Best Buy's latest pricing strategy has come under fire in the tech community, and for good reason. As the Consumerist tells it, the electronics chain has been jacking up the prices of certain laptop models by $20 to $50 over their own regular pricing and then slapping an "As Advertised" sticker on the units in-store. Deceptive? Yeah, just a little. But illegal? Apparently not -- Best Buy isn't marking these as sale items, so it's all good in the hood, even if the company's street cred takes yet another hit.
Citing a dude named Donald, the Consumerist lists out several specific models with inflated price tags, including a Dell laptop (SKU 9693171) now selling for $649.99 instead of $629.99, and an HP notebook (SKU 9705373) advertised for $699.99 instead of $649.99.
So is this a blatant case of Best Buy charging an idiot tax? We're not so sure. A quick glance at Best Buy's online listings for both above mentioned models show the higher price tag, so either Best Buy adjusted its pricing after the media caught wind of what was going on, or the Consumerist is off its rocker. But there's also a third scenario. According to Engadget, Best Buy is bundling 6 months of Ask an Agent and Virus and Spyware Protection into each of the offers. These normally run an extra $20 each, or $40 total, which would explain the higher pricing.
Google's primary creed of "Do No Evil" may give comfort to some, but according the New York Times the US Federal Government may need a bit more convincing. "They are not just on the radar screen. They are at the center of it," said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University and the author of a forthcoming book on technology monopolies, "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires." "If you are in the federal government and are interested in antitrust, you are looking at Google."
Scrutiny of the California based search giant was bound to continue mounting as a result of its success, however recent privacy snafus, including the Wi-Fi sniffing issue have only served to further fuel the flames of mistrust between Google and federal regulators. Google executives acknowledge that being under the spotlight is expected given their rapid growth, but maintain that competition on the Internet is still strong and is a mere click away. This argument has kept regulators at bay until now, but it remains to be seen what action, if any the government is considering.
It may be a long forgotten issue for most, but Federal Judge Denny Chin is expected to rule very soon on the amended book publishing settlement inked with authors which could very well set the tone for any further interventions. Google has a tradition of breaking business models in just about every industry it enters, so it will be interesting to see how long this goes unchallenged.
Do you buy the "competition is one click away" argument, or is Google just becoming too powerful to responsibly organize the worlds data?
Looking through some of the past reader comments, we're well aware that many of you would rather stick bamboo under your fingernails than read about anything related to Apple, but before you put yourself through all that, give this one a chance. You know those 'Get a Mac' commercials that get your blood boiling? Well, you'll never have to watch a new one again.
As Justin Long said was going to happen, Apple has officially canned the long-running ads featuring him and John Hodgman (as the PC guy) squaring off against one another in what seemed like a new skit every week at one point. Not only that, but it appears Apple even pulled the gallery of QuickTime ads from its website.
In its place (and here's where you'll want to stop reading) is a page explaining "Why You'll Love a Mac." If you're curious but just can't get yourself to click the link, Apple's reasons include "Better Hardware," "Better Software," "Better OS," "Better Support," and "It's Compatible."
Advertising, love it or hate it seems to work, but just how much money does it cost to get your point across? The exact marketing budget of the big tech companies has typically been difficult to track down, but the folks over at Businessinsider.com claim to have the inside scoop. Based on numbers collected from Kantar Media we now know what each company spent in 2009 across all advertising mediums, and some of the results might just surprise you.
Ebay for example had a pretty modest budget in 2009 of only 89 million, but had the highest percentage by far when compared to the amount of revenue they generate. This either means that the ads aren't working, or the business itself is on the decline. Not surprisingly Apple seems to get excellent mileage with an ad budget of only $249 million, a number that pails in comparison to the whopping $518 million spent by Microsoft.
The rest of the results are pretty straightforward except for Google, who only spent approximately 11 million in 2009 on traditional advertising. That number might sound a bit low, but when you consider that almost all online ads are served by the search giant anyway, what's the point of rolling a TV commercial right?
It would seem that Jerry Seinfeld was no match for Justin Long when it came to ad spending efficiency, but even the most hardcore PC enthusiast can usually agree that the Microsoft's ad agency should probably be sacked.
Twitter's challenge has never been about finding users. According to comScore, the microblogging service had 22.3 million unique visitors in March, an increase of 524,000 from one year ago. And that doesn't even include the millions of users who access Twitter from third-party smartphone and Web applications.
The challenge, then, has been about turning those usage numbers into revenue. Twitter has so far relied on cash infusions from investors and some deals to license its stream of posts to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, but that's about to change. Twitter this week unveiled an advertising platform called Promoted Tweets, finally answering the question of how Twitter plans to turn a profit.
The way it works is users will see these Promoted Tweets when searching for keywords that advertisers have purchased to link to their ads. A handful of companies are already on board with this, including Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks, and Bravo.
