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Tag: competition

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At Issue } essential reading

Think Like The Competition

Laura Patterson
Feb 15, 2013

A focus on customer insights is a good thing -- but when marketing organizations fail to anticipate competitors’ moves that affect customers, all the insights may be for naught? When was the last time you and your team took time to consider how your rivals operate, or might operate based on changes that you make?

College Branding: The Tipping Point

Roger Dooley
Feb 5, 2013

Somehow, almost all of these institutions have continued to attract enough students to stay in business year after year. That’s about to change, and one of the key differences in who survives won’t be the academic output of the faculty or the amenities available to students. It will be a factor seemingly unrelated to the schools’ mission: branding.

Service connects empty returning taxis with passengers needing a ride

Jun 12, 2012

It’s a fact of life in the taxi business that cabs must often return back to base empty after dropping off a customer — particularly when that drop-off was at an airport. That return drive is essentially a wasted trip, but UK-based TaxiBack aims to change that. Specifically, the startup offers a service which connects passengers with cabs that would otherwise be returning empty and enables them to reserve rides at reduced rates.

The Gap Logo Debacle: A Half-Brained Mistake

Umair Haque
Oct 11, 2010

Here's a thought: 21st century organizations need not just half a brain — but a whole, full, complete brain, where both halves work in unison and harmony. Let me explain, by way of an example. It hurts your eyes to look at it. It's making designers world-wide recoil in amazement and horror. The latest installment of Aliens vs Predator? Nope — it's the Gap's new logo.

Nike vs. Skechers: How To Battle a Brand Titan

Grant McCracken
Oct 1, 2010

What does the Marketing 101 tell us about fighting titantic brands? We have several options.

Ebooks Don’t Cannibalize Print, People Do

Evan Schnittman
Sep 28, 2010

Ebooks aren’t a better value, ebooks aren’t more attractive nor are they a threat to the print version of any immersive reading book. This isn’t the same as paperback versions vs hardcover – where the platform and convenience are the same – the timing and pricing are the key ingredients. Books that aren’t in ebook form are do not exist to ebook reading consumers. There is no cannibalization if in the mind of the buyer if there is no version available to them.

Shifting Online, Netflix Faces New Competition

Sep 27, 2010

Even though Netflix’s arch rival Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy protection, the victory lap will have to wait. The company that filled American mailboxes with red envelopes containing DVDs is already fighting the next war. Netflix’s competition with Blockbuster is an artifact of another age — the DVD era. The main battlefront has shifted online, where consumers are streaming movies and television. Netflix faces a number of well-financed and innovative companies like Apple, Amazon and Google, as well as the cable TV providers. This time the war will not be won by the company that perfects the logistics of moving DVDs, but by whoever can best negotiate with Hollywood studios.


Sep 9, 2010

One of the Internet's greatest success stories in 2010 can be found in a former potato chip factory on Vermont Street in Potrero Hill. This is the original office of Zynga, the S.F.-based creator of online "social" games — FarmVille, a simple application in which participants plant and harvest crops, is the company's best-known product — that in three years has gone from scrappy startup to the toast of Silicon Valley. Since launching its first Internet game in 2007, Zynga has grown rapidly. The company's true earnings are unknown to outsiders, but industry observers estimate that its annual revenue could now be $500 million or more. In May, social-media analyst Lou Kerner estimated Zynga's total price tag at $4 billion, based on corporate filings for a stock issuance. In light of Zynga's phenomenal rise, one former senior employee recalls arriving at the company eager to discover what new business practices were driving its success in a market where other popular Web 2.0 ventures struggled to make money. What was Zynga's secret?

An Epidemic of Losers

Sep 2, 2010

The content creation business is thriving these days, especially now that the Conventional Wisdom has all but freed it from having any direct connection or relevance to actually selling anything. Instead, one of the new deliverables of today's marketing is often a contest of some sort, which I think is even worse than not saying anything meaningful about a brand.

Facebook’s Latest Patent Targets Search Behaviors

Sep 1, 2010

Serving up search results based on what your friends clicked: It’s been a hot topic lately, and one that Facebook has seen fit to claim as its own. The social networking goliath has just won a patent covering a certain type of search algorithm, one that is largely based on the interests and clicks of a user’s friends and friends-of-friends.

Delivery is Key to Keeping Viewers Connected

Aug 31, 2010

In the age of connected TV, “don’t touch that dial!” has become “don’t change that input!”. Whereas broadcasters were once concerned over viewers changing channels during ad breaks, they are now worried that the public will desert regular television altogether for internet-based content. About a quarter of TVs sold in the US this year will be able to connect to the internet and bypass regular programming, according to research by Parks Associates, while WiFi and Ethernet connections are becoming standard on set-top boxes.

Google Sees Facebook Threat in String of Deals

Irina Slutsky
Aug 26, 2010

Google products are efficient, slick and -- as the coders say -- elegant. They get you from point A to point B fast. Really fast. But are they fun? That's the question for the search engine as it struggles to gain a foothold in the fast-growing and here-to-stay social web. That web isn't marked by speed and elegance but rather by pit stops and side roads that allow people to pull over, meet new or old friends, play a game and buy souvenirs. In short, have fun.

Preempting Search

Aug 24, 2010

Outside of a tectonic shift in search results/quality – think how offering 100x more email storage encouraged people to switch webmail companies back in 2004 — people are not going to ditch Google as their primary search engine. And Google isn’t taking any chances – by paying Dell $1B for their search toolbar to be pre-installed on new Dell PCs, or pushing Android (who’s the default search engine?), they are doing their part to make current habits continue and lock down their whole “supply chain.” For Google’s enemies, the best way of hurting the search goliath is not to build a better search engine, but rather to give people a reason to stop searching for a wide class of goods and services by preempting search on Google.

Google Develops a Facebook Rival

Amir Efrati
Jul 28, 2010

Google Inc. is in talks with several makers of popular online games as it seeks to develop a broader social-networking service that could compete with Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Ask.com to Relaunch as Expert Q&A Service

Jul 27, 2010

Ask.com was a major success back in the late '90s, with its excellent (for the time) retrieval of answers and its cute butler logo, Jeeves. But times changed, and in 1998, those Californian nerds at Google began the keyword revolution. No longer were search queries executed in complete sentences, and Ask.com fell by the wayside. It attempted to follow in Google's footsteps but never quite took off in the same way. The company is launching a major new campaign and a total redesign aimed at taking back some of that marketshare from Google.

Pepsi Fires a Salvo to Restart the Cola Wars

Andrew Adam Newman
Jul 19, 2010

Pepsi is engaging in a bit of war re-enactment, remaking a well-known comparative commercial, but with a twist, replacing Coke and Pepsi with the sugarless versions Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. The new spot, by the TBWA/Chiat/Day division of TBWA Worldwide and directed again by Mr. Pytka, uses the same setup, except this time the drivers drink Coke Zero and Pepsi Max, and the song is “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” by War.

Hulu Invites Viewers to Pay For More, and Portable, TV

Jun 30, 2010

Hulu LLC announced a new paid subscription service for watching TV shows on computers, mobile devices and televisions, potentially creating a battle with cable-television operators that are planning similar services. Called Hulu Plus, the offering will initially be available only to invited subscribers for $9.99 a month. The paid service comes on top of the TV episodes that remain free to watch on Hulu.com.

Eager To Start Your Own Agency?

Jun 28, 2010

Then you won't want to miss the “Million-Dollar Challenge.” It’s an open invitation to would-be entrepreneurs to create and launch a marketing communications agency. The winning startup's business plan will receive $1 million from MDC Partners in return for a 51% stake. MDC Partners is the Toronto-based holding company of Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners.

Know Your Competition, And Avoid Customer Break-Ups

Jun 25, 2010

Customers are fickle. Just when you think you’re in a steady relationship … their eyes are drawn to a more attractive suitor. We spend so much of our time time trying to make and keep our customers happy that we may forget others—the competition—are trying to make them happier. Blasted competition!

What’s Next for the Online Experience?

Moira Dorsey & Forrester Research
Jun 25, 2010

New technologies begin by imitating older technologies before evolving to their true forms. For example, early automobiles looked like horseless carriages, and early television shows imitated radio programming before finding their own forms. Online experiences have followed this pattern—getting their start by imitating the printed page. Although many of today’s online experiences have evolved to include more function and interactivity, the “Web page” still dominates our thinking. So the question still remains: what new form will the Web take as it continues to evolve over the next five years? Three types of trends are driving online experiences into their next phase: capabilities, consumers and competition.

