Friday, September 02, 2011

10 Brands that are dead in 2012

From Yahoo and 24/7.

24/7 Wall St. has created a new list of brands that will disappear, which includes Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD - News), Sony Pictures (NYSE: SNE - News), American Apparel (NYSE: APP - News), Nokia (NYSE: NOK - News), Saab, A&W All-American Foods Restaurants, Soap Opera Digest, Sony Ericsson, MySpace (NYSE: NWS.A - News), and Kellogg's Corn Pops. (NYSE: K - News).

Each year, 24/7 Wall St. regularly compiles a list of brands that are going to disappear in the near-term. Last year's list proved to be prescient in many instances, predicting the demise of T-Mobile among others. In late May, AT&T (NYSE: T - News) and Deutsche Telekom announced that AT&T would buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. The deal would add 34 million customers to the company and create the country's largest wireless operator.

Other 2010 nominees — including Blockbuster — bit the dust, while companies such as Dollar Thrifty are on the road to oblivion. Last September, after finally giving in to competition from Netflix and buckling under nearly $1 billion in debt, Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In April of this year, Dish Network acquired the company for $320 million. Car rental chain Dollar Thrifty is still entertaining buyout offers from Avis and Hertz. On June 6, the embattled company recommended that its shareholders not accept Hertz's recent offer, valued at $2.24 billion, or $72 a share. Meanwhile, on June 13th, Avis Budget announced that "it had made progress in its discussion with the Federal Trade Commission regarding its potential acquisition" of the company. Although Dollar Thrifty can remain choosy, a sale is a matter of when, not if.

We also missed the mark on a few companies. Notably, Kia, Moody's, BP, and Zale appear to be doing better than we expected.

Brands that have stood the test of time for decades are falling by the wayside at an alarming rate. For instance, Pontiac, a major car brand since 1926, is gone, shut down by a struggling GM. Blockbuster is in the process of dismantling, after it once controlled the VHS and DVD markets. House & Garden folded after 106 years. It succumbed to the advertising downturn, a lot of competition, and the cost of paper and postage. Its demise echoed the 1972 shutdown of what is probably the most famous magazines in history — Life. That was a long time ago but serves to demonstrate that no brand is too big to fail if it is overwhelmed by competition, new inventions, costs, or poor management.

This year's list of The Ten Brands That Will Disappear takes a methodical approach in deciding which brand would walk the plank. The major criteria were as follows: (1) a rapid fall-off in sales and steep losses; (2) disclosures by the parent of the brand that it might go out of business; (3) rapidly rising costs that are extremely unlikely to be recouped through higher prices; (4) companies which are sold; (5) companies that go into bankruptcy; (6) firms that have lost the great majority of their customers; or (7) operations with rapidly withering market share. Each of the ten brands on the list suffer from one or more of these problems. Each of the ten will be gone, based on our definitions, within 18 months.

