If the main gear in Amazon's future is customer loyalty, the axle it revolves around is Amazon Prime, the $79-a-year membership option that began by offering free two-day shipping for a family but has been expanding into other areas such as free (if selective) video streaming and, recently, free (if-selective) e-book lending on the Kindle (including the hot, new Fire).
In announcing the $30-million cash acquisition of San Bernardino, Calif.-based Evolution Fresh yesterday, Starbucks chairman/CEO/sage Howard Schultz says his company is going to do for juice what it did for coffee.
Talk about sending a mixed message. The news from a couple of bellwether fronts this morning is along the lines of "we're doing pretty well, thank you, but it can only get worse." The most prominent among them is General Motors, which optimists have been pointing to as a sign of resilience in the domestic economy.
Unless you have a young man -- purportedly 17 or older but maybe not -- in your household, the news that Activision Blizzard released a new version of its "Call of Duty" videogame yesterday might have gone in one ear and out the other. If you do have a young man in the house, your windows are probably rattling even as you read. But the larger story is that despite how popular videogames have become, sales have been just as listless as they are in the rest of the consumer market.
A federal judge ruled yesterday that the graphic representations of the impact of smoking that the Food and Drug Administration would like to see on cigarette packaging likely violate the free-speech rights of tobacco companies, and he granted a preliminary injunction blocking their use.
Engadget's Darren Murph broke some of the tech details last week on a new Barnes & Noble tablet that will compete with the Amazon Fire. It turns out that it'll be unveiled today -- a bit earlier than Murph anticipated -- and whatever anybody else may say, the folks at B&N thinks they've got something that's even better than the generally well-received Fire. They'll have to, as some commentators point out.
Sy Syms cultivated "educated consumer[s]." In the end, they appear to have learned all too well. As have competitors. The off-price clothing chain announced Wednesday that it would be filing for bankruptcy, liquidating its merchandise and going out of business. It will take Filene's Basement, a disastrous bankruptcy-sale acquisition it made in June 2009, down and out with it. Or, some say, Filene's Basement took out Syms.
When I heard New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg talking on the radio about the "ING New York City Marathon" yesterday, it sounded a bit forced, like a Brooklyn cabdriver trying to speak "proper" King's English. But it got me thinking that while "ING" will never become a "Kleenex" or "Xerox" for a 26.22-mile endurance contest, it sure gets bandied about a lot in the week or so leading up to what has become a huge commercial event for the Big Apple.
The most popular story in the online Business Day section of the "New York Times" early this morning is the tale of a populist uprising, 2011-style, through social media. As Tara Siegel Bernard puts it, Bank of America "blinked" yesterday and reversed its decision to charge customers $5 for using their debit cards to access their own money.
It's a tale of two headlines this morning: "The Wall Street Journal" is watching a "Car Wreck: Honda and Toyota." The "San Francisco Chronicle"'s SF Gate, atop a Bloomberg News story, informs us that "Honda Sees Surprise U.S. Sales Gain Meeting Pent-Up Demand." Both are correct but the tale of what's happening with Honda, and where it may all be going, is instructive.