World Cup: Nike vs. Adidas Heats Up

Jun 25, 2010

Nike is leveraging the success of its 2010 World Cup Write the Future ambush marketing effort with a campaign extension that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness in partnership with (RED), above. The pro-social message, which stars soccer icon Didier Drogba, is particularly apt in Africa as "ground zero" for the global AIDS crisis. Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer isn't too worried; he expects the brand's official World Cup sponsorship to blow past projections, having already garnered almost $2 billion in sales.

Tesla CEO To investors: We're Like Google Or Apple

Jun 23, 2010

Tesla's Motors' prospects for becoming a 21st-century auto powerhouse have as much to do with its Silicon Valley culture as with its technology, CEO Elon Musk told investors. During a video recording prepared in advance of Tesla's initial public offering, which could come as early as next week, Musk touted the combination of the company's auto industry and Silicon Valley roots as a key competitive advantage.

Ten Reasons Marketers Should Establish Generally Accepted Brand-Valuation Standards

Bob Liodice
Jun 21, 2010

The gap between a company's market capitalization and its hard assets is often immense. Consider Coca-Cola Co. According to its 2009 annual report, Coke's total hard assets were valued at $48.6 billion, whereas its year-end market capitalization was $132.8 billion. The huge difference between these two numbers -- more than $84 billion -- represents the value of the company's intangible assets, largely its brands.

Coke and Pepsi Add Social Fizz

Jun 11, 2010

Coca-Cola and arch-rival Pepsi are very much on the same page these days — and that page is all about social media. As we've noted, Pepsi has been tapping consumers for ideas via such social engagement programs as DEWmocracy and the Pepsi Refresh Project. Pepsi Loot is its latest social and digital experiment, this time with a Foursquare-powered app to lure music fans with free songs in exchange for checking into establishments that serve Pepsi. PepsiCo's SVP and chief engagement officer, Frank Cooper, feels a company can truly innovate when it decides to "harness the power of your consumer base and allow them to lead in brand decision making." That's where Coke is headed as well.

Apple's Jobs Pushes iPhone Parity Out of Rivals' Reach

Jun 8, 2010

Apple has elevated the iPhone brand again and forestalled rivals’ ability to claim parity. Leading up to the launch of the iPhone 4, run by the iOS since it powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, there were whispers everywhere about the Android’s turbo-charged innovation cycle, the end of iPhone envy and how other smartphones from the likes of HTC were closing the gap. Now it wasn’t like the iPhone was becoming a commodity device, but you could see some parity on the horizon. Even Sam Diaz got over his iPhone envy. Enter Apple CEO Steve Jobs who was having none of that talk. Jobs talked about the mix between technology and liberal arts. The emphasis is on technology as an art form.

Dr Pepper's Deal With Coke: Not Enough Pop?

Jun 8, 2010

Expect executives at Dr Pepper Snapple Group to be bubbly today when touting the benefits of a $700 million-plus deal with rival Coke even though it has less fizz than some investors were expecting. The Plano-based maker of Dr Pepper, 7Up and Motts juices, among other products, said Monday it will reap a $715 million payday for allowing the Coca-Cola Co. to distribute some of Dr Pepper's soft drinks in the U.S. and Canada.

Dangers Lie in Reaching the Top, Even for Apple

Jun 7, 2010

But how far can this joyride go? The seeds of sometimes-fatal mistakes are sown when a company is at its peak: Expectations become unrealistic. Management loses focus. A new competitor finds a cheaper way to do what you're doing. Regulators start asking if you've grown too powerful. And all the while, you're too busy enjoying your success to recognize the dangers.

Brand Owners Must Respond To "Megatrends"

Jun 4, 2010

Brand owners looking to drive long-term growth must respond to a range of "megatrends" from the explosion of digital media to the rise of competitors in emerging markets, a study has argued. The Boston Consulting Group has been tracking 78 "megatrends" since 2005, and argued the firms that react most effectively to these shifts will be best placed to increase sales going forward.

Android Emerges As Big Rival To iPad

May 28, 2010

In the high-stakes race to catch Apple Inc.'s hit iPad, the Android operating system that Google Inc. popularized in cellphones is emerging as an early front-runner. Tablet-style computers—a moribund hardware category until the iPad started generating buzz earlier this year—are expected to be a big topic at next week's Computex trade show, a major forum for product announcements by manufacturers of personal computers.

Bezos Boasts of Kindle's Edge With Serious Readers

May 26, 2010

f the new Apple iPad is for multitaskers, then Amazon.com's Kindle is for die-hard readers, and that's OK with Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. Speaking at Amazon's annual shareholder meeting Tuesday in downtown Seattle, Bezos acknowledged nine out of 10 households don't necessarily do a lot of serious reading. Still, he said the Kindle can compete with the iPad by focusing on die-hard readers, just as heavy-duty cameras remain relevant despite the spread of camera phones.

Retailers Boost Use Of Online Vids

May 26, 2010

Retailers are responding to the growing appetite for online videos by adding them to their Web sites to both differentiate themselves from competitors as well as to keep up with what consumers expect from their online shopping experience.

Intel Expands College-Level Competition

May 25, 2010

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced on Tuesday expanded initiatives to spur entrepreneurship and education. Speaking at the World Congress on IT in Amsterdam, Otellini said the annual Intel Challenge will spread beyond its previous arenas in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America to include France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The Intel Challenge is a competition that awards seed money to college students who create the most innovative and effective business plans. The criteria includes creating a positive effect on society and a positive return on investment by tapping into fields such as semiconductors, nanotechnology, mobile and wireless, and life sciences.

Six Strategies For Successful Niche Marketing

Eric K. Clemons, Paul F. Nunes and Matt Reilly
May 24, 2010

There's been a lot of buzz about the long-tail phenomenon—the strategy of selling smaller quantities of a wider range of goods that are designed to resonate with consumers' preferences and earn higher margins. And a quick scan of everyday products seems to confirm the long tail's merit: Where once we wore jeans from Levi, Wrangler or Lee, we now have scores of options from design houses. If you're looking for a nutrition bar, there's one exactly right for you, whether you're a triathlete, a dieter or a weight lifter. Hundreds of brewers offer thousands of craft beers suited to every conceivable taste. It's not surprising that so many companies have embraced this strategy. It allows them to avoid the intense competition found in mass markets. Look at the sales growth that has taken place in low-volume, high-margin products such as super-premium ice cream, noncarbonated beverages, heritage meats and heirloom vegetables. But the case for the long tail has frequently been overstated. This strategy can be expensive to implement, and it doesn't work for all products or all categories.

Rethink Your Business

May 18, 2010

Pam Kufahl, CI’s editor, and I spoke after Malcolm Gladwell delivered the keynote at the recent IHRSA convention and trade show. Gladwell had called for a revolution in the fitness industry through a “re-branding” of exercise. In order to reach the 84% of the adult U.S. population which does not belong to a fitness facility, Gladwell argued, exercise must be made relevant and exciting to them. As I thought about the point, it became clear to me the fitness club industry needed more than simply a new label or marketing program. Fitness club operators must think differently about their business. They must come up with new and different answers to some fundamental questions.

How Many Buying Cycles Do You Have Left?

May 17, 2010

On May 4, General Motors made the first move I have seen that gives me any hope whatsoever that the company might be heading in the right direction. It hired Joel Ewanick, former CMO of Hyundai, to oversee GM marketing as well as the marketing of all GM brands, including Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. Finally, a decision from Detroit that makes sense ... hiring a decision maker. On Mr. Ewanick's watch, the game-changing and highly successful Hyundai Assurance Plan was created and launched in just 37 days. Ewanick oversaw the launch of the Hyundai Genesis, a Korean luxury sedan that will have as much or more effect on the luxury sedan market than Lexus did 20 years ago, and he introduced the new Sonata, sales of which immediately increased 50% year on year. So what has this got to do with a column about marketing to boomers? Well, to my way of thinking, Mr. Ewanick's Hyundai advertising is the only (yes, I said only) automotive advertising in the U.S. today that truly appeals to the boomer consumer.