"The idea behind Promoted Tweets is that we want to enhance the communications that companies are already having with customers on Twitter," said Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief operating officer.
These ads will appear at the top of the search results, even if it was written much earlier, and in small type. Roll over the message and the post will turn yellow. Companies will also be able to enter the conversation should things take a turn for the worse. For example, a movie studio could link to positive reviews if a flick is getting a negative reaction on Twitter.
The war between Macs and PCs (as in, Windows-based) is far from over, but the battle tactics might be shifting, at least on Apple's end. According to an interview with Justin Long, the actor who portrays a Mac in the "Get a Mac" ads, Apple might be ending the famed advertising campaign.
"You know, I think they might be done," Long told the Onion's A.V. Club. "In fact, I heard from John [Hodgman], I think they're going to move on -- I can't say definitively -- which is sad, because not only am I going to miss doing them, but also working with John. I've become very close with him, and he's one of my dearest, greatest friends. It was so much fun to go do that job, because there's not a lot to it for me. A lot of it is just keeping myself entertained between takes, and there's no one I'd rather do it with than John."
It should be noted that Apple hasn't made any official statement regarding an ad campaign that first started back in 2006, so it's entirely possible that more "Get a Mac" ads are in the pipeline. But if they are finished, the question is, will they be missed?
The FTC appears to be preparing to officially challenge Google's acquisition of AdMob on anti-trust grounds. Google has long insisted that the deal will not hinder competition. Sources say the FTC has asked AdMob's competitors to testify about the possible effect on the mobile advertizing industry should the deal go through.
Google announced the deal in November of last year, and the FTC took immediate interest. The Big G stated in December that the FTC was investigating the matter. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Google said, " Mobile-app advertising is less than two years old; there are more than a dozen mobile-ad networks." Google may have reason to worry as Apple is rumored to be gearing up for an entry inot the mobile ad space.
Google is still framing the situation with the FTC as a discussion, and not an adversarial legal battle. They are treading lightly hoping to get the deal approved, but all signs point to problems. Do you think the FTC has reason to fear a Google/AdMob deal?
Not a thing wrong with making some money. Right? Well, that's the great contradiction in both the open-source and freeware worlds. Everyone loves software that performs a unique task (or replicates the unique tasks of paid-for applications), but the second an aspiring developer attempts to tack a moneymaking scheme to an otherwise free program, said developer might as well call up the fire department and Internet police--there are going to be torches, pitchforks, and angry blog posts knocking on the front door within short order.
It's almost too easy to blame the developer. And for good reason: There's a definitive lack of add-ons, advertisements, and other such cash-generating schemes that actually deliver a valuable service to the user. But, to be fair, users share the fault--if you don't want to read the instructions, you only have yourself to blame for the various toolbars that have been installed on your machine as a result of your super-fast clicking on the "next" button in any given app's installer.
So what do we do? Is it fair of the open-source and freeware world to scorn any developer that tries to make a quick buck? Is it similarly fair for developers to pack their software to the gills with crapware in the hopes that you forget to uncheck a box or two whilst installing? How do we merge the capitalistic ideals of making money with the altruistic aspirations of consumer freeware and open-source development?
In this week's edition of Extreme Tech Makeover, Hewlett Packard will spend $40 million overhauling its image. Helping them do that is rapper Dr. Dre, who will appear in one of the new ad spots.
"Most people think we are just a printer company," says Michael Mendenhall, HP's chief marketing officer. "Awareness of what we do has not kept pace with [our] expansion."
That expansion includes scooping up companies like Electronic Data Systems and 3Com, and to help push the message that HP is a multi-talented company, the $40 million "Let's Do Amazing" ad campaign will feature several different celebrities. In the one starring Dr. Dre, the rapper talks about how HP rebuilt his PC to make his music sound better. Ad spots like this will help give the company what it lacks, which is "a real differentiation in personality and distinction."
Look for the commercials during high-traffic broadcasts, including the NCAA March Madness championship and series finales of shows like "24."
Get ready to kiss your privacy goodbye. Those horrifying billboards from Minority Report that know everything about you are one step closer to reality. Japan’s NEC has created the Next Generation Digital Signage Solution, a system that tailors ads based on who is looking at it.
This new system isn’t going so far as scanning your iris to look you up in a huge advertising database like in the movie, but it is guessing what you might like based on age and gender. The billboards will be able to determine gender and age to within 10 years by snapping a photo. Some are already crying foul, claiming the signs would be an invasion of privacy. NEC claims the ads would be anonymous and the digital imaging system would delete the images of people used to build the ads.
Do you think this is an acceptable system? It could mean you’d see ads that are more relevant to you, but does anyone really care about that? If this scares you, then start putting together a disguise now. NEC says several companies are interested in the signs, and they might make it stateside in late 2010.