1. Sony Pictures
Sony has a studio production arm which has nothing to do with its core businesses of consumer electronics and gaming. Sony bought what was Columbia Tri-Star Picture in 1989 for $3.4 billion. This entertainment operation has done poorly recently. Sony's fiscal year ends in March, and for the period, revenue for the group dropped 15% to $7.2 billion and operating income fell by 10% to $466 million. Sony is in trouble. It lost $3.1 billion in its latest fiscal year on revenue of $86.5 billion. Sony's gaming system group is under siege by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT - News) and Nintendo. Its consumer electronics group faces an overwhelming challenge from Apple. The company's future prospects have been further damaged by the Japan earthquake and the hack of its large PlayStation Network. CEO Howard Stringer is under pressure to do something to increase the value of Sony's shares. The only valuable asset with which he can easily part is Columbia which would attract interest from a number of large media operations. Sony Entertainment will disappear with the sale of its assets.
2. A&W
A&W Restaurants is owned by fast food holding company giant Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM - News) which has had the firm for sale since January. There have been no buyers. The chain was founded in 1919. The size of the company grew rapidly, and immediately after WWII 450 franchises were opened. The firm pioneered the "drive in" fast food format. A&W began to sell canned versions of its sodas in 1971 — the part of the business that will survive as a container beverage business which is now owned by Dr. Pepper/Snapple. The A&W Restaurant business is too small to be viable now. It had 322 outlets in the U.S and 317 outside the U.S at the end of last year. All were operated by franchisees. By contrast, Yum!'s flagship KFC had 5,055 stores in the U.S. and 11,798 overseas. Two massive global fast food chains are even larger. Subway has 35,000 locations worldwide, and McDonald's has nearly as many. A&W does not have the ability to market itself against these chains and at least a dozen other fast food operators like Burger King. And, A&W does not have the size to efficiently handle food purchases, logistics, and transportation costs compared to competitors many times as large.
3. Saab
The first Saab car was launched in 1949 by Swedish industrial firm Svenska Aeroplan. The firm produced a series of sedans and coups, the flagship of which was the 900 series, released in 1978. About one million of these would eventually be sold. Saab's engineering reputation and the rise in its international sales attracted GM to buy half the company in 1989 and the balance in 2000. Saab's problem, which grew under the management of the world's No.1 automobile manufacturer, was that it was never more than a niche brand in an industry dominated by very large players such as Ford and Chevrolet. It did not build very inexpensive cars like VW did, or expensive sports cars as Porsche did. Saab's models were, in price and features, up against models from the world's largest car companies that sold hundreds of thousands of units each year. Saab also did not have a wide number of models to suit different budgets and driver tastes. GM decided to jettison the brand in late 2008, and the small company quickly became insolvent. Saab finally found a buyer in high-end car maker Spyker which took control of the company last year. Spyker quickly ran low on money because only 32,000 Saabs were sold in 2010. Spyker turned to Chinese industrial investors for money. Pang Da Automobile agreed to take an equity stake in the company. But, the agreement is not binding, and with a potential of global sales which are still below 50,000 a year based on manufacturing and marketing operations, and demand, Saab is no longer a financially viable brand.