Adobe Fights Apple With Pro-Flash Ad Campaign

May 13, 2010

Adobe Systems may not have a chief executive with Steve Jobs' high profile, but it does have money. And on Thursday it began spending some of it on an effort to rebut the Apple CEO's crticisims of Adobe's Flash technology. The campaign includes a Web site promoting choice, an accompanying "truth about Flash" page rebutting some Apple criticisms, and a letter from Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock that brings a personal answer to Jobs. They don't mention Jobs or or Apple by name, but there's no mistaking the target.

GM Has Car People Try Out The Products

May 13, 2010

Nobody ever designed a great car in a conference room, but GM's leaders behaved as if they could for a generation. A bunch of us realized we need to have the true car people looking at our cars and the competition to see what we have to do to beat them," GM North America President Mark Reuss said Wednesday. Having eight to 10 of the company's top engineers and executives spend several hours a week actually driving GM's future vehicles and their competition was unthinkable at pre-bankruptcy GM.

RIM's Strategy to Stay on Top in Smartphones

Marguerite Reardon
May 12, 2010

For Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, staying No. 1 isn't about apps or fancy hardware, it's about cost effectiveness. For all the hoopla surrounding Apple's iPhone and the various Android smartphones that have hit the market recently, many forget what is still, by a healthy margin tops in the market: RIM's modest BlackBerry. And RIM intends to stay on top by doing what it does best: offering something that's more affordable and can operate on wireless networks more efficiently than its flashier competition.

Sustainability Faceoff: Verizon vs. Sprint

May 11, 2010

There are some practical concerns in the battle between Sprint and Verizon--phone selection, for example, makes a big difference. But there are also a number of sustainability concerns to take into account, as explained in The HIP Investor, by R. Paul Herman. Sprint has received significantly more attention for its sustainability initiatives, mostly because they have been flashier. The Samsung Reclaim, for example, was Sprint's first "green" phone, featuring recycled plastic, soy-based ink in its user manual, and a box made out of recycled paper. A successor to the Reclaim, dubbed the Restore, will be released this summer. But green phones like the Reclaim and the Restore are little more than gimmicks until they become more desirable than heavy hitters like the Droid and iPhone.

Nokia to Reorganize...Again

May 11, 2010

Hit by a tough market and rough competition, Nokia is hoping that yet another reorganization will shake up the status quo. The Finnish handset maker announced Tuesday that it will reorganize itself into what it calls a "simplified company structure." To better distinguish its various mobile phones and services, Nokia will revamp its business units into three separate entities--Mobile Solutions, Mobile Phones, and Markets. The new Mobile Solutions unit will handle Nokia's high-end mobile computer and smartphone products, which run under the Symbian and new MeeGo operating systems. The revamped Mobile Phones unit will turn its attention to Nokia's more affordable mobile phones, concentrating on devices that run under the Series 40 OS.

Newsweek's Decline and Why Companies Need Rivals

May 7, 2010

A few years ago, there was a persistent debate going on in the halls of Newsweek magazine. For decades Newsweek, with 3.2 million readers, had been the number-two newsmagazine in a three-player field: Time had about a million more subscribers, while U.S. News & World Reports lagged with about a million fewer. U.S. News had been losing money for years, and even before the Great Recession hit, it seemed vulnerable. Inside Newsweek, where I was a reporter, some of us wondered: Would it be good or bad for Newsweek if U.S. News disappeared?

Yahoo’s New Ad Disses Google, Glorifies The Web Portal of Old

May 6, 2010

Yahoo launched a new $85 million ad campaign, aiming to promote Yahoo as the single destination for all your online needs. Their slogan: “Your favorite stuff all in one place. Make Yahoo your home page.” Their first target: Google.

Apple Draws Scrutiny From Regulators

Thomas Catan and Yukari Iwatani Kane
May 4, 2010

U.S. antitrust enforcers are taking a keen interest in recent changes that Apple Inc. made to its licensing agreement with iPhone application developers and are likely to open a preliminary investigation into whether the company's actions stifle competition in mobile devices, according to people familiar with the situation. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, which are jointly tasked with enforcing federal antitrust laws, are holding discussions over which agency would hold the inquiry, these people said. Apple, the FTC and Justice Department all declined to comment.

At The 2010 World Cup, Nike Wants To Take The Shirt Off Of Adidas' Back

May 1, 2010

Not all of the competition at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa will be about which country and player puts the ball into the net most often. Adidas has been an official supplier and licensee of the FIFA World Cup tournaments since 1970, and its current deal runs through 2014 with the event in Brazil. During the event, it will outfit 17 national teams including host South Africa and defending champion Italy. It will have the official FIFA World Cup ball in every match. Adidas signage and marketing will cover the month-long tournament. So what! says rival Nike.

Starbucks Gives Frappuccino New Life for Hot Summer Sales

Apr 27, 2010

Starbucks (SBUX) is on a mission to turn its Frappuccino into much more than a pricey drink. Hit by the recession and increased competition from Dunkin' Donuts and smoothie chains, sales of the Frappuccino brand have slid the past few years. Executives won't say how steep the slide has been for the blended ice drink that became a $2 billion juggernaut for Starbucks. But any decline is seen as serious for the 15-year-old beverage that accounts for an estimated 15% to 20% of sales at Starbucks stores.

McDonald's Dillon Splits Up Advertising to Make Shops Say 'I'm Lovin' It'

Emily Bryson York
Apr 26, 2010

What's it take to get cut-throat agency competitors to play nice? A $2 billion global budget doesn't hurt. It's at least one reason McDonald's can get its agencies to collaborate on strategy and major messaging before releasing them to develop their own spins. But McDonald's doesn't pit them against each other in winner-take-all shoot-outs; rather, it asks clients for their best work and often goes with multiple agencies contributing to the campaign, as it did with the recent "I'm Lovin' It" update. The company sees that collaboration as crucial to its advertising success.

AT&T Adds Fewer Contract Customers

Apr 21, 2010

AT&T added fewer contract customers during the first quarter, a sign that competition is heating up for new subscribers in the crowded wireless market. The trend also calls into question where AT&T and other wireless subscribers will find growth in the future. The company, which released the information as part of its first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday, also took a significant hit to due to health care reform.

A Better Way To Serve Your Existing Customers

Apr 20, 2010

When people want to transfer money safely and directly to one another in the Europe, they go through their banks. But in the United States, they're more likely to use PayPal. This is good news for eBay, which phased out a competing payment system and bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. eBay's revenues were up 16% in the last quarter of 2009, in good measure due to PayPal, which PC Magazine reports processed $20 billion worth of transactions for 81 million customers in that quarter alone. But it's bad news for U.S. banks, which it might be argued, should have been reaping the benefits eBay is now enjoying.

How To Use Social Media Monitoring Tools To Aid Product Development

Apr 20, 2010

To many, the process of developing a successful product can be a mystery. Sometimes companies will spend months of development time to create a product that doesn’t reflect the needs or the scope of its intended market. And other times, successful products are developed completely on accident. Because of this, it can often seem impossible to develop successful products. However, if one takes the time to listen to their marketplace and plan the development process accordingly, they are more likely to succeed.

Guinness Black Lager: Another Bizzare Brand Extension

Apr 20, 2010

Guinness' brand strength it that it is associated with a single, core product. This is the case with most great beer brands around the world. The challenge for the brand's owner, Diegeo, is that a lot of young blokes (and some older ones like me) just don't like the product. Its dark, black, bitter and has a highly distinctive creamy head. Almost food-like Some people love it. Others hate it.

Twitter Loses Its Scrappy Start-Up Status

Claire Cain Miller
Apr 16, 2010

Twitter’s first developer conference, held this week in San Francisco, served as a coming-out party for the four-year-old service. Twitter the start-up is becoming Twitter the big company, with more polish, controversy, competition and revenue.

The Case for Being Disruptively Good

Umair Haque
Apr 12, 2010

It's the trillion dollar question. Justin Fox, in a recent post here, put it this way: "I don't think anyone has come up with an argument for or description of better business behavior that has anything like the elegance and power of the economists' 'incentives matter.' As long as it remains possible to get rich via less-than-upstanding behavior, and enjoy those riches, a lot of people in business will choose that path." I call it the egocentric question: "Why is doing good in our self-interest?"

Fighter Brand Strategy: Cure For Low-priced Competition?

