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February 2009, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, February 13, 2009

Starbucks Via - Shultz' Latest Venture to Expand the Brand

starbucks instant coffee

Friends of Howard Shultz may have wondered what he's been brewing in the backroom. Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has been slipping Starbucks Via, (instant coffee) to his friends, and Shultz claims they never commented about the taste. Little did they realize that they were virtual guinea pigs for the company's latest product.

To counter the heightened competition from McDonalds and reverse downward trends, Starbucks will roll out instant coffee on store shelves.bookman instant coffee Demand for instant coffee continues to grow, especially across the globe, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Starbucks executives say the market for instant coffee is so big, particularly overseas, they can no longer ignore it. In the U.K., for instance, 81% of coffee sales are instant. As the company cuts back on store growth, it's trying to find new ways to get more sales out of its existing stores. Starbucks will sell it for $2.95 for a pack of three and $9.95 for a pack of 12.

Via is the latest piece of evidence to support the theory that Starbucks is desperate to convince consumers it's affordable. A company that built its brand and quality and luxury, is now doing a 180. I'm curious to see if consumers are willing to take the bait.

Seinfeld fans remember the famous character Bookman,an instant coffee fanatic.

Starbucks Via - Shultz' Latest Venture to Expand the Brand By Matt O'Hern at 12:23 PM
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Moto Develops Google Android E Ink Kit

moto logo

 MOTO Development Group developed a custom USB driver to bring Google Android OS to the E Ink development kit.

What does that mean for the average consumer? According to MOTO, it means that Google's unique software can be applied to devices other than cell phones, such as "Wearable technology" and other "screen uses that demand long term deployment."

Here's a video for more information: 

Android Meets E Ink from MOTO Development Group on Vimeo.

Moto Develops Google Android E Ink Kit By Matt O'Hern at 11:23 AM
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Mixed Reports Cloud Financial Future for Pepsi

pepsi logo

 Pepsi, (NYSE: PEP) , released its  fourth quarter numbers, which revealed a 43% loss in net income, but  Pepsi Bottling Group (NYSE: PBG) the largest bottler of Pepsi drinks, reported better than expected quarterly results.

Pepsi Bottling Group CEO Eric Foss told Forbes:

A combination of strong revenue and margin management, effective cost and productivity initiatives, prudent working capital management and good execution at the point of sale enabled us to make the most of a difficult situation.

According to an article from CNNMoney, Pepsi Co. doesn't expect to see better numbers anytime soon.

The company also expects the first half of 2009 - and the first quarter in particular - will present "the most difficult" year-over-year comparisons due to commodity costs and foreign exchange rates.

Meanwhile, Pepsi's arch nemisis,  Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) also had a "better than expected" fourth quarter, but Chief Executive Muhtar Kent warned the Wall Street Journal that Coke may not reach its short term goals for growth. 

So where can we expect Pepsi to go from here? I guess the answer is hidden in the cola.

Mixed Reports Cloud Financial Future for Pepsi By Matt O'Hern at 11:02 AM
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Friday the 13th Fears Cost U.S. $900 million in lost business

friday 13 remake

Numbers have a funny impact on people, and Friday the 13th is the perfect example. According to a study by the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, the infamous date causes superstitous people to radically adjust their lifestyle on the dreaded day.

A National Geographic article titled "Friday the 13th rooted in ancient history" claims that 17 to 21 million people are afflicted by the phobia known as "paraskavedekatriaphobia" with symptoms ranging from mild anxiety to full blown panic attacks. included this interesting quote from the Phobia Institute's founder, Donald Dossey:

It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do.

jason voorheesOf course, you can't mention Friday the 13th without thinking of Jason Voorhees, the vengeful serial killer in a slasher horror movie franchise that, like Jason, just wouldn't die. Somehow they managed to create Jason 10 -A.K.A. Jason X, where Jason was frozen in time, picked up by a spaceship, and resurrected for "medical study". A remake, directed by  by Marcus Nispel, was released in theaters today. As for the historical roots, there's no clearly-defined single source, but it's tied to ancient fears regarding the number 13 and the day of Friday.Dossey credits  Paraskavedekatriaphobia to a a myth involving an unwanted, 13th guest who sabotaged a dinner party. He described the myth to National Geographic.

The uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.

Friday the 13th Fears Cost U.S. $900 million in lost business By Matt O'Hern at 10:19 AM
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Beware: Budget Car Rental Autovantage $10 Check Scam

I've seen some devious scams before, but last night I received one of the worst in memory. I was sorting through my mail, when I came across an envelope resembling a rebate check.

When I noticed the return address simply read "processing center" I questioned the legitimacy of the letter. Once I opened the check, I noticed it was for $10.00. I tried to recall any rebate form I'd filled out recently, but nothing came to mind. When I looked at the back, I saw the fine print above the signature line. It reads:

By cashing this check I agree to pay a thirty-day trial offer in AutoVantage Gold. I understand that the $64.99 semi-annual membership will be automatically billed to the card I have on file with Budget unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-584-2456 before the end of the trial period. My membership wil be automatically reneweed and I will also be billed every six-month period thereafter at $74.99 or the then-current fee unless I call to cancel for a refuned of the unused portion of the current fee. I authorize Budget to securely transfer my payment information to AutoVantage Gold for enrollment, billing and benefit processing and I authorize AutoVantage Gold to bill the semi-annual membership fee after my thirty-day trial.

budget autovantage check

Now, I know many of you may be thinking: "Anybody should read the fine print before they sign something." I counter that point with,
If Budget wasn't convinced many people would fall for this, they never would have sent it out, and if there wasn't such a deceptive method to it, their logo would have appeared on at least ONE spot of the letter.

You also have to consider many elderly people who can't read the fine print. I'm sure Budget isn't the first company to try this, but in the economic crunch we're in, people are searching for all the help they can get. Pulling a fast one on them with an enrollment "bonus" disguised as a check is just dirty.

Beware: Budget Car Rental Autovantage $10 Check Scam By Matt O'Hern at 09:24 AM
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coffee Wars: McDonalds Ad Prompts Starbucks to Shed Luxury Image.

mcdonlads vs. starbucks

Nobody likes to be pushed around on their home turf, and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)is finally starting to push back.  McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) taunted Starbucks with its "Four Bucks is Dumb" Billboards in Seattle,mcdonalds billboard and the gourmet coffee brewer is finally responding. Starbucks' is countering the McDonald's attack with food and drink combos under $4, and servers have been instructed to "remind" consumers that the average price of a Starbucks beverage is less than $3, and that 90% of Starbucks drinks cost under $4. In the wake of the economic recession,CEO Howard Shultz has decided to abandon the "affordable luxury" image and pursue a new course that appeals to consumers in the late 90's and early 2000s.

Shultz told the Wall Street Journal he expects the penny-pinching mindset to continue for the foreseeable future.

I strongly believe we are going to be in this environment for years. It is a reset of both economic and social behavior.

McDonald's marketing reminds me of Hyundais tactic with the Genesis commercials. They're capitalizing on the poor economy by showcasing a cheap yet supposedly SUPERIOR alternative to the luxury brand. Despite the harsh financial conditions many Americans are battling, the results from our poll "Is Starbucks worth the price?" indicate strong customer loyalty to the brand.starbucks poll

Incidently, McDonalds and Starbucks both enjoyed strong finishes to a year that was historically low for most major corporations.

Coffee Wars: McDonalds Ad Prompts Starbucks to Shed Luxury Image. By Matt O'Hern at 05:12 PM
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Nielsen Economic Current = New Tool for Gauging Consumer Habits

nielsen economic current

One of the most respected names in media analysis is adding the economy to its focus. Nielsen launched the Economic Current: a monthly study that will track key consumer and retailing trends on a global, regional and country-wide basis. Current will serve as a centralized for data regarding crucial economic areas, such as:

  • Market Index volume, in terms of unit and country currency change.
  • Retail channel shifting.
  • Shopping frequency and spending trends.

Todd Hale, Senior Vice President of Consumer & Shopper Insights at Nielsen, explained the methodology and the results Current will provide:

As we were thinking of new ways to leverage this valuable resource, we thought it would be useful to summarize this information and create a monthly snapshot of consumer and retail trends across the globe. We expect that the Nielsen Economic Current will provide our clients and others with another valuable tool for evaluating these trends at both a macro- and microeconomic level.

