Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars

In an article from The Economist, the Oscar's most coveted award, The Year's Best Film, is discussed. The article notes out that in recent years the number of films nominated for the award has risen to ten in total. The article's author goes on to talk about it being a two-horse race for the award between "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network". But there is one statement that stands out to me and should be discussed. (I have bolded the important part)

"I’M NOT a gambling man, but I’d put money on this year’s Best Picture Oscar going to a film with a three-word title, the first word being “The”. I’d also bet on “127 Hours”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “The Fighter”, and “Winter’s Bone” not winning. As nice as it is to see them acknowledged, the policy introduced by the Academy last year of having ten films in the Best Picture category means, inevitably, that several of them are there to make up the numbers. And at the moment what we have is a very exciting, very close two-horse race."

A majority of "the several that are there to make up the numbers" are among the highest grossing films of 2010. The Academy has definitely given many of these movies an added boost to their popularity. These movies came out last year but people seem to be advertising them more than when they were released. For example, go home, click your "on demand" button on your remote control, then listen and see what comes to the screen. You will hear "The Social Network", "The King's Speech", "Toy Story 3", and the list goes on. These movies have been out for months yet this company advertises them. They do this because The Oscars presentation brings added attention to the films and makes people want to see them. The Oscar's on ABC is a historic event and every year movies step into a realm not only of prestige and honor but they get to make money for a long, long time. Have you ever seen the movie "Gladiator" with actor Russell Crowe. If you pay attention the cover of the movie's casing says "NOMINATED FOR ______ (fill in the blank) AWARDS" and "WINNER OF _____ (fill in the blank) AWARDS". And then there are quotes like "TERRIFIC" and "BRILLIANT" by The New York Times and other credible sources. These simple words are a marketing tool and so is The Academy Awards. Now I'm not at all saying that the films are not deserving of the Oscar awards they receive. Think of it like an added revenue bonus. If your film is good enough and makes the "Movie of the Year" ballot, then that movie is going to make a lot more money than the movie who didn't make the ballot.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google Makes Some Changes

An article from cnn.com takes a look at some changes Google has made in the way they select the websites that show up first on their search results. They changed their algorithm in order to get better quality results. This could potentially have a huge impact on a lot of websites, and the people who own and operate those websites. Google is the number one search engine in the world, and even if a website was receiving the same amount of listings on other search engines, if they lose spots with Google, it's definitely going to hurt the website. It could also potentially put people out of business. This would be in a very extreme case, but if a web site's traffic drops too dramatically, then the website could go under, and so would all of the people involved with the website. One website owner has said that since Google's change to their algorithm the traffic has dropped 40% on their website. If Google doesn't like your website, than the demand for your website will definitely drop. It's not all bad though. Some websites may flourish under the new algorithm. A website might not be very well known, but have a lot of quality information. a website like that could definitely benefit from the algorithm, and it might allow that website to grow and become very successful. There are tricks that website operators can do that will cause their website to show up higher on a Google search, but Google has cracked down on a lot of those tricks. It seems like now, that the best thing website owners can do is just produce a more quality product. I think the new algorithm makes a lot of sense, and if a website isn't getting as good of listings, than the people who run the website need to produce a better product.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

College Tuition

In an article written in the New York Times, the ever rising cost of college is discussed. Over the past couple of weeks, universities such as Brown and Princeton have announced that they will raise their tuitions once again. In todays society, attending college is a necessity if you expect to make a decent living. If tuition prices go up, it will make it even harder for people to attend college. The national average salary is around $40,000. It is literally impossible for someone to attend college if their parents make that kind of money and not be accumulating debt. No matter how smart you are, it simply will not work. But, many scholarships, aids, and loans are out there to help students pay for college. This is creating a nation of students who owe significant amounts of money by the time they graduate. This creates a major problem because newly graduated adults are looking for jobs and owe $100,000 to the school they attended. It simply doesn't work. I don't know what to do but something must be done.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Apple Asking for too Much?