Apr 12, 2010

When Jill Little, merchandise and marketing director at John Lewis, recently announced that the retailer was to introduce a value range, it was widely seen as a smart move. The homeware products line has been specifically designed to help John Lewis defend its 'Never knowingly undersold' slogan against supermarkets that have moved into its territory. At the launch, Little said the value range would be 'benchmarked' continually against Tesco's own-brand products to ensure it remained competitive.

Mac vs. PC Ads Finished? Justin Long "Can't Say Definitively" (But It's About Time)

Apr 8, 2010

Justin Long, the floppy-fringed star of the Mac v. PC ads, revealed that he heard it from a good source (er, a PC, actually) that the sweet-natured, yet passive-combative ad campaign run by Apple is coming to an end. In an interview with The A.V. Club, he remarked, "I think they might be done. In fact, I heard it from John [Hodgman,] I think they're going to move on. I can't say definitively, which is sad."

The Considered Purchase: Core Conversion Marketing Strategies

Brian Massey
Apr 7, 2010

The Considered Purchase Pattern is a powerful model for a business-to-business website because so many businesses have flaccidly chosen to build their site on the brochure pattern. With the strategies outlined here, you will generate new leads and sales at a fraction of the cost of your competitors. Get these strategies right, and you have the opportunity to dominate your competitors on the Web.

Court Strikes at 'Net Neutrality'

Amy Schatz and Brent Kendall
Apr 6, 2010

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority when it sanctioned Comcast Corp. in 2008 for deliberately slowing Internet traffic for some users. The unanimous decision is a blow to the FCC, which argued it had authority to police Internet providers and prevent them from blocking or slowing subscribers' Internet traffic. The victory is likely to spark efforts by the FCC and Congress to impose new rules on Comcast and other Internet providers. Major Internet providers will likely oppose such moves, particularly any effort by the FCC to apply rules to their Web services that were originally enacted to promote more competition in the land-line phone industry.

Pushing Infographics Too Far? The Ford Fusion Competition

Apr 5, 2010

The concept of visualization as a medium is great, but how far can information graphics be pushed until it falls off the cliff? The Fusion 41 Competition [fusion41.com] is a recent example of the world of advertising focusing on the visual attraction of data visualization. The competition "amassed a wealth of raw data generated from all of the teams and activities", which were then "brought to life" in poster-size infographics.

For Amazon, Arrival of the iPad Opens Door to More e-Book Sales

Apr 2, 2010

Electronic books are expected to be a major selling point for Apple Inc.'s iPad, which goes on sale Saturday. But competitors, particularly Amazon.com Inc., could end up as major e-book providers for the new device. One reason is that Apple won't start with the same leg up over competing content providers that it has had with the iPhone and its iPod media players, which have built-in connections to the company's iTunes music and video store.

Why Apple Won't Be Launching a Search Engine Any Time Soon

Mar 22, 2010

It's hard to believe that a year ago, Google and Apple were still best friends. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board. Plenty of Google employees proudly showed off their iPhones. All seemed fine as the two companies took on their common enemy, Microsoft.

Wall Street Journal Aims to Win Over The New York Times’s Local Audience

Mar 22, 2010

Maybe newspapers really are dying, as some media analysts have been predicting for decades, but apparently that does not apply to newspaper wars. A doozy is shaping up at the moment between The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Sony's PlayStation Move Ad Snarks on Microsoft's Project Natal, Ignores Nintendo Wii

Mar 19, 2010

All three current-gen videogame console makers have staked their futures on motion sensing. Nintendo famously did it first with the Wii, a ballsy, forward-looking move that many believed would lead to the downfall of the venerable company--but instead it won them this generation, racking up incredible sales and proving the naysayers totally and embarrassingly wrong.

Stuck-in-middle Walmart Starts to Lose Share

Jack Neff
Mar 9, 2010

Recessionary darling Walmart saw the first down sales quarter in its history and a surprisingly weak top-line over the holidays as aggressively expanding dollar stores and hard discounters swiped at its positioning. Additionally, last year it lost modest market share in package-goods sales for the first time since Information Resources Inc. began tracking the data -- while supermarkets, dollar and club stores all gained. In short, Walmart is increasingly finding itself caught in the middle between higher-end retailers and value players and, at least in recent quarters, is losing share to both.

Hint Thirsts For A Bigger Audience

Mar 9, 2010

Kara Goldin was pregnant when she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2004. The first thing she cut out of her diet was sugary drinks. Her blood sugar problems improved, but Goldin still craved flavored beverages. She tried to find an all-natural, sugar-free drink that tasted good, but she struck out. Her solution? Goldin, a former vice president at AOL, created a beverage that became Hint, the brand and the company.

New Sony Gadgets Take Aim at Apple

Mar 5, 2010

Threatened by Apple Inc.'s growing stable of portable devices, Sony Corp. is developing a new lineup of handheld products, including a smart phone capable of downloading and playing videogames, according to people familiar with the matter. The Japanese electronics giant also is developing a portable device that shares characteristics of netbooks, electronic-book readers and handheld-game machines. The device is designed to compete against multifunction products such as Apple's coming iPad tablet, these people said.

Feeling Heat From Ford, GM Reshuffles Managers

Sharon Terlep and Neal E. Boudette
Mar 3, 2010

Ford Motor Co. surpassed General Motors Co. in sales last month for the first time in at least 50 years, presenting a new headache for the government-owned car maker as it struggles to return to profitability. Hours after the sales results were disclosed Tuesday, GM announced an overhaul of its top managers—the second executive shuffle in three months. The news underscored the impatience of GM Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. and the heat the company is feeling from a resurgent Ford.

Nokia CEO Stung By IPhone Aims To Outdo Jobs With Apps And Maps

Feb 25, 2010

Sitting in a meeting room that looks out on a frozen Baltic bay, Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo mentions a biography he’s reading. It’s about Mauno Koivisto, the president who butted heads with his own Social Democratic Party en route to opening Finland’s 1992 bid to join the European Union.

Audi's Competitive Advertising Jabs BMW, Stings Toyota

Feb 25, 2010

When a brand goes directly after its competition in an ad, there's always a price to pay. A poorly executed competitive ad makes the advertiser look boorish; a well-executed one puts the competitor on the defensive. Audi's latest jab at BMW appears to be the latter: The ad is classy and humorous, yet gets the point across. It depicts winning and losing moments (for example, a father who beats his son in a toy car race) with the voice-over: "In every friendly little competition, there's a winner... and a loser." Audi closes with the fact that it beat BMW in three straight Car and Driver comparisons.

'Good' Beats 'Innovative' Nearly Every Time

Scott Berkun
Feb 23, 2010

One troubling recent phenomenon is the push for everyone to be innovators. I suspect more books have been sold with the word innovation in their title in the last 10 years than in the previous 50, including, I confess, one of my own. And while much has changed, it's hard to say the quality of things in the world has improved as fast. Keen-eyed consumers bemoan the low quality of many of the things we buy and try to use. Web sites divide short articles across 25 ad-filled pages. Gadgets quickly run out of power. Smartphones have anemic reception or fragile screens. Many things we buy and use never work in the way we're promised, which suggests there are opportunities in merely being good: Much of what's made falls short of that mark.

How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web

Steven Levy
Feb 23, 2010

Want to know how Google is about to change your life? Stop by the Ouagadougou conference room on a Thursday morning. It is here, at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of the world’s most powerful Internet company, that a room filled with three dozen engineers, product managers, and executives figure out how to make their search engine even smarter. This year, Google will introduce 550 or so improvements to its fabled algorithm, and each will be determined at a gathering just like this one.

App For That: Magazines Forge New Vision Of Digital Future

Feb 22, 2010

Everybody knows digital media's arrival hasn't exactly been easy on magazines. Ad rates on the web couldn't match their levels in print, many magazines struggled to build compelling websites, new competition strove to steal readers' attention, and the web itself engendered an attention-atrophied reading style that undermined readers' very ability to settle down with a good, fat print issue.

Walgreens To Buy Duane Reade For $1.1bn

Feb 17, 2010

Walgreens, the US drugstore chain, is acquiring Duane Reade, the New York retailer whose stores are an omnipresent feature of life in the city. The $1.1bn deal for 275 stores gives the Chicago-based chain the leading position in one of the largest US markets, while strengthening its position in the northeastern region that is the bastion of its national rival CVS Caremark.