Nielsen will track all of the members of the G8. (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States) plus Spain, India and Brazil.The first report featured 31 pages of sobering summarizations and confirms our suspicions about the economy for months to come. Here's a sample from the report.nielsen economic report

Nielsen Economic Current = New Tool for Gauging Consumer Habits By Matt O'Hern at 01:46 PM
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Behind the Scenes with Garnett, Jeter and the Quest for G Commercial

Take a look at the creative process behind the scenes of the Quest for G commercial, starring Kevin Garnett, Derek Jeter, gymnast Alicia Sacramone, Usain Bolt,  the jabbawockeez dance crew, Usain Bolt and Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson.

 The Quest for G is a parody of Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail and one of several webisode series on, a spinoff from the Gatorade commercial series: What's G?. Thanks to Tammy Quach of Fleishman-Hillard marketing for providing us with the link.

Behind the Scenes with Garnett, Jeter and the Quest for G Commercial By Matt O'Hern at 11:27 AM
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Stuffit Droplets among new features in Stuffit Deluxe 2009 by Smith Micro

stuffit deluxe 2009

Thanks to Evie Smith of FortyThree PR, I got my hands on Stuffit Deluxe 2009 by Smith Micro Software (NASDAQ: SMSI)

First of all, I must admit that my experience with compression software is limited, so I represent any average consumer who buys the product.
Once I downloaded the software and went through the introduction, I noticed one of the highlights was the drag-and-drop shortcut. stuffit dropletsFor rookies like me, this was a lifesaver.
Within a few minutes, I transferred and compressed two folders with approximately 25 jpgs, and all I had to do was drop them in the Stuffit Shortcut on the desktop.
New features in the 2009 edition include:

  • New Archive Wizard
  • Compress and Email Wizard
  • Compress and FTP Wizard
  • Compress and Burn Wizard
  • StuffIt Droplets: Allows you to create unique compression and destination settings, and assign them to a Droplet. Dragging files and folders to that Droplet will create an archive using the settings from the profile you specified. You can make as many unique Droplets as you wish. Also, you can use Droplets even if StuffIt is not already running, just save your Droplet to the Desktop, or any convenient place on your system and then drag files and folders to the Droplet icon anytime. StuffIt will process the files without launching the full StuffIt application.
  • Contextual Menu enhancements:
    • Your recent and most frequent commands now appear at the top-level of theStuffIt Contextual Menu for quick access.
    • Schedule backups right from the StuffIt Contextual Menu.
  • Simplified User Interface.
    • StuffIt's Start Page now provides easy access to all of the wizards and tools as well as tutorials and news from smith micro.
    • StuffIt's Quick Tools page provides drag-and-drop targets for easy archive creation, expansion, or browsing.
    • StuffIt's Archive Manager page now presents more archive types.
  • Encoded archives (ie: are now browsable
  • Support for more formats:
  • Major SEA Builder enhancements including: 
    • Make smaller SEAs by storing the Payload on a Remote FTP server
  • StuffIt Plugins for Adobe Photoshop now support CS4. 

I have yet to utilize all of these features, but my first task was so simple that I look forward to using more of the valuable tools Smith Micro implemented.

Stuffit Droplets among new features in Stuffit Deluxe 2009 by Smith Micro By Matt O'Hern at 10:42 AM
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Q & A about Calliflower with Iotum CEO Alec Saunders

alec saunders

Earlier today, I sent three questions to Iotum CEO Alec Saunders. I wanted to know more about Calliflower and its distinguishing characteristics. (By the way, Saunders has his own blog for your reading enjoyment.)

My first question resulted in his longest response, so I'll save that one for last.

I'll start with my Facebook Integration question:

 Question 1:: Can you provide a simple & straightforward explanation of how Facebook integration works?

Alec Saunders:Calliflower has both a web version and a Facebook version.  Many of our customers are using Facebook in their marketing efforts in order to recruit more people to their online marketing events. They like to host calls in the Facebook environment.  What that means is that customers can invite participants from their Facebook friends list, broadcast the call and call details to their Facebook newsfeed, and manage the call from within the Facebook environment.  By leveraging Facebook, they drive more participants and ... more revenues.