4. American Apparel
The once-hip retailer reached the brink of bankruptcy earlier this year, and there is no indication that it has gained anything more than a little time with its latest financing. It currently trades as a penny stock. The company had three stores and $82 million in revenue in 2003. Those numbers reached 260 stores and $545 million in 2008. For the first quarter of this year, the retailer had net sales for the quarter of $116.1 million, a 4.7% decline over sales of $121.8 million in the same period a year ago. Comparable store sales declined 8% on a constant currency basis. American Apparel posted a net loss for the period of $21 million. Comparable store sales have flattened, which means the firm likely will continue to post losses. American Apparel is also almost certainly under gross margin pressure because of the rise in cotton prices. The retailer raised $14.9 million in April by selling shares at a discount of 43% to a group of private investors led by Canadian financier Michael Serruya and Delavaco Capital. According to Reuters, the 15.8 million shares sold represented 20.3 percent of the company's outstanding stock on March 31. That sum is not nearly enough to keep American Apparel from going the way of Borders. It is a small, under-funded player in a market with very large competitors with healthy balance sheets. It does not help matters that the company's founder and CEO, Dov Charney, has been a defendant in several lawsuits filed by former employees alleging sexual harassment.
5. Sears
The parent of Sears and Kmart — Sears Holdings — is in a lot of trouble. Total revenue dropped $341 million to $9.7 billion for the quarter which closed April 30, 2011. The company had a net loss of $170 million. Sears Holdings was created by a merger of the parents of the two chains on March 24, 2005. The operation has been a disaster ever since. The company has tried to run 4,000 stores which operate across the US and Canada. Neither Sears nor Kmart have done well recently, but Sears' domestic locations same store numbers were off 5.2% in the first quarter and Kmart's were down 1.6%. Last year domestic comparable store sales declined 1.6% in the total, with an increase at Kmart of .7% and a decline at Sears Domestic of 3.6%. New CEO Lou D'Ambrosio recently said of the last quarter that, "we also fell short on executing with excellence. We cannot control the weather or economy or government spending. But we can control how we execute and leverage the potent set of assets we have." D'Ambrosio needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat soon. Sharex are down 55% during the last five years. D'Ambrosio's only reasonable solution to the firm's financial problems is to stop supporting two brands which compete with one another and larger rivals such as Walmart (NYSE: WMT - News) and Target (NYSE: TGT - News). The cost to market two brands and maintain stores which overlap one another geographically must be in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Employee and supply chain costs are also gigantic. The path D'Ambrosio is likely to take is to consolidate two brand into one — keeping the better performing Kmart and shuttering Sears.
6. Sony Ericsson
Sony Ericsson was formed by the two large consumer electronics companies to market the handset offerings each had handled separately. The venture started in 2001, before the rise of the smartphone. Early in its history, it was one of the biggest handset manufacturers along with Nokia (NYSE: NOK - News), Samsung, LG, and Motorola. Sales of Sony Ericsson phones were originally helped by the popularity of other Sony portable devices like the Walkman. Sony Ericsson's product development lagged behind those of companies like Apple (NYSE: AAPL - News) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM - News) which dominated the high end smartphone industry early. Sony Ericsson also relied on the Symbian operating system which was championed by market leader Nokia, but which it has abandoned in favor of Microsoft's Windows mobile operating system because of license costs and difficulty with programmers. In a period when smartphone sales worldwide are rising in the double digits and sales of the iPhone double year over year, Sony Ericsson's unit sales dropped from 97 million in 2008 to 43 million last year. New competitors like HTC now outsell Sony Ericsson by widening numbers. Sony Ericsson management expects several more quarters of falling sales and the company has laid off thousands of people. There have been rumors, backed by logic, that Sony will take over the operation, rebrand the handsets with its name, and market them in tandem with its PS3 consoles and VAIO PCs.
7. Kellogg's Corn Pops
The cereal business is not what is used to be, at least for products that are not considered "healthy." Among those is Kellogg's Corn Pops ready-to-eat cereal. Sales of the brand dropped 18% over the year that ended in April, down to $74 million. That puts it well behind brands like Cheerios and Frosted Flakes, each which have sales of over $200 million a year. Private label sales have also hurt sales of branded cereals. Revenues in this category were $637 million over the same April-end period. There is also profit margin pressure on Corn Pops because of the sharp increase in corn prices. Kellogg's describes the product as being "crispy, glazed, crunchy, sweet." Corn Pops also contain mono- and diglycerides, used to bind saturated fat, and BHT for freshness, which is also used in embalming fluid. None of these are likely to be what mothers want to serve their children in an age in which a healthy breakfast is more likely to be egg whites and a bowl of fresh fruit.
8. MySpace
MySpace, once the world's largest social network, died a long time ago. It will get buried soon. News Corp (NYSE: NWS - News) bought MySpace and its parent in 2005 for $580 million, which was considered inexpensive at the time based on the web property's size. MySpace held the top spot among social networks based on visitors from mid-2006 until mid-2008, according to several online research services. It was overtaken by Facebook at that point. Facebook has 700 million members worldwide now and recently passed Yahoo! (NYSE: YHOO - News) as the largest website for display advertising based on revenue. News Corp was able to get an exclusive advertising deal worth $900 million shortly after it bought the property, but that was its sales high-water mark. Its audience is currently estimated to be less that 20 million visitors in the US. Why did MySpace fall so far behind Facebook? No one knows for certain. It may be that Facebook had more attractive features for people who wanted to share their identities online. It may have been that it appealed to a younger audience which tends to spend more time online. News Corp announced in February that it would sell MySpace. There were no serious bids. Rumors surfaced recently that a buyer may take the website for $100 million. The brand is worth little if anything. A buyer is likely to kill the name and fold the subscriber base into another brand. News Corp has hinted it will close MySpace if it does not find a buyer.
9. Soap Opera Digest
The magazine's future has been ruined by two trends. The first is the number of cancellations of soap operas. Long-lived shows which include "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" have been canceled and replaced by talk shows, which are less expensive to air. The other insurmountable challenge is the wide availability of details on soap operas online. Some of the shows even have their own fan sites. News about the industry, in other words, is now distributed and no longer in one place. Soap Opera Digest's first quarter advertising pages fell 21% in the first quarter and revenue was down 18% to $4 million. In 2000, the magazine's circulation was in excess of 1.1 million readers. By 2005 it fell below 500,000 where it has remained for the last 5 years. Source Interlink Media, the magazine's parent, which also owns automotive, truck, and motorcycle publications, has little reason to support a product based on a dying industry.
10. Nokia
Nokia is dead. Shareholders are just waiting for an undertaker. The world's largest handset company has one asset. Nokia sold 25% of the global total of 428 million units sold in the first quarter. Its problem is that in the industry the company is viewed as a falling knife. Its market share in the same quarter of 2010 was nearly 31%. The arguments that Nokia will not stay independent are numerous. It has a very modest presence in the rapidly growing smartphone industry which is dominated by Apple, Research In Motion's Blackberry, HTC, and Samsung. Nokia runs the outdated Symbian operating system and is in the process of changing to Microsoft's Windows mobile OS, which has a tiny share of the market.
Nokia would be an attractive takeover target to a large extent because the cost to "buy" 25% of the global handset market would only be $22 billion based on Nokia's current market cap. Obviously, a buyer would need to pay a premium, but even $30 billion is within reach of several companies. Potential buyers would start with HTC, the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world. Its sales have doubled in both the last quarter and the last year. HTC will sell as many as 80 million handsets in 2011. The Taiwan-based company's challenge would be whether it could finance such a large deal. The other three likely bidders do not have that problem. Microsoft, which is Nokia's primary software partner, could easily buy the company and is often mentioned as a suitor. The world's largest software company recently moved further into the telecom industry though its purchase of VoIP giant Skype, which has 170 million active customers. Two other large firms have many reasons to buy Nokia. Samsung, part of one of the largest conglomerates in Korea, has publicly set a goal to be the No.1 handset company in the world by 2014. The parent company is the largest in South Korea with revenue in 2010 of $134 billion. A buyout of Nokia would launch Samsung into the position as the world's handset leader. LG Electronics, the 7th largest company in South Korea, with sales of $48 billion, is by most measures the third largest smartphone company. It has the scale and balance sheet to takeover Nokia. The only question about the Finland-based company is whether a buyer would maintain the Microsoft relationship or change to the popular Android OS to power Nokia phones.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Quest for Leadership