Dunkin’ Shoots for Game-Changer

Feb 15, 2010

Dunkin’ Donuts hopes to convince energy drink consumers to get their daily jolts of caffeine from its iced java. A new ad campaign suggests energy drink fans should “kick the can” and drink freshly brewed Dunkin’ iced coffee instead of “mass-produced” energy drinks. The TV commercial depicts two young men watching a hoop game at a gym, one with a Dunkin’ iced coffee and the other with an energy drink in a thin can resembling that of market leader Red Bull. The iced coffee drinker lifts up his cup and says, “This was made just for me.”

Audi Launches Winter Olympic Ads

Feb 15, 2010

After throwing a Hail Mary in the Super Bowl, Audi is going for the two points, with a pair of spots to air during the Winter Olympics' Friday evening opening ceremonies. The new ads, via AOR Venables Bell & Partners, are directly competitive with Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Where Is Your White Space?

Feb 12, 2010

As a metaphor, white space is at once ubiquitous and frustratingly ambiguous. There may be as many definitions circulating as there are business thinkers. Some people define it as a place where there's no competition. Others as an entirely new market. Still others use it, as Tim Armstrong has, to refer to gaps in existing markets or product lines. For all its ambiguity, though, white space is undoubtedly a metaphor about opportunity; different thinkers define it differently because they take varying approaches to capturing opportunity. In that spirit, let me offer up another way to look at white space — a very specific meaning I think would be particularly useful to Tim Armstrong and to any other top executive engaged in strategy formulation.

Facebook And Twitter Compete For Olympic Glory

Feb 11, 2010

Each Olympics brings one or two novel new events. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, which start in Vancouver on Friday, there is Ski Cross, in which four skiers plunge down a mountain at the same time. Then there is an unofficial competition that we’ll call the Social Media Slalom.

What Today's Tech Is Teaching Tomorrow's Workforce

Feb 9, 2010

The technology we call innovative will seem pedestrian to our children. From touch screens to open source, our kids are being conditioned to interact with technology in ways we hardly expected even a decade ago, despite what "The Jetsons" foreshadowed back in the '60s. One thing seems increasingly clear: our children are not being conditioned to buy Microsoft. Not anymore.

Democrats Question Comcast-NBC Universal Deal

Feb 4, 2010

House Democrats challenged executives from the cable television company Comcast and the television network NBC Universal on Thursday to show that Comcast’s plan to take control of the NBC media empire would not hurt consumers and rivals. In a hearing, members of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee expressed concerns that the transaction could lead to a range of competitive harms, including higher cable TV rates and fewer video programming choices.

Kindle Not Ready to Surrender to iPad

Jan 29, 2010

Advocates wary of the Apple device say Amazon.com's e-reader has its new rival beat on battery life, weight, cost and reading experience.

McDonald’s Fourth-Quarter Profit Jumps 23%

Jan 22, 2010

McDonald’s posted strong fourth-quarter results on Friday, aided by currency fluctuations, leading to annual earnings of $4.6bn for 2009, a gain of 6 per cent on its results for 2008. For the quarter, McDonald’s earnings jumped 23 per cent to $1.2bn, up from $985m in the comparable period the year before.

Report: Microsoft And Apple Discuss Making Bing Default Engine On The iPhone

Jan 20, 2010

BusinessWeek is reporting and solidifying what was previously an almost unthinkable rumor: that Bing might become the default search engine on the iPhone (and iPod Touch). The way BusinessWeek frames it this becomes a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Amazon, Scared Of The Apple Tablet, Tweaks Its Kindle Publisher's Cut

Jan 20, 2010

Though everybody believes next week Apple will be revealing an exciting tablet PC, complete with reputed e-reader powers, the event has clearly got Amazon running scared: It's just improved its deal for Kindle publishers, significantly. In a press release to announce the news, Amazon comes directly and efficiently to the point (a slightly unusual step for press releases!) with the words "Amazon.com [announces] a new program that will enable authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell." The company is preserving some of its existing DTP royalty share options, but is adding in a new 70% option--giving 70% of list price (net of delivery costs) to authors or publishers.

Apple iPhone To Drop Google For Bing?

Jan 18, 2010

A BusinessWeek piece named Apple vs. Google discusses much of the recent competitive business products the two companies have. On page three of that article, there are some analysts who suspect Apple may drop Google, as the default search provider, to Bing.

The Germans Are Coming: Volkswagen's Drive To Succeed In America

Jan 16, 2010

For a new CEO, first impressions matter. Early in his tenure as president and chief executive of the Volkswagen Group of America, Stefan Jacoby got an angry letter from a VW dealer in California, declining his invitation to attend Jacoby's first all-hands dealer meeting. Jacoby was about to become the most recent in a long line of Germans bearing promises. " 'I don't want to come to Orlando and hear all these lies,' " he recalls, quoting the note. "I was impressed with the honesty, and to a certain extent, I could really understand it."

Verizon Lowers Wireless Pricing Plans

Jan 15, 2010

Verizon Wireless introduced lower wireless-pricing plans Friday, a move that's likely to force rival AT&T Inc. to follow and could pressure margins on the carriers' high-end business. Verizon Communications, which jointly owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group PLC, slashed pricing on some of its contract plans, dropping its nationwide unlimited voice plan to $69.99 a month from $99 and offering a nationwide unlimited voice-and-text plan for $89.99.

McDonald’s Serves Up Competitive Branding At 2010 Winter Olympics

Jan 14, 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympics offers world-class athletes an intense and competitive environment to showcase their talents. Yet no other participant is preparing more intensely for the games than McDonald’s. That’s right, McDonald’s. The fast food juggernaut has devised a marketing strategy that is as specific and yet as varied as the many competitions being offered at the games next February. McDonald’s is embracing the Winter Olympics in every aspect, and will fill everywhere from host city Vancouver to social networking phenomenon Twitter with its messaging.

Stop Trying To Be Better Than The Competition

Jan 12, 2010

So many business owners or would be start-ups sit around this time of year trying to figure out how they can be better than the competition – better product, better service, better features, and, the real killer, better price. Heck, some even strive to be “best” in class. What they should be doing is figuring out how they can simply be different than the competition.

The 7 Universal Brand-Management Truths

Nitish Gupta
Jan 6, 2010

Coca-Cola today has a market capitalization in excess of $100 billion because the perceived value of its brand is significantly higher than the sum total of all the assets of the company. In my years with Procter & Gamble and Heinz, I have come to realize that no matter what the product or service, the key principles for building a great brand remain the same. By staying true to these seven principles, a marketer can weather economic highs and lows while building an iconic brand for target consumers.

Disney and Rivals Square Up In New Movie Distribution Battle

Jan 6, 2010

Hollywood loves a format war. First VHS saw off Betamax in the great home video battle of the 1980s. More recently, Blu-ray won the right to succeed the DVD when it was preferred by film studios to rival HD-DVD technology. However, as Hollywood looks to the digital era, the industry is split on how to manage the distribution of movies to TVs, computers and hand-held devices, setting the stage for its next great technological tussle. In one corner is Walt Disney and its Keychest product, which it describes as "enabling technology" that allows consumers to buy or rent a film and then view it on any device they choose. In the opposing corner is Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, a coalition of retailers, hardware makers and film companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Netflix and Sony.

Apple To Acquire Mobile Ad Platform Quattro Wireless For $275 Million

Jan 5, 2010

Google made huge waves in the mobile industry when it acquired mobile ad network AdMob for $750 million. Now Apple, which is increasingly in direct competition with Google, has countered its new rival. According to All Things Digital, Apple has entered into an agreement to acquire Quattro Wireless, a mobile ad platform similar to AdMob but smaller in scale. The announcement may come as soon as tomorrow.

Domino's Pizza Recipe Gets A Major Makeover

Dec 17, 2009

Successful food brands often hesitate to mess around with what's working. Maybe they remember one of the most notorious mishaps in branding history: When Coca-Cola introduced the new taste of "New Coke" in 1985, public outcry forced the company to reinstate the original formula. Apparently, Domino's Pizza isn't worried about a similar backlash -- the company is about to change its long-time pizza recipe. The move, says Domino's Chief Marketing Officer, Russell Weiner, reflects "what consumers are looking for. We're not talking about a slightly-altered version of our previous pizza. It's a completely new pizza reinvented from the crust up, and we are proud of it. ... We spent the last 18 months reinventing the brand in anticipation of our 50th anniversary."

