quite possibly the craziest opinion piece yet and really quiet astonishing.  Aside from the above quote, which sounds more like a defense of reporting like Fox News or a tabloid (ratings first, integrity? eh..)  Several other papers and blogs have responded to the WSJ’s opinion piece that among other things says “Phone hacking is illegal, and it is up to British authorities to enforce their laws. If Scotland Yard failed to do so adequately when the hacking was first uncovered several years ago, then that is more troubling than the hacking itself.” which is just weird to think, let alone publish it in their paper.

For more see a post by Richard Adams over at the Guardian’s Blog and a good piece in the Economist that points out some of the good parts of Murdoch’s news gathering including his investments and continued spending on quality publications like the Times of London and the WSJ.

In re: Netflix price rise should be no surprise

If your a Netflix subscriber (and I am currently not, but I do join on and off when I get in the mood to watch some movies) you have no doubt heard about the change in pricing coming up this fall making streaming and disc mailing two seperate prices and that being a pretty steep increase if you choose to stick with both (had you been only interested in one or the other not so bad for you).  While quick increases might not be good, they also make some sense as getting known for pricing creep a couple bucks now and a couple bucks later adds a lot of uncertainty and Netflix has had fairly long periods of time on the pricing planes although they have changed several times in the past.  The backlash at least in cyberspace has been enormous and somewhat surprising, but I have found it interesting that some of the backlash is pretty unrealistic, demanding in their “Dear Netflix” tweets that the price shouldn’t go up and oh get more streaming content.  The reality of the situation is Netflix was able to grow streaming on the cheap as content providers had yet to learn the income that could be earned from it and two because they needed to grow to a certain size to get their streaming tech put into every blu-ray, connected tv, video game system, etc and one way to do that was keep it cheap/give it to everyone with Netflix.  So fast forward a few years, add in some new content deals that have cost a lot more to Netflix and add that customers don’t seem happy w/ only obscure content and demand more high value content and price increases were inevitable.

But don’t worry Netflix folks there is competition out there to keep a check on Netflix despite every mail order disk besides the red envelope failing,  folks like myself who would be prime users can get away from it.  I am pretty stocked up on movies on our DVR right now w/ Directv (during the first three month promo we had every channel it seemed and that meant a lot of movies) couple that with the HBO Go service that streams every episode of HBO shows ever (yeah, ever, pretty neat) and you can see that Netflix doesn’t have any time at my place.  Add in some things like Hulu, YouTube getting into premium content, along with RedBox, on demand content via cable/sattelite and any number of online video services, Amazon (their prime subscription gives quasi Netflix content) and iTunes.  So basically yeah price increases suck, but this has to happen if online content is going to become their primary business, which there is no doubt is where they are going as mailing DVDs is not the future.

 

In re: Daily deals and the law

Interesting post over at TechCrunch discussing a number of legal issues touching on daily deals (and how they may be violating laws, especially consumer protection).  Like any area that is new and evolving its unclear what daily deals (Groupon, Living Social, Faveroo here in Columbus among others) are and you might be able to fit them under gift card laws, which the post at TechCrunch points out might put them at some odds with various state laws (Groupon does use some vague term language to hedge these issues, but they are setting up local merchants with some sticky issues).

I’ve been looking into issues like gift cards, bankruptcy, sales tax, and alcohol regulations. These might all sound esoteric and not really worthy of discussion, but the outcomes can significantly affect the value proposition to the consumer, merchant and the deal provider

….

What’s the correct sales tax on a $51 purchase with a $50 Groupon that someone bought for $25 in a state with a 5% tax rate? The possible answers are 5 cents, 68 cents, $1.30 and $2.55. That’s based on a taxable value of $1 (amount paid at point of sale), $13.50 (amount merchant actually gets), $26 (total amount consumer paid) and $51 (total face value of the transaction). I find that most businesses pick either extreme.

See TechCrunch

So while some of these might sound a bit bland to some, they could actually pose a whole host of issues to the rapidly expanding industry.  As someone who has missed the expiration on some of the deals I bought here, I wouldn’t mind having the longer date gift card laws often require, but of course these might cause companies to not want to get into the deals to start with.

In re: the future of tv advertising?

Saw a post that talked about a new idea for getting ads into tv reruns, editing in ads into the show that weren’t there before.  Kinda sounds strange if you think about it, seeing a Seinfeld episode from the early 90s with an ad for a current movie on a bus going by — but if you think about it more it does provide a possible future advertising improvement, similar to target online advertising, by leaving in green spaces or blank tv screens that would allow more localized placement or even Google style completely target ads based on whats in your DVR.  Sports have gotten into this a bit, although target for live events, it allows TV networks to put in ads that the people at the game don’t see.  To me if it means getting commercial free soccer, or keeping the price down on going to a baseball game (and not seeing an ad behind homeplate at the stadium no less) I am all for it.

They’re Putting New Ads In Old TV Reruns

via They’re Putting New Ads In Old TV Reruns.

In re: Starbucks homebrew…

“As the amount of Americans who home-brew increases, Starbucks will continue to lose out on potential grocery store sales.” — Forbes article on why Starbucks should get out of its deal with Kraft (which is already happening, Kraft has sued over it) and get into K-cups the Keurig/Green Moutain coffee machine.

I am just a bit curious how Forbes thinks that home brewed coffee is on the rise, it may be so, but I have to assume the author means those who use single serving machines like the Keurig.  Anyway, just thought it was a strange comment.  I agree that being locked into Kraft’s system makes no sense (no one has one) and the premium available on single serving coffee I imagine is nice.

In other Starbucks news I noticed that they are dropping the name Starbucks from their logo, guess they are trying to be like Nike or other ‘symbol brands’ not a bad move, may take some time to adjust but whenever I see those type of logos I think of the ad-busters calendar I had that talks about how many brand logos we can recognize and how few plants we can.

In re: Walmart entering Africa?

“Wal-Mart is eyeing Africa, and has decided to start its push into the continent by offering $4.1 billion for South Africa’s third biggest retailer, Massmart, reports Reuters. … Wal-Mart’s bid comes as South Africa has sought to elevate its profile as a nation primed for investment… Analysts told Reuters that Wal-Mart’s offer is “a big vote of confidence for the South African retail economy and for South Africa” but that a Wal-Mart takeover will have a notable impact on pricing and competition between South African retailers.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68Q0RA20100927

While I have mixed feelings on Walmart and their impact on communities, employees and some other things I see this as probably a good thing for South Africa which during my visit this year seemed like a country ready to step up (I was really impressed despite their problems, the way they ran the world cup.).

In re: Secret world of Trader Joes

Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried theyll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. “People dont want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isnt quite so large. Trader Joes organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it wont increase the chances theyll buy.

via Inside the secret world of Trader Joes – Aug. 23, 2010.

I really like Trader Joes, always amazed how cheap it is and they usually have something I wasn’t expecting, but gotta admit I knew very little about them.  Well guess what, seems like nobody knows much about them, but Fortune Magazine tried to dig up a scoop and didn’t get much, but still found it real interesting.  Did you know it was owned by some Germans?  (the Aldi Nord owners if your curious)