In the quest for understanding what makes a good leader, I found some very quick, easy to understand, and valuable quotes.  Take a look at the most important words about leadership:

o                      The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake."
o                      The five most important words: "You did a good job."
o                      The four most important words: "What is your opinion."
o                      The three most important words: "If you please."
o                      The two most important words: "Thank you,"
o                      The one most important word: "We"
o                      The least important word: "I"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Posting Links for Companies

There are many ways to make additional income from the internet. One of the ways is to create niche sites providing valuable content to people searching for information. Once you have created the sites, which many times can be done completely free, you add advertisements from Google or other companies.

Once you have the idea for a website or information niche site, you could use some of the following:
  • Blogger - free from Google
  • Hubpages
  • Wordpress
You also need to learn a bit about what people are searching for, and after practicing at attracting visitors, you could purchase a domain name from

GoDaddy.Com Hosting just $1.99/mo! 120x60

Check out my next article to learn the next step in the process - identifying the niches to target by learning about Search Engine Tools like GoogleAdwords (keyword research tool).

The Shift - looks like an interesting read

BOOKS | Lynda Gratton advises us not to waste time trying to figure out what the future of work will look like. She believes that it is already here and happening right now.

According to Lynda Gratton’s latest book, “The Shift: The future of work is already here”, five forces will fundamentally shape how we work during the next 10 to 15 years: globalization, society, demography, technology and longevity, and energy resources.  She should know. Gratton is a professor of management practice at London Business School. In 2008, The Financial Times identified her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade and The Economist recognized her as ‘leading the world’s top 200 business minds to predict the future of work’.

Her main advice: the future of work starts now by making three big ‘shifts’ in your life:

• From “shallow generalist to serial master”: Being a ‘jack of all trades’ means jack (little or nothing) in a world of Wikipedia and instantly accessible information at our fingertips. The key is to become specialized masters with the ability to respond as conditions around us change.

• From “isolated competitor to innovative connector”: Building strong, deep relationships with people in different communities around you will be key to working successfully in the future. These include ‘your posse’ of people you’ve known for a long time who have the same expertise as you who can provide just-in-time advice, feedback and perspective), the ‘big ideas network’ of people who are completely different to you who inspire you and give you new ideas and ‘the regenerative community’ of people who help you relax and enjoy life.

• From “voracious consumer to impassioned producer”: Gratton writes that people have to pursue work that is innovative and inspiring makes them productive, fulfilled and proud.

In Gratton’s words, “the challenge is to lead a more purposeful working life, where we can create a stronger sense of who we are and what we care about, and the choices we face and their possible consequences”.

It’s an exciting possibility that the world could become a completely different and more interesting place if only we take her advice to heart.