Question 2: How did you arrive at the conclusion that he old school biz platform for  conferencing was 'dumb as rocks'?

Alec Saunders: For most people, conference calls are a necessary evil.  There are a litany of problems: 

  • They’re expensive, with confusing pricing models. 
  • They don’t give you useful information like who’s on the call, who’s planning to attend, what the call agenda is, or who wants to speak. 
  • Sound quality is frequently low, with bad echo problems or background noise.
  • People end up talking over one another without visible cues for who has the floor.

Standard conferencing solutions, such as you might buy from your local telephone company, haven’t evolved since the 1970’s -- the IBM mainframe era.  Solutions like ReadyTalk get you part way there, but they really haven’t escaped the chains of old-skool pricing models, and software systems.  To stretch an analogy, they’re more like a PC than an IBM mainframe.  Who’s the Apple Macintosh of the conferencing world?  That’s what we aim to be.

In today’s world, there really is no reason for people to put up with un-evolved telecom systems any more.  They’re dumb as rocks, and destined to go the way of the dodo

Question 3:: calliflower vs readytalkWhat distinct advantages does Iotum/Calliflower have over other flat-rate web conference providers, such as ReadyTalk?

Alec Saunders: It’s easier to participate, easier to moderate, and easier to share with Calliflower.  For example, I note that

  • ReadyTalk’s web conference feature requires you to download code.  Calliflower doesn’t. 

The last time I participate in a “download code” web conference, it took 22 minutes for me to get set up.  First, I had to download Java, then the web client, and then go back to email and find the web link, and then log in.  With Calliflower, it takes 30 seconds to start sharing a document – no downloads, no separate clients, no fuss, no muss.

  Calliflower is designed with user experience in mind and Price is a huge difference.

User experience:

  •  Everyone can see the other people who are on the call (including photos).  That means no more roll calls, no more irritating chimes when people come on or leave the call, and no more not knowing who’s on the call and who not.

All features are accessible from a web interface. That means no more remembering special key combo’s to mute lines, start recordings and so on.
Price: Calliflower: 

  • Premium $50 / month for unlimited calls with unlimited participants and unlimited web meetings.


  • Webconferencing: $49/month for up to 15 attendees + 15c per minute per additional participant.
  • Audio conferencing: 12c per minute.
  • Recordings: 12c per minute.
  • Recording  hosting: 20c per minute

What does all that nickel and diming add up to?  Let’s compare doing 4 webinars of 1 hour duration in a month, with 20 attendees.

1. Cost on Calliflower: $50

2. Cost on ReadyTalk: $49 + 4*(5 additional attendees * 60 minutes * .15) + 4*(20 attendees * 60 minutes * 12 cents) = $805

Other advantages:

  1. An international dial-in network.  London, Dublin, Belfast, Sydney, Singapore, Mexico City These are just a few of the over 50 cities where we have a local dial presence. 
  2. an incredible experience on iPhone that is hands-down the best way for any mobile worker to participate in a conference call.

Q & A about Calliflower with Iotum CEO Alec Saunders By Matt O'Hern at 04:19 PM
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My Favorite iPhone App of the Week - iMob

imob text

I was leaving Wal-Mart last night when I received a text from one of my old friends from college. He was practically begging me to download a new game in the App Store.I read Ben's message and thought:

  1. I usually don't enjoy those types of games.
  2. I'll give it a try, because it's one of the most popular games.
  3. Ben really needs to get out of the house more often. (Just kidding)

imob menuI obliged and within 10 minutes, I was money-hungry mobster trying to gain as much  power and influence as possible. You gain strength, weapons and income by completing certain missions, meeting with the Don  and knocking off the competition.

You can invite friends who are fellow iPhone owners to your mob via invites with your friend code. The larger your mob, the more likely you are to survive and advance. I must admit, I was pretty hooked for the first 30-45 minutes, but, like any game, the initial appeal wore off soon after, and I put it down for another day.

iMob was built with stong fundamental concepts that incorporate social networking, so you have to credit that feat to the developers- The Godfather.