An article from mashable.com takes a look at how Apple is making some it's app developers very angry. Recently Apple announced that developers will now be able to place a monthly subscription fee on the Apps that they produce. The developers were happy to hear that, but they were furious when they heard that they had to give Apple 30% of the revenue made from the subscription fees. Apple typically only charges a 2.5% credit card fee. This could have a serious impact on the amount of apps developed for the iPhone. Developers who planned to make apps that required a monthly fee to stay alive, now might not be able to afford to build the app since 30% of their profits will go to Apple. This could be especially hard on developers of music apps. Those developers already have to pay content fees to artists and record labels. They need to charge a monthly fee to draw a profit and update their software, but losing 30% of their revenue to Apple might be too much for some app developers to overcome. I also think that apps that require a monthly fee won't sell well to begin with. Most people buy apps because they are usually cheap and very simple to use. The thought of a subscription fee on some apps is definitely going to turn some consumers away. I know I could never get an app that required a subscription fee. Most teenagers probably wouldn't be able to either, since our parents would be the ones paying for it, and an app that requires a subscription fee seems a little extreme. If an existing apps decides to start charging a subscription fee there is no doubt that it's demand will go down. I don't think charging a subscription fees for apps is a good idea, since I don't think most people are willing to pay one for an iPhone app, but if developers are going to charge one, Apple does not deserve 30% of their revenue. That's just asking too much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wholesale Prices

Steady improvement in the economy may soon cause other problems- faster inflation. Shoes, clothes, tires, plastics and other products all cost more at the wholesale level last month. This puts pressure on businesses to pass the increases along to their customers. We are getting used to gas prices being high, but now it is hard not to notice prices going up on other things. “Abercrombie & Fitch which sells clothes primarily marketed to teenagers, said it expects to raise prices later this year because of soaring costs for raw materials, particularly cotton.” The cost of cotton, for example, has doubled in the past year. The price of corn has doubled in just six months. The maker of Hanes underwear and T-shirts raised prices in this month and may do it again this summer. Food companies like Kraft Foods and McDonald's have said in recent weeks that they will raise prices this year, too. Through most of last year, the government worried more that the weak economy might cause deflation - a prolonged drop in prices and wages, which can make people unwilling to spend. In response, the government acted to strengthen the economy and raise inflation slightly. A healthy economy usually has some inflation, but it is low. "It's too early to panic about inflation," argues Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "There won't be an inflationary spiral unless wage inflation picks up."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Viruses on Smart Phones

In an article written by fox news, the spreading of viruses through Smart Phones is on the rise. For the first time ever, more Smart Phones were sold during the last quarter in the U.S. than computers. This also may be because a smart phone is half the cost of a computer. Also the fact that Smart Phones are much more accessible than computers. A majority of people only use their computers for simple things such as e-mail and Facebook. Why bother spending the money on a computer when you can do it in the palm of your hand. Last week, Mcafee released that mobile viruses are up 46% from last year. People may begin to turn away from Smart Phones and may stick with the traditional easy to use phone. We all saw it with PC, many turned to Mac because viruses were limited on the Mac computers. But with cell phones, they are getting viruses through downloaded apps and emails. Mcafee stated that major apps such as Facebook, failed to secure peoples personal information. In a generation that is so dominated by mobile Smart Phones, you can only expect to see a dramatic rise in viruses for cell phones. Which in turn could lower the amount of cell phones sold in the future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hybrids, would you want one?

USA Today says that Hybrid sales are not great but their popularity is said to increase in the next year.

Hwang says that with the many factors coming together, "Everybody says hybrid sales are poised to take off this year."