Check out the link to her book:

How to create an Apple App

I have been searching for a tool to help create 'free' apps for the Apple Iphone, Ipad, & Ipod.  You will have to buy a tool to do this - and there are many good sites you can find that describe the process.  Basically there are two ways to go - brainstorm your idea, then start to learn the system.
Here’s how our process basically works:
  1. You come up with an idea for your app
  2. You write that idea down, then make a rough sketch of how it will work and how it will look
  3. Hand it off to a low-cost App Developer Team who will create the app for you
  4. Submit your app to Apple who will review it and then post it to the App Store
  5. After approval - you would then be eligible for people to download it
You will not have to spend anything on a development kit from Apple, however you will need to spend $99 to upload it to the Apple Store, and you will also need a way to test it. I think they recommend having a Mac, otherwise testing will be difficult.

Another way is to try a few tools like this -

App Dev Toolkit

App Toolkit for non programmers

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Electronic Warranties - Are they worth it?

I have been in the electronics industry and specifically in the warranty side of things. The question is are extended warranties for electronics worth it?

I would say it depends on the manufacturer, the type of product, who uses it and the cost of replacement. Now this requires a little math - basically take the cost of replacement - times the chance it needs to be replaced.

Fortunately, there are providers out there that can help reduce the cost of replacement. This is especially good if you are buying something that is critical and also prone to loss. Think IPods, Ipads, Nintendo DS, Blackberry's, etc.

Check out SquareTrade - it is the best deal out there for coverage, which you can buy after the fact or from Amazon.

Square Trade Warranty

More information on Science Projects

Take a look at the information below, which is adapted from an article I found on the net.

Key Info

  • The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.
  • The steps of the scientific method are to:
    • Ask a Question
    • Do Background Research
    • Construct a Hypothesis
    • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    • Communicate Your Results
  • It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.

Overview of the Scientific Method

The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.
Just as it does for a professional scientist, the scientific method will help you to focus your science fair project question, construct a hypothesis, design, execute, and evaluate your experiment.
Overview of the Scientific Method

What is the scientific method?

I have 3 children and we have to do elementary school scientific projects each year. Each and every year, we struggle to find appropriate science projects that we can do. Two things: what is the scientific method?

Here is a definition:
A systematic approach to solving a problem by discovering knowledge, investigating a phenomenon, verifying and integrating previous knowledge. It follows a series of steps that evaluates the veracity or the feasibility of a prediction through research and experimentation from where the information obtained will be used as a basis in making conclusions.

The fundamental steps of scientific method are:
(1) Identifying the problem to solve
(2) Formulating a tentative answer or hypothesis
(3) Testing the hypothesis
(4) Gathering and analyzing data
(5) Making conclusions

Finding Science Experiements:
Here are a few sites that you can use to quickly find great science experiments, if you are parent and need something to help kickstart your program:

Science Experiments Link 1

Scientific Experiments Link 2

Scientific Experiments Link 3

Scientific Experiments Link 4

Who invented the lightbulb?

Who Invented the Lightbulb? Let's find out...
Edison's incandescent lamp lit the world, but did he really invent it? (Copyright Lee Krystek, 2002.)
It was Thomas Edison in 1879, wasn't it? That's what many people think and were taught in school. Like most stories, however, there is a lot more behind the creation of this important and ubiquitous object than just Mr. Edison..

Ways to earn money Posting Links On Google!

How to make money Posting Links On Google! The Quick Way to Earn More Money Online.

Recently I have been seeing advertisments and links everywhere that proclaim that you can earn money posting links on Google. I also got some personal emails quizzing me whether I understand how to make cash by posting links in Google.

How to make money on Google

How to make money on Google.
The primary way to make money using Google, is through two key methods.

1. Create content and using keywords, create traffic to your site.

2. Create links to you site, whether it be a blog or website in hopes that someone will then click to a "sponsored link".

I did create this blog a few years ago, and keep seeing ads that say it is possible. At this point, I am now not sure what to believe. I want to see if this first post will drive people to the site, and then hope for the best.

I plan to do a little more research on the subject and will get back to you all to see if my Adwords account grew overnight as many of the websites said it will.  Update: I am definitely getting traffic to come to the site. I also found this free link on how to make money by posting articles and monetizing them.

If you are new to internet marketing - take a look at this tool - it will save you a lot of time in learning.

Micro Niche Finder

Micro Niche Finder Review

Here is a great tool that I found to help you find and create your ideal money generating niche. It basically does many things you would have to do manually, and automates them.

For example, it rapidly allows you to find profitable niches based on a keyword searches. You first enter in your keyword, then the tool starts to go to work. You can identify the keywords with the most opportunity, then start to narrow it down from there. 