My Favorite iPhone App of the Week - iMob By Matt O'Hern at 03:10 PM
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Cost-cutting 101 with Iotum Calliflower Unlimited Web Conferences

calliflower logo

iotum logoAs companies in every industry cut costs, webinars have become increasingly appealing as an alternative to conventional methods for B2B communications that require excessive amounts of time and travel.

As a result, web conference platform hosts are creating flat-fee programs that offer unlimited use of their service, similar to the evolution of ISP's in the mid-to-late 90s. (Remember when we used to pay by the minute?)

Alec Saunders, CEO of Iotum, realized that most businesses are tired of the conventional payment system for web conferences. At Iotum, the core philosophy is:

Let people communicate with whom they want, when they want and on the device they want...Because old-school conference calling is a lucrative, high-margin business that's dumb as rocks and ripe to be disrupted by a service that meets the needs of real people and not corporate bean counters.

Iotum caters to the customer by providing simple yet intuitive  web conference tools that meet the growing needs of a broad range of customer.s Iotum's latest innovation is Calliflower.

Calliflowers features include:

    * Participant avatars
    * Moderation controls
    * Call recording
    * Convenient Text chat
    * Document sharing
    * Archives
    * MP3 archives
    * Chat
    * Teleseminar hosting
    * Podcasting events
    * Facebook integration
    * Calliflower mobile for iPhone
    * Unlimited calls
    * Unlimited participants
    * Unlimited document sharing

Iotum just launched the Calliflower Affiliate Marketing Network, providing marketing opportunities for Calliflower users and resellers. The Calliflower Affiliate Network pays affiliates a monthly recurring commission on all sales of Calliflower. For each month that users subscribe to the Premium Edition of Calliflower, the affiliate earns a commission of 25 percent of the revenue received by iotum. Calliflower affiliates can earn additional revenues by signing new affiliates to the Calliflower Affiliate Network as well.

 Saunders explained the inspiration behind Calliflower and the Affiliate Marketing Network

In today's economy where we are trying to do more with less, Calliflower makes the difference. Calliflower is a natural offering for affiliate marketing, because it's so useful and easy to sell....Everyone makes conference calls.Our affiliate partners should be able to build a nice recurring monthly income by simply helping their customers, associates and friends to have better online meetings.

Premium plans start at $50 per month, with unlimited calls to unlimited participants and unlimited document sharing. I played the role of consumer advocate and sent Saunders three questions:

1. What distinct advantages does Iotum/Calliflower have over other flat-rate web conference providers, such as ReadyTalk?

2. Can you provide a simple & straightforward explanation of how Facebook integration works?

3.  How did you arrive at the conclusion that he old school biz platform for  conferencing was 'dumb as rocks'?

I'll write a follow-up post with Saunders' reply.

Cost-cutting 101 with Iotum Calliflower Unlimited Web Conferences By Matt O'Hern at 02:12 PM
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Random House & John Grisham close to E-Book deal w/ Amazon

john grishamOne of the most succesful authors of the past two decades, John Grisham is working with Random House to finalize a deal with Amazon that would release 22 of his titles in ebook format, just in time for the Kindle 2. Grisham , New York Times  bestelling author without ebooks available for purchase.

David Gernert, Grisham's agent, told the Wall Street Journal::

There was a period when John and I felt it was a good idea to watch the world of e-books evolve before diving in. Now that it's a more mature marketplace, he will be available very soon in all digital formats.


random house

E-Book sales could prove to be the path to recoveryfor  Random House  after Irwyn Applebaum left  back in Dec. In my  post:Digital Age Hurts Random House, Simon and Schuster.   I wrote:

These unfavorable conditions should pressure publishers consider a significant shift to alternate forms of media, especially digital publishing via audiobooks and software similar to the Stanza application for iPhone.

Random House & John Grisham close to E-Book deal w/ Amazon By Matt O'Hern at 10:25 AM
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Could Sirius XM Radio be on the verge of extinction?

sirius xm tombstone

Homeowners aren't the only ones struggling to refinance.