Google Phone May Rankle Android Partners

Dec 16, 2009

Marketing its own mobile phone might turn Google into a rival to many companies it now counts as allies in building the Android operating system.

Nokia Comes With Music Package May Be Too Late to Fight IPhone

Dec 16, 2009

Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said this month he’s “really bullish” about the company’s “Comes With Music” package, a phone bundled with unlimited songs. Analysts say it leaves them cold. Services like Comes With Music from Nokia, the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, to take on Apple Inc.’s iPhone are too little too late, said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at Greenwich, Connecticut-based MKM.

World War 3.0: Apple vs Google vs Microsoft

Gary Marshall
Dec 16, 2009

Back in the good old days, Microsoft did desktops, Google stuck to search and Apple made toys for people in polo necks. No more. The superpowers of the technology world are at war, and like real wars, the battle is happening on several fronts. They're fighting on the desktop, they're fighting on mobile phones, they're fighting in the browser and they're fighting in your front room. Who will prevail, and who will end up in a bunker?

How The Droid Took Root All Over the Web

Dec 9, 2009

So is the Droid the iPhone killer? So far, no, but it's off to a very respectable launch thanks to some smart seeding by Verizon. Analysts estimate Verizon sold between 100,000 and 200,000 Droids in its opening weekend; the wireless carrier should sell a total of 765,000 Droids by year-end, according to Avian Securities' forecast. At this pace, Droid, which was released in early November, would slightly trail the performance of the first Blackberry Storm, which sold a million units by the end of January after going on sale just before Thanksgiving last year.

With NBC, Comcast Zeros In On ESPN

Dec 2, 2009

For years, competitors have tried to challenge ESPN. Their efforts failed or never advanced beyond big talk. Comcast’s impending acquisition of NBC Universal will certainly set off an effort to turn Versus into a viable alternative, if not a full-fledged competitor, to ESPN. Under Comcast’s ownership, Versus has transformed from the Outdoor Life Network to OLN, then, in 2006, into its current incarnation.

Sony Retunes $5bn Ad Budget

Nov 18, 2009

Sony is looking to concentrate its nearly $5bn annual advertising firepower on a smaller number of products to “reinvent its marketing”, senior executives at the company said. The company fears it is being outgunned by competitors that spend heavily to promote specific products or categories, such as Apple with the iPod or iPhone, Samsung in televisions, or Canon in digital cameras. As a result, Sony believes, even when its device is superior it might not sell as well.

How Microsoft Blew It With Windows Mobile

Nov 17, 2009

Microsoft Windows continues to dominate the PC market with a 90 percent market-share stronghold, but when it comes to smartphones, Microsoft is getting beat up worse than a mustachioed villain in a Jackie Chan movie. Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its smartphone market share since 2008, research firm Gartner reports. Windows Mobile had 11 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, and last quarter Windows Mobile’s market share plummeted to 7.9 percent. Meanwhile, Apple’s global market share grew from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM saw a rise from 16 percent to 20.8 percent, according to Gartner’s figures.

Apple Emerges as Nintendo's Game Rival

Nov 11, 2009

Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo Co., is a self-proclaimed Apple Inc. fan. He carries an iPhone and uses a Mac laptop. So when Mr. Iwata says Nintendo and Apple aren't competitors, he should know what he's talking about. Nintendo, whose gadgets and software dominate the portable-videogame market, faces the greatest risk from the emergence of Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch as gaming platforms. But Mr. Iwata says attempts to create a rivalry between the two companies make him "uncomfortable," because he says it isn't true. He argues the companies appeal to different consumers.

Cisco's Collaboration Platform: Facebook for Business?

Nov 9, 2009

Not content with bringing socialism to its boardroom, Flip cams to the family room, and comedic product placements to the nation's TV screens, Cisco has just unveiled a set of Web-based communication products that could put the San Jose company into direct competition with both Google and Microsoft. Its entry into two new markets--hosted email and enterprise social software--is, says Cisco, part of a push to make business more people-centric than document-centric. This move signals a major shift for a company that is best known as the Internet's plumber (the Internet's backbone if you prefer). Along with a cloud-based mail system, WebEx Mail, the company is introducing a social video system, called Cisco Show and Share. According to the PR blurb, it "helps organizations create and manage highly secure video communities to share ideas and expertise, optimize global video collaboration, and personalize the connection between customers, employees and students with user-generated content." Also on its way is the Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform, a cross between a corporate directory with social networking capabilities.

Coffee Maker Illy Uses Backdoor To Take On Starbucks in the U.S.

Nov 3, 2009

Italian coffee maker IllyCaffè SpA has a stealth plan for moving in on Starbucks Corp.'s turf. By joining forces with independent coffee shops, Illy can get its name in front of more customers without having to buy or rent its own shops. For more than 20 years the closely held company, based in Trieste, Italy, has sold its coffee in high-end grocers such as Whole Foods and in coffee shops, hotels and restaurants in the U.S. Now it's expanding its reach by signing contracts with cafes in the U.S. that agree to serve Illy exclusively and allow Illy a hand in quality control. For the shops, aligning with a premium brand is a way to differentiate themselves from chains and other independent shops—and to charge higher prices.

Barnes & Noble vs...Starbucks?

Oct 29, 2009

There has been a flurry of news lately about Barnes & Noble's new e-reader, the Nook. It will compete head on with Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader, offering additional features such as limited book sharing and newspaper subscriptions. If successful, of course, those features will be matched by the Nook's competitors, just as Barnes & Noble has matched their price points. It's fascinating to watch these three powerful companies--the dominant bricks-and-mortar bookseller, the dominant online bookseller, and a long-dominate electronic industry player--compete in this new arena. And word is that Apple's e-reader isn't far behind, which will further mix things up (and will be good for us all).

10 Things Google Has Taught Us

Oct 28, 2009

In researching his new book, Googled: the End of the World as We Know It, to be published next week by Penguin Press, author Ken Auletta had extensive access to the company's inner workings and reported widely on its impact on the media landscape. In a Fortune.com exclusive, he offers ten enduring lessons drawn from his journey into Google's realm.

The App Store Effect: Are iPhone Apps Headed for Oblivion?

Oct 16, 2009

It's uncanny. When known software gets repackaged for iPhones and iPod Touches and passes through the hallowed gates of the App Store, something happens: Almost invariably, it gets cheaper. Waaay cheaper. Good right? Well, not always. The App Store is a strange new place for developers. Veterans and newcomers engage in bareknuckle combat, driving prices down to levels people wouldn't have imagined charging just a few years ago. Margins drop to razor-thin levels while customers expect apps to get cheaper and cheaper, but with ever increasing quality and depth. For developers, for other software platforms and potentially for the increasingly fickle customers themselves, it's uncharted, and treacherous, territory. But the most bizarre thing of all is—in an effort to keep people in the App Store, and to prevent competitors from getting a toehold in the mobile app business—Apple's charting a course straight into it.

Barnes & Noble's E-Reader Leaks, Surprises, Changes The Game

Oct 14, 2009

We've known for months that bookseller and publisher B&N had an e-reader on the works, and last week's color e-ink rumor really stirred things up--it would be a feature beating all other available or due-soon e-readers, including Amazon's Kindle. That excitement was abruptly quashed by B&N itself, which flatly denied a color e-reader was coming. But now that Gizmodo's secured some photos, renderings and details via a "source from within" the company, it seems that B&N was telling a half-truth. The device (which may, or may not, be named the eBook) has not one screen, but two: A standard daylight-viewable e-ink unit, and a neat full-width, multitouch, full-color LCD one.

Is Your Fighter Brand Strong Enough to Win the Battle?

Mark Ritson
Oct 14, 2009

It's an increasingly common dilemma for CMOs with brands in the middle or top end of the market. Should you tackle the threat head-on and reduce existing prices on your premium brand, knowing it will reduce profits and potentially damage brand equity? Or should you maintain prices, hope for better times to return, and in the meantime lose sales from customers and support from your CEO? With both of these alternatives often proving equally unpalatable, many marketers have decided on a third option: launching a fighter brand.