So my big debate on hybrid cars is why are they so unattractive? I think they are certainly very effective with the high MPGs they offer but the awkward body style is enough to turn me away. Why can't we have an average looking car with hybrid features? We have to have creepy bug looking cars to be fuel efficient. I don't think the number of consumers will change for car companies offering hybrid cars in their lineups. This is because their will not be a change in consumer tastes. The conventional styles that companies offer will be the major product for car companies for years to come, I believe this is because the consumer tastes will remain the same until hybrid cars are more conventional with their styles.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not Everyone is pleased with the Verizon iPhone

An article from cnn.com brings to light that not everyone is happy with the Verizon iPhone. The crowds that were gathering outside of Apple and Verizon stores across America were unusually small. This all seems very odd considering how much people complained for Apple to release their iPhone on on the Verizon network to get away from the awful cell phone coverage of AT&T. There is one large flaw in the iPhone for Verizon as oppose to the phone for AT&T. The Verizon iPhone doesn't allow you to talk on the phone and run apps or the Internet at the same time. This seems like a fairly significant flaw to me, and might keep me and other consumers from switching to the Verizon iPhone instead of keeping my current AT&T contract. That definitely has to hurt the demand for the Verizon iPhone since so many iPhone owners want to be able to access the web and talk on the phone at the same time. I think the Verizon iPhone will still sell quite well, despite that flaw. There are a lot of people on the Verizon network who have been anxiously awaiting their chance to to get their hands on an iPhone since it's release. Another thing that might hurt the sales of the iPhone 4 on Verizon is that every summer Apple seems to always roll out a new phone. There's going to be a descent amount of consumers who are going to wait until summer to pick up a new version of the iPhone. Also AT&T is wasting no time making sure that everyone is aware that you can use the AT&T phone and surf online at the same time. They have launched several new ads that make sure everyone is aware of the features on their iPhone. I believe that the Iphone 4 Will still sell very well for Verizon. The article also states that there are plenty of people who love Verizon's Iphone 4. I think it's great that AT&T doesn't have so much control over the iPhone market anymore and other consumers are getting their chance to experience iPhones. The demand for these phones is still high, but I do think the flaw in the phone will hurt it's demand, but not enough for Apple and Verizon to not make a profit on the device.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft Teaming Up

This article from CNN.com discusses the upcoming merger of the world's largest cell phone producer, Nokia, and its largest PC software producer, Microsoft. While Americans have lost interest in Nokia phones, the devices have managed to remain the top sellers worldwide. For this partnership, Nokia will drop its current, outdated smart phone platform and adopt Microsoft's "Windows Phone." All Nokia phones will also feature Bing as their default search engine. It seems no attempt was made by Nokia to create some sort of partnership with the obvious competitor that now comes to mind: Google. Some say the Android platform would have been a better choice. That being said, both Nokia and Microsoft, who have seen decreasing sales, now have a very strong alliance that puts them in the money with Apple and Google's Android, if nothing else because of the sheer scale of this partnership. The experts see both companies benefiting from the merger, since Nokia now has a competitive smart phone platform and Microsoft now has the largest cell phone producer handling its production as well as its relationships with carriers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Verizon and the iPhone

In an article from CNN, Verizon selling the iPhone is discussed. It seems that although Verizon carrying the iPhone has been long waited, not very many people are buying the phone. In the past, when Apple releases new products, thousands line up and even sleep outside just to ensure that they are able to purchase the product. As of today, it was nearly impossible to find a store with a wait to buy the iPhone. In my opinion, this could be because of many factors. One, Verizon is known for smart phones having problems on their network. Nobody wants to go out and spend hundred of dollars on a phone that cant be supported by the network. Also, in the this economy, people don't just have hundreds of dollars sitting around to buy a new phone. Verizon's poor sales of the iPhone will create a surplus of unsold phones. I expect the price to drop in the near future.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

High-Speed Rail System

The Obama administration wants to invest $53 billion in high-speed and intercity rail service in the next six years.The current administration believes this plan to spend billions on a vast high-speed-rail network is important to keep the United States competitive with world markets that already use the technology. I wonder how this rail system would impact the automotive industry. I am sure that it would hurt car sales as many people might be able to eliminate owning a car. It may also affect concrete and steel businesses and other manufacturers of materials used to build roads. I wonder about the affect it would have on the businesses alongside the roads that are used to being busy because of the daily traffic driving by. I think that our national debt is also too high to even consider spending that much money on something that may potentially bankrupt the auto makers. The estimated cost for this system would be $600 billion over the next 20 years. Where would money come from to improve and maintain our existing roads? Or would they become a low priority in comparison to spending money on the high- speed rail system? Maybe it would be a better idea to let private industry invest in this project. Amtrack has been successful in the public transportation industry. Maybe they should be doing this project instead of the government.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Harvard & Babies