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) has $175 million to refinance this month and $960 million by the end of the year. According to the report from the Wall Street Journal, bankruptcy could be just around the corner for the Satellite Radio provider.
 Sirius XM had approximately $360 million of cash on its balance sheet but $2.8 billion of long-term debt at Sept. 30, the latest figures available. Last July, Sirius raised $700 million through a sale of junk bonds to close the deal and followed that with the sale of $550 million in bonds.

What it didn’t do was refinance another $1 billion in debt whose maturity was triggered by Sirius’s combination with XM. Sirius opted to wait until the debt markets improved. And when they didn’t, it undertook discussions with its banks in November, December and January. No dice; by then it was too late.

Increased competition has surfaced from streaming radio services such as CBS Radio. Echostar CEO Charles Ergen offered to take control of the company last year, but he was denied. Instead, Sirius XM tried entice more customers, they offered lifetime subscriptions, and I wondered, Which will die first- Sirius XM Radio or your subscription?

I warned:

Signing a lifetime contract with XM might be as risky as signing a 70-year old smoker to a life-insurance policy.


Could Sirius XM Radio be on the verge of extinction? By Matt O'Hern at 09:15 AM
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009 and Provide Free Audiobooks

podiobooks logolibrivox logo

Let's face it, we're all pinching pennies right now. As a result, comparison shopping applies to almost every purchase, and if there's a cheaper or free alternative, we'll take it, especially if it's not a necessity.

That's why I believe sites like will increase in popularity over the next few months, and perhaps years to come.
Yesterday, I mentioned the text-to-audio, known as the "Read to me" feature on the next Amazon Kindle, but let's be honest, most middle-class American's don't have $360 to spend on such a luxury item. Instead, we'll search for a similar application on a smart phone we've already spent hundreds of dollars on.podiobooks-subscribe

A few months ago, I offered my review of the Stanza App, a digital reader from LexCycle that provides free access to books in public domain. I was so impressed Stanza, I wondered if there was a similar site or app for free audiobooks. Thanks to our readers' comments, I discovered Librivox a non-profit org which features books in public domain, and podiobooks, which provides free books via RSS feeds. 

Podiobook's platform is a win-win for listeners and authors, because the  readers get free audio and the authors receive 75% of any listener donations, which are encouraged, (but not required), after each download. The remaining 25% covers overhead on the site's end.
On podiobooks, listeners can access titles from 20 different genres (including public domain) by clicking on each individual chapter, or subscribing to a chapter at a time. Listeners can determine the frequency each chapter arrives- from every day, every other day, every week, every other week, every three weeks or once a month.
Podiobooks gives authors the option to narrate their own tale or a professional narrator will recite their work. podiobooks-65-belowPodiobooks  was co-founded by Evo Terra, Tee Morris and Chris Miller. I recommend a visit to I listened to  the first episode of 65 Below by Basil Sands, and I'm already hooked. and Provide Free Audiobooks By Matt O'Hern at 04:38 PM
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A-Rod vs. Barry Bonds: Lessons in Humility and Reputation Management

arod vs bonds

By now, you've learned that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was confirmed as a steroid user. The resulting stigma will damage his place in pro baseball history, and many fans were frustrated by the fact he only confessed after allegations surfaced last week. It was a 180 from his answer to Katie Couric and CBS in late 2007. Just over a year later, he spilled his guts to Peter Gammons of ESPN.

When you take this gorilla and this monkey off your back, you realize that honesty is the only way.I'm finally beginning to grow up. I'm pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, you know, about myself. The truth needed to come out a long time ago. I'm glad it's coming out today. 

It feels good coming out and being completely honest, the more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get baseball where it needs to be.

I'm not trying to sound like Dr. Phil, but mixed messages never lead to good results, whether its in politics, friendships, romantic relationships,or public relations.  For us, the general public, it's hard to believe A-Rod's recent apology is genuine, because he wasn't honest from the beginning.

However, there is a silver lining for A-Rod, he didn't pull a Barry Bonds and continue to lie about his past, even after the results were released. I think most athletes and public figures can save face if they admit their mistakes, because America is the land of second chances. Barry Bonds insulted our intelligence, interview after interview, and season after season, so he never even gave us the chance to forgive him, and as a result, his reputation is one of the lowest in all of professional sports.