Google on Search: Size Doesn't Matter That Much

Oct 13, 2009

You didn't think Google was going to take the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal lying down, did you? The Mountain View, Calif.-based giant hasn't taken an official position on the proposed deal, but it is quietly disseminating a view to regulators, politicians, analysts and journalists: that the need for scale is not a valid case for approving Microsoft's search deal with Yahoo. This, of course, is the core argument in favor of the deal: that Microsoft and Yahoo cannot compete effectively against Google in search on their own and that their deal would make the search market itself more competitive.

Subway Strives to Keep Strategy Fresh

Oct 9, 2009

From Domino’s sandwich launch and in-your-face ad campaign to Quiznos attacking at every price point, Subway has had more than its share of competition this year. However, the chain continues to see gains on top of the double-digit growth it experienced last year. Sales may be coming in $5 as a time, but that’s the way Subway wants it. The $5 footlong has given the chain a weapon to battle the recession—one that competitors continue to search for an answer to combat. CEO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Jeff Moody sat down with Brandweek to discuss the competition, the economy and the chain’s plans for future growth.

Google Wave Crashes On Beach of Overhype

Robert Scoble
Oct 2, 2009

I just got my Google Wave invite. No, I’m already out, so I can’t send one to you, sorry. But this service is way overhyped and as people start to use it they will realize it brings the worst of email and IM together: unproductivity. See, the first thing you notice is that you can see people chatting live in Google Wave. That’s really cool if you are working on something together, like a spreadsheet or a Word document. But it’s a productivity sink if you are trying to just communicate with other people. It also ignores the productivity gains that we’ve gotten from RSS feeds, Twitter, and FriendFeed. What do I mean by that?

The Collaboration Imperative

Sep 24, 2009

This is the Version 2.0 era. We have seen the rise of Web 2.0 technologies; companies are using Enterprise 2.0 tools; and in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the world's leaders are trying to create Capitalism 2.0. As companies wade through these challenging times, I see a distinct shift towards another new paradigm: Collaboration 2.0. There's growing recognition everywhere of the need for corporations to collaborate with government, with customers, with NGOs, with stakeholders--and even with competition. In order to survive, business requires the cover of a collaborative ecosystem that will probably render obsolete traditional views of competition.

Blockbuster to Shutter More Stores

Sep 16, 2009

Blockbuster Inc. is planning to close as many as 40% of its stores over the next two years as the company continues to struggle against new competitors. The Dallas-based movie-rental company had previously planned to close 1,000 stores, but on Tuesday it raised that number to as many as 1,560 of its 3,750 retail outlets. Of those, up to 300 may be converted to outlets, and up to 300 are undergoing lease mitigation or termination efforts. It said the move would help boost profitability and save $26 million in working capital. Blockbuster has come under increasing pressure in recent years as lower-cost rivals have entered the field.

For Toys 'R' Us, Holidays Are Open and Shut

Sep 15, 2009

In an effort to take sales from rivals, Toys "R" Us Inc. is setting up 350 temporary stores and toy boutiques that will stay open during the holiday season, in many cases taking over shuttered retail space in shopping malls. Chief Executive Gerald R. Storch said Toys "R" Us wants to "seize the day" and increase holiday market share, even as toy sales remain mired in a recessionary slump. The move also underscores the race with competitors like Sears Holdings Corp. that want to capture the spending that last year went to the now-defunct KB Toys chain.

CMOs: Don't Neglect Innovation at the Expense of Your Bottom Line

Rita Chang
Sep 11, 2009

Given that innovation is the only sustainable advantage these days, advertisers need to allocate at least 10% of their marketing budget to foster it, even in these economically challenged times, said former eBay and Best Buy CMO Mike Linton, who spoke to an audience at the Aberdeen Group's Chief Marketing Officer Summit here yesterday. Innovation, by Mr. Linton's definition, is any action taken by the brand that changes consumer behavior in favor of the company, and that can range from a new product to a new way to service customers.

More On: Everything I Need to Know About Marketing I Learned From Google

Sep 9, 2009

In my last column I laid out 10 lessons I learned about marketing from Google. The response from the Search Insider community was, to borrow a phrase from Gaylord Focker in "Meet the Parents," strong-to-very-strong. I received some great feedback and all sorts of suggestions for other golden Google rules. Many of these have application beyond marketing to product development and even general business management. Today, I'll continue the thread around marketing lessons learned from Google. And I'll look to broaden the scope in upcoming columns to include business principles and other miscellany.

Choose the Correct Paradigm to Shift

Tom Asacker
Sep 9, 2009

"The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way." - Richard Stallman A paradigm is nothing more than a set of assumptions, values, and practices that constitute a way of viewing reality. For example, if you view business as a competitive endeavor, then you place yourself, metaphorically, on the same track as the "other guy." You think about beating the other guy. You value beating the other guy. You put practices in place to beat the other guy. Unfortunately, customers could care less about you and the other guy. Customers care about themselves. Today's paradigm shifting is about new, out-of-the-box consumer experiences.

Naming and Branding v. Category Domination

Sep 4, 2009

The Branding Strategy Insider has me thinking about the relationship between brand naming and category domination. They think that dominating a category is more important than extending your brand - no matter how well regarded your brand name is, it simply cannot grow if the category is dying or overly crowded. Kodak is the prime example here: we all know the brand name, but few of us use film anymore and their crossover into digital photography has been rocky. The advice here is to start a new brand in a new category, aka Starbucks, Red Bull and BlackBerry. The idea is to have a narrow focus, get in first and grab deep recognition and reach. Clorox = bleach. Tabasco = hot sauce. That's nice work, if you can get it.

Category First. Brand Second.

Sep 3, 2009

A brand is the tip of an iceberg. How big and how deep the iceberg is will determine how powerful the brand is. The iceberg is the category. If it melts, the brand will melt too. Take Kodak, for example. Just eight years ago, Interbrand ranked Kodak as the 16th most valuable brand in the world, worth $14.8 billion. Every year since, the Kodak brand has fallen in both rank and value. In 2008 it fell off Interbrand's Top 100 list worth less than $3.3 billion. What’s a Kodak? It’s the world’s best film-photography brand. Unfortunately for Kodak, the film-photography iceberg is melting as the world turns digital.

Brand Positioning and Perceptual Maps

Sep 1, 2009

A brand’s position is the set of perceptions, impressions, ideas and feelings that consumers have for the product compared with competing products. Marketers plan positions that give their products the greatest advantage in selected target markets, and they design marketing mixes to create these planned positions. In planning their positioning, marketers often prepare perceptual maps that show consumer perceptions of their brand versus competing brands on attributes that are important to the consumer, whether functional or symbolic.

Staples vs. Office Depot: Who Goes to the Head of the Class?

Aug 27, 2009

Back to school but not back to normal. The retail industry is expected to record its first drop in back-to-school sales in 10 years, with the National Retail Federation estimating an 8% decline in year-over-year sales. Less money in consumers' pockets and reduced school budgets are hurting a category that is already having a difficult year. At Staples and Office Depot, the No. 1 and No. 2 brands, respectively, in the specialist office-supply sector, the marketing departments are sharpening their 2B pencils to compete for a share of a smaller market and keep general retailers such as Walmart and Target from stealing their lunchboxes.

Do You Have Any Offense?

Aug 10, 2009

What makes a sports dynasty? How do some teams, like the New England Patriots and Duke basketball, succeed season after season, occasionally failing, but regrouping right away? In business, what enables P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Toyota and others to stay great while others fall to upstarts?

Does Brand Differentiation Matter with No Competitors?

Jul 31, 2009

When it comes building a strong brand that matters to consumers, differentiation is a key in separating your offerings from competitors. But what if you don’t have any competitors? Does brand differentiation matter then?

Do You Bing? Yahooers May Soon Search With Microsoft

Jul 27, 2009

Yahoo is close to making Microsoft's Bing its search provider. The deal, which would make Yahoo a more credible competitor to Google, is likely to be announced this week, and seems likely to be based on a revenue share, not on a big fat check upfront, as some at Yahoo had hoped.

Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis

Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky
Jul 4, 2009

It would be profoundly reassuring to view the current economic crisis as simply another rough spell that we need to get through. Unfortunately, though, today’s mix of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty will continue as the norm even after the recession ends. Economies cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change, and political instability. The immediate crisis—which we will get through, with the help of policy makers’ expert technical adjustments—merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges.