According to an article on wsj.com babies who are fed solid food prematurely may have a higher chance of obesity. What does this mean for companies such as Gerber who sell solid food products for babies?

"Infants on formula who are fed solid foods before they are 4 months old have a higher risk of becoming obese by age 3 than those starting later, Harvard researchers said. The findings are considered significant because being overweight or obese as a child increases the likelihood of being so as an adult."

This data from Harvard researchers, who I'd bet on 9 times out of 10, could create a serious problem for companies who sell solid food for babies. If a bunch of mothers now turn away from solid food products then companies like Gerber will see a decrease in consumers. They will most likely discontinue the products if the decrease is significant enough. The decrease in consumers can be attributed to a change in consumer tastes which can be attributed to the data Harvard researchers published. The possibility of your child being obese in childhood affecting the chances your child will be obese in adulthood is what might turn consumers away from feeding their younger babies solid food. Obesity can cause serious health problems and in America today we are making a lot of effort to be more healthy so why wouldn't mothers give their children a head start?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Super Bowl Heads into the Future

Computer technology is playing a huge role in this year's Super Bowl. In an article from cnn.com, they take a look at just how high tech this year's Super Bowl is going to be. Even the Super Bowl has to get in on the Smart Phone craze. The NFL has released a free Super Bowl app not only for the iPhone, but also for phones running Google's Android system. It seems like every major sporting event recently has released their own smart phone app. The demand for apps is very high, and it seems like whenever a there is a major sporting even, it seems like someone is always looking to make some money by creating an app for the event. Some of these apps also help out local business owners. One app will help show you all the great local bars and restaurants in North Texas. Someone even created an app that will help you find parking at the Super Bowl. The ads for Super Bowl even have their own app. There are many other cool pieces of tech being used at the Super Bowl outside of smart phone apps. The entire stadium is on a Wi-Fi network, and one spokeswoman for AT&T said that they have spent more than $10 million enhancing the signal at the Cowboy's Stadium. The most famous piece of technology at the game is definitely the $40 million, 600- ton video board hanging above the field. There's no telling how much it costs to turn on this high tech stadium. That's why it's so great that all these people are willing to pay to use the cool Super Bowl apps, or pay to advertise on the apps. It's also nice that the cell phone companies are willing to pay so much to make sure that they have a strong signal inside the stadium. The advances in technology not only add to the atmosphere of the Super Bowl itself, but the advances in technology seem to also be very good for the economy. These apps are definitely in high demand, and there's no doubt that businesses like the NFL or ESPN are making money off of them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Future Super Bowls?

“With north Texas hosting its first Super Bowl ever this year, the weather is causing concern among many local officials. The Dallas Morning News is already speculating whether the ice will affect any chances at Arlington getting any Super Bowls in the immediate future.” I don’t think the bad weather should affect future decisions on whether Super Bowl will be played in Arlington again. Bad weather can happen almost anywhere, and Texas was prepared for it. There was a plan B the whole time. We all know how volatile Texas weather can be. In the past, Super Bowl games have been played in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Pontiac where temperatures and weather have been as bad as the weather we have had for the past three days. What really matters most it the number of fans attending the games. The record attendance so far is in Pasadena, California with 103,985 people. The Super Bowl at Cowboy Stadium may surpass this record attendance. The Super Bowl has been in Tampa, Florida the most times, but attendance was only around 73,000 people. Doesn’t the NFL care more about profits? Won’t they make more money with higher attendance? And if so, who cares what the weather is like as long as players and fans are in an indoor stadium.