Granted, A-Rod probably lost a significant chunk of his fan base, but I don't think it's totally eroded. Jason Giambi admitted his use, and he climbed his way back as one of the fan favorites in the Bronx.

Business can learn a lot from the cases of A-Rod and Bonds. If and when adversity arrives, you can keep your walls up and try to conceal the truth , or you can take the transparent approach, and open up to your customers and clients by admitting your faults and mistakes.

A-Rod vs. Barry Bonds: Lessons in Humility and Reputation Management By Matt O'Hern at 11:13 AM
Comments (2) Blends Social Networking and Fashion Community

frenzoo logofrenzoo avatarRecently, I received an email from Derek Kean at Frenzoo, a unique site that combines social networking and fashion design via 3D avatars.

(Think The Sims).

Kean listed the distingusihing charactersistics that make Frenzoo relavently different from its competitor, Meez.

  • The Frenzoo community is actively involved in reducing any "clutter" that comes in. 

Where most of the 3D avatar sites offer live chat, we do not- simply to keep spammers and bots from running our communiity. 

Kean went on to  explain Frenzoo's advantage.

We have the option for our users to design their own fashion in a very sophisticated editing tool, reducing the need for us to make the community, and giving the end-user back their freedom to choose a path.

Notice the emphasis in the last paragraph- empower the user.

Companies are realizing that the key to success in this economy is to give more control to your  customer base, regardless of the product or service offers. The soonermarketers and public relations experts realize that the consumer has more power point in history, the sooner they'll optimize their marketing strategy. Blends Social Networking and Fashion Community By Matt O'Hern at 10:20 AM
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Monday, February 09, 2009

Arstechnica Reports China Mobile Limited at odds with Apple

chinese flag

I was reading through arstechnica when I discoverd this post claiming that China Mobile Limited (NYSE:CHL) told Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) NOT SO FAST on selling the iPhone.

According arstechnica's story, China Mobile wants control of the App Store, and Steve Jobs isn't compromising. Apple's alternative carriers are China Unicom or China Telecom, which are both smaller than China Mobile Limited. CML expects to have 3G capability in 10 core cities by next month.

Arstechnica Reports China Mobile Limited at odds with Apple By Matt O'Hern at 01:45 PM
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Amazon Kindle 2 Will Include Text-To-Speech Reader

kindle 2

Amazon made major headlines today when it unveiled the Kindle 2 reader, which will be released Feb. 24, with a pre-oder price of $359.

The new electronic reader touts:

  • Slim design: (1/3 inch)
  • Lightweight: 10.2 oucnes
  • Improved Display
  • Longer battery life than the original kindle : 25% more power.
  • More Storage: Up to 1,500 books
  • Faster reading: 20% quicker page turns. 
  • Read to me:  Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud.

(I wonder if you can download different voices or author voices for certain novels)

Low prices on major titles: New York Times Bestsellers will go for $9.99.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Steven King is working on an exclusive book for the new Kindle.Personally, I think the text-to-speech feature is a MAJOR selling point, because it replaces the need to buy an audiobook for travel.

Amazon Kindle 2 Will Include Text-To-Speech Reader By Matt O'Hern at 10:42 AM
Comments (1) Partners w/ Hyundai Think Tank Customer Network

hyundai think tank

To adjust to the current economy, Hyundai is reinventing its image. You may recall my post about the flashy commercial comparing the Genesis vs. BMW and Mercedez.

Another angle Hyundai employs is its reassurance campaign, which promises: "Finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if in the next year you lose your income, we'll let you return it. That's the Hyundai Assurance.

Then there's the latest angle:

Drive customer advocacy with ownership of ideas.

That's the concept behind Hyundai's latest brand  online upgrade, called the Hyundai Think Tank. (Thanks to Tyler Perry of the Bateman Group, for giving us the details. ) Think Tank combines social networking and customer feedback. Hyundai described the purpose behind the site:

  Think Tank activities will initially revolve around two major corporate initiatives. The first is expanding the brand with the new Hyundai Genesis vehicles. The second is Blue Drive, Hyundai’s new initiative to produce eco-friendly products that will help Hyundai establish itself as an environmental leader with a fleet average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon by 2015.