The New Rules of Brand Competition

Jun 22, 2009

The old branding model is past its "sell by" date. It is a product-centered model that comes from packaged goods in the '70s and '80s; offer differentiated benefits that a particular consumer segment is thought to care about. "My peas are picked at the peak of sweetness"...that kind of thing. This model is breaking down as people try store brands and find they are "fit for purpose" at a better price. Now what?

Best Buy Challenges Walmart on Employee Smarts

Jun 18, 2009

Best Buy is picking up market share, thanks in part to the demise of rival Circuit City. But the electronics giant also has a formidable competitor in Walmart, which has been revamping its electronics departments and stocking more-sophisticated products. Now Best Buy is battling back with a spot that calls out Walmart by name.

Hallmark: Calling Card

Jun 15, 2009

Brands that don’t keep up with the times are subject to negative perceptions, eroding brand preference and, ultimately, a decline in brand equity. Particularly vulnerable are those brands operating in businesses that seem old and stodgy. Take traditional printed greeting cards, for example. While they maintain their popularity, printed cards are increasingly under attack by online greetings—“e-cards”—which can incorporate multimedia to competitive advantage.

Google: We're Actually Really Small

Jeff Horwitz
Jun 9, 2009

Three times in the last month, government agencies have targeted Google for antitrust reviews. An outstanding private lawsuit alleges that Google tried to kill a business-to-business search engine with predatory pricing. And during the waning months of the Bush administration, soon-to-be Obama antitrust chief Christine Varney declared that Google "has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising." Last month she asserted that the Bush administration had been too lax in combating monopolistic behavior and that the Obama Justice Department would no longer "stand on the sidelines." This should explain why Dana Wagner, a former Department of Justice antitrust lawyer hired by Google just last year, is rapidly becoming one of the company's public faces.

MySpace Suffers as Time on Facebook, Twitter Rises

Jun 3, 2009

News Corp. executives often present MySpace and Facebook as competing in different markets, with Facebook used as a communications vehicle and MySpace for entertainment. Whatever the case, a straight line can be drawn between more time spent on Facebook and less on MySpace.

Wal-Mart Steps Up Its Game in Electronics Aisle

May 18, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is revamping the electronics departments in its more than 3,500 U.S. stores this week, ramping up an aggressive battle with Best Buy Co. and Amazon.com to seize customers up for grabs due to the demise of Circuit City Stores Inc. Wal-Mart's roomier and more interactive electronics displays begin arriving in stores Monday, showcasing the latest mobile phones and portable computers, and including standalone sections for popular brands such as Nintendo Co. and Apple Inc.

Latest “Laptop Hunters” Ad From Microsoft Hits The Web: Meet Lauren And Sue

May 15, 2009

The latest Laptop Hunters ad in the famous series features pre-law student Lauren and her mom, Sue. They are looking for speed, portability and battery life, and a few opportunities to slap down Macs.

Why Do Popular Brands Have Such Incredible Staying Power?

May 11, 2009

Why is Tide so popular? Why is Heinz Ketchup still so popular in Pittsburgh? These questions, posed by Tyler Cowan on his Marginal Revolution blog, generated lots of interesting answers.

Google’s Strength May Be Part of Microsoft Defense Strategy

May 8, 2009

Microsoft will argue against a European Commission proposal that it promote competing browsers in its Windows operating system on the ground that such a move would strengthen its rival Google’s dominance in the global search-advertising market, according to a person with direct knowledge of Microsoft’s legal defense.

Firefox Could Be the Real Facebook Challenger

Marshall Kirkpatrick
May 7, 2009

Firefox doesn't keep track of the number of users it has but Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's director of community development, said today that the company estimates that there are 270 million people using the browser. That's 35% more users than Facebook has signed up for accounts (200 million), and almost triple the number of people Facebook says log in to the social network every day (100 million). Why compare user numbers between a browser and a social network? Because there's every reason to believe that the two technologies are converging in the near term future. Here's why we believe that Firefox should be Facebook's biggest competition.

Starbucks Reveals Long-Term Ad Campaign

May 1, 2009

Starbucks, the coffee company that built its business on word-of-mouth recommendations, is to reveal “a long term, multi-million dollar” advertising campaign in the US, as it seeks to combat perceptions that its products are over-priced. Howard Schultz, chief executive, said the campaign would “define the fact of what's true and what’s not”.

Best Buy Expands Private-Label Brands

Apr 27, 2009

Best Buy Co. is rapidly expanding its private-label electronics business in a gamble to gain a key competitive advantage over rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Best Buy believes it can prosper in private-label electronics -- an area that has historically flummoxed U.S. retailers -- by using the mountains of customer feedback it collects from its stores to make simple innovations to established electronic gadgetry. The move comes as Best Buy's position in the consumer electronics market has strengthened in the past year following the liquidation of former rival Circuit City Stores Inc.

Is Corona Losing its Luster As King of Imported Beers?

Apr 10, 2009

Corona Extra's formidable brand was built, in part, on crackerjack marketing campaigns equating the Mexican brew with tranquil vacations on pristine beaches. But Corona's falling sales have some beer business watchers wondering whether there's trouble in paradise. A tough economy and intense competition are weighing on some of the higher-priced imports. Their future, and whether beer drinkers' habits have permanently changed, are being closely watched in the $26 billion-a-year industry.

Colgate's World-Beating Performance

Apr 2, 2009

Consumers have sworn off many things in this recession. Brushing their teeth is not one of them. That's good news for Colgate-Palmolive (CL), which for the past five years has slashed costs, raised prices, and flooded developing markets with its wares to counter a stagnant oral-care market in the U.S. as well as fierce competition from Procter & Gamble's (PG) Crest. The results: world-beating market shares for Colgate's toothpastes (45%) and manual toothbrushes (30%) and a Top 10 position in BusinessWeek's list of best-performing companies.

Rethinking 'Blue Ocean Strategy' in a Down Economy

Mar 31, 2009

Is "Blue Ocean Strategy" obsolete? No. Instead, its lessons need to be reinterpreted in relation to new economic realities. It offers many useful insights, whether a category is ripe for transformation or not.

Microsoft to Shut Encarta As Free Sites Alter Market

Mar 31, 2009

Microsoft Corp. said it plans to shut down its Encarta encyclopedia, in the wake of pressures that include the growth of Wikipedia and other free reference sites.

Skype to Launch iPhone Software

Mar 30, 2009

EBay Inc.'s Skype unit plans to release a version of its Internet-based phone software for Apple Inc.'s iPhone. The move, set to be announced Tuesday, puts Skype more directly in competition for wireless voice services with network operators such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

At A.I.G., the Brand Is Tarnished

Mar 23, 2009

A strong brand is something no insurer can afford to put at risk. Insurance companies trade, more than anything else, on their image of strength and stability.

Apple Raises Its iPhone Ante

Mar 19, 2009

Apple is making it easier for developers to create iPhone applications, which could increase its smartphone market share.

Pressure on Blackberry, Google, Microsoft to Catch Apple

Mar 18, 2009

Apple's sneak peek at iPhone 3.0 shows that most of its smartphone rivals, such as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, Android maker Google, and Microsoft are still far behind in mobile software. Can they catch up?

Best Buy Confronts Newer Nemesis

Mar 15, 2009

Finally victorious over longtime archrival Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. is now gearing up to fight an even more powerful foe: Wal-Mart.

Why Apple Is Living In Denial

Mar 4, 2009

The world's financial system has had its guts torn out. The U.S. unemployment rate is on the express train to double-digit land. And Apple's biggest rivals--Hewlett-Packard and Dell--are racing to grab whatever business is left with dirt-cheap laptop computers.

Competition, Positioning and Blazing Your Own Trail

Feb 25, 2009

I’m gonna open up the Brains on Fire heart and soul here for a moment and talk about something that we struggle with: it’s how we talk about what we do as a company. Here’s the dilemma: If you use your own language, then you have to explain harder what you do. But if you use the same language as everyone else, then you fall into the “just another” category.

Some Businesses Think Big During The Downturn

Jan 13, 2009

While many companies are firing staff, shelving renovation plans and pinching pennies, the owners of Raj Manufacturing in Tustin are expanding. The swimwear maker is betting that it can boost its market share while its competitors are cutting back -- and the hot sales of its daring Animal Instinct swimsuits seem to support the move.


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