After you have started to narrow it down, you can also size up the competition, determine which domain names are available, all with a click of a few buttons. Once you have the niche, competition strength, and domain availability identified, you can click on more important factor - which determines the commercial viability of the combinations. This is the factor that helps you monitize the niche, because a high score in this factor indicates customers willing to buy.

Check the tool out - it is worth it and there is some free content that helps you learn and understand this powerful tool.

Micro Niche Finder

Internet Marketing - Josh Spaulding Website

Anyone interested in niche marketing or internet marketing should check out what Josh Spaulding has published. I found his site a few months back and have been learning a lot about internet marketing. For example:

-He shows how to find a niche
-He gives free information about creating mini-niche information sites
-He writes extensively about how he did it

There are a lot of sites out there, but his is one of the best for ethical marketing on the internet.

His site link is below:  Josh Spauldings Website

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Great language learning article from Tim Ferriss - 4 hour workweek

For those of us trying to learn a language, Tim Ferriss, of four hour work week has some interesting information and observations. I am in the midst of learning Spanish and thought the information was quite helpful.

Link below:

Tim Ferris

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gustave Eiffel - Engineer with an artistic flair

Remember the Eiffel Tower - well I have visited it many times. It is a marvel of engineering and a testament to someone with determination and flair. Gustave was a designer and artist, surprisingly, he was also not a workaholic. Cheers to those who possess a balance between work and life.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Interview with John Sculley on Steve Jobs

Here’s a full transcript of the interview with John Sculley on the subject of Steve Jobs.
It’s long but worth reading because there are some awesome insights into how Jobs does things.
It’s also one of the frankest CEO interviews you’ll ever read. Sculley talks openly about Jobs and Apple, admits it was a mistake to hire him to run the company and that he knows little about computers. It’s rare for anyone, never mind a big-time CEO, to make such frank assessment of their career in public.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Allan Pinkerton

This leader really had two things, a keen eye for detail, and hatred of crime. Let's talk about the detail portion for a minute. Even before reading to the end of the article, I found that Mr. Pinkerton had reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. If you have read Sherlock Holmes, you will note that the key to solving the crimes he investigated was approaching the case with no bias, and assuming nothing. He basically took everything in, missing nothing, and through deduction and logic was able to solve the case. Pinkerton was also the same way, and was able to understand people.

Today's leader teaches us about having a keen eye for detail and when observing something, keeping an objective perspective and noticing things others may not keep an eye on.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Percy Spencer - the innovator of the microwave oven and other things

Have you ever heard of Percy Spencer? This is the person who noticed magnetrons generated heat that could be used to cook food. He was standing near a magnetron, when the candy bar in his pocket melted. He then started putting things together and created the first oven, called a Radar Range.

Besides his numerous innovations and inventions, Percy Spencer only had an education until the age of 12. So, what was his secret? Persistence = yes, Innovation = yes, but also curiosity about how things worked. He was basically a self educated man, who through trial and error and reading, created one of the most helpful home appliances in history.

Read on, his story is interesting because he did not get all the "tools" by getting a formal education.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Netflix - Innovation and making it look easy

Netflix is one of the top stocks for 2010. However, I do remember being part of the service way back in 2001 or so. I traveled a lot for work at the time, and thought it would be nice to have movies waiting in the mail for me when I got back. On the plus side, the movies were not due back at any specific time.

Fast forward about 10 years, and look at the changes. There are very few brick and mortar rental places left, and Blockbuster went bankrupt. Recently we obtained a Boxee Box from D-Link and again, this could be another game changer as it almost seems that it could replace the cable box for us.

The founder of Netflix is an interesting guy, he spent time in the peace corps and as a programmer. The most interesting things I think he brings to the table are vision, and innovation. He really was ahead of his time, and I do not think he had this in mind when he founded Netflix. At the time, the value proposition was no late fees and a reasonable price to rent movies.

The only real problem that needs to be overcome now is that Netflix delivers its content over the internet, which is fine until you get about to the last 100 yards to the home. Now, the cable companies want a piece of the action, because Netflix is taking up bandwidth and of course revenue from movie rentals and people having less use for the set top boxes. It should be an interesting battle, hopefully the best technology and innovator wins.

Read though the article, it gives you some good insight into the leadership style and thinking of this key innovator.