I believe Think Tank is a step in the right direction for Hyundai, because it empowers the conusmer (or at least creates that illusion) and it taps into the growing demand for direct interaction with a company.At Mplanet2009Wharton Professor Jerry Wind  advised markters to create a platform that encourages the consumer to interact and leverage the power of open innovation and network orchestration.

Judging from Think Tank's layout, they applied Wind's principles. Partners w/ Hyundai Think Tank Customer Network By Matt O'Hern at 08:35 AM
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Odd Item of the Month from Dave Barry: Body Orifice Security Scanner

boss chair

Thanks to humor columnist  Dave Barry and his blog, I found this link to the ultimate example of a product to file under: niche market- BOSS: Body Orifice Security Scanner.

With a product name like that, it's function seems self explanatory, but in case you were wondering, here are some of the selling points listed on the site:

1. B.O.S.S. minimizes the need for unpleasant intrusive manual searches and increases the safety of officers and inmates.

2. B.O.S.S. is equipped with wheels, allowing it to be moved to cell blocks and other locations for snap inspections. It can be moved by tilting the chair backwards and wheeling it like a wheelbarrow.


Evidently, sourceny, the contact for the product, has been flooded with calls questioning if this is a legit product.  boss scanner noticeMaybe their motto should be, Leave the dirty work for BOSS.




P.S. You can also purchase an extra large version, Bigg BOSS and the latest model, BOSS 2.

Odd Item of the Month from Dave Barry: Body Orifice Security Scanner By Matt O'Hern at 07:45 AM
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White Lies, Metro Station to tap MTV Push Online Platform

mtv push

Rising bands such as White Lies will get the chance to showcase their skills with MTV's various assets, when MTV Push launches in March.

MTV describes Push as a coverage breakthrough for emerging acts, with unique  multi-platform content using MTV’s on-air and digital assets, which number more than 140 windows."

MTVNI Executive Vice President of Music Brands Antonio Campo Dall’Orto explained the inspiration behind MTV Push and MTV World Stage:

Music remains one of the fundamental pillars of our brand and our business MTV World Stage and MTV Push are two of many exciting new initiatives from MTVNI designed to leverage our unique knowledge and strength across the global network. These projects are part of a process to broaden our vision and further enhance the brand experience.

Metro Station's Mason Musso, Trace Cyrus, Blake Healy and Anthony Improgo began performing together in Los Angeles in 2006. Their first pop single, "Shake It," is already a multi-platinum success in the U.S. Metro Station is currently on tour in Europe.

 Consider White Lies, a rock band from West London,  Coldplay in the making. White Lies debuted at No 1 on the UK Album Chart with Their first album: To Lose My Life. They have released three singles, "Unfinished Business", "Death" and "To Lose My Life". They continue to tour in Europe, the US and Japan throughout the first half of 2009.

White Lies, Metro Station to tap MTV Push Online Platform By Matt O'Hern at 06:38 AM
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Viacom to launch MTV World Stage with Coldplay Tokyo Concert

mtv world stageEyes around the world will be watching when Coldplay performs live at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Feb. 27.
The Modern British Rock Superstars off MTV World Stage- a series devoted to providing live access to the world's most popular concerts. MTV described the new weekly show in a press release from MTV International:

MTV World Stage proves that all-the-world IS a stage. The series will be taped in high definition and will feature dozens of multi-genre talent with global relevance. Whether in Athens, Rome, London, Buenos Aires, Beijing or Tokyo, every Friday night is live music night on MTV as fans in 162 countries are transported to front row seats somewhere in the world to experience their favourite recording artists.
 coldplay logo

Upcoming MTV World Stage concerts feature bands ranging from alternative to  teen pop to metal. The Pussycat Dolls and Katy Perry play March 6, followed by Slipknot March 13 and Oasis on March 20.

Viacom to launch MTV World Stage with Coldplay Tokyo Concert By Matt O'Hern at 06:08 AM
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« February 2009 Week 1 February 2009 Week 3 »

  • Week 1 (20 entries) February 1-7
  • Week 2 (23 entries) February 8-14
  • Week 3 (16 entries) February 15-21
  • Week 4 (19 entries) February 22-28

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