Starbucks gets bookish
If Barnes & Noble can sell coffee, it stands to reason Starbucks can sell books. And thats just what chairman Howard Schultz aims to do by the end of the year. While short on details, he said the work of popular authors would be featured, in much the same way the company has been selling selected CDs. Add a plan to make proprietary content downloadable to customers through the in-store WiFi network, and youve got even more reasons to go to Starbucks. Fast Company wonders if Schultz will now anoint bestsellers, as Oprah does.
Tech change formulaPip Coburn's formula is Change = f (level of current crisis, perceived pain of adoption). Meaning that people adopt technology only when the pain of their current situation exceeds their perceived pain of adopting a possible solution. Simple, right? Well, simple sells. Consider the Internet refrigerator. You don't have one because it doesn't address a pressing need and it would be painful to install. But consider the flat-panel TV. Everyone ''gets" what it is and how to use it. And, since 19 percent of all televisions sold in 2005 were flat panels, we feel intense pain at not having one.
Seeking blog metricsCompanies are rightly seeking metrics that prove out the ROI for blogs. But Steve Rubel says it's ''like 1995-96 was for online advertising. We're not there yet." But he does say that traffic alone is not necessarily a key metric for a blog's success. He describes a T-shaped new model. ''Where the long cross is reach and then a small subset of audience that is narrow is where you develop a deep level of engagement with that audience." Instead, ask, how many conversations get started? How many people are linking in?
In opposite directionsWhile Ford and GM are closing plants and slashing jobs, Honda is sinking$400 million into building its sixth US auto plant, creating 1,500 jobs in the Midwest by 2008. Of Honda's record first-quarter profit of $1.9 billion, three-quarters of it was derived from the United States. Compare that to GM, which lost more than $10 billion last year. By 2008, GM will shutter 12 plants and lay off 30,000 workers. Ford? It's shutting down 14 US plants and cutting 34,000 jobs. Ford lost $1.2 billion in the first quarter alone.
Boeing opens upMost aerospace/defense contractors are not known for openness. But Boeing is embracing the power of blogs. A blog by the vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes may have unleashed some stinging criticism but it also opened up a constructive dialogue with the public and customers. The Flight Test Journal blog gave the public a rare look at the process Boeing and federal regulators went through to certify Boeing's newest airliner. And Boeing's internal blogs have opened dialogues with employees, allowing them to raise issues anonymously.
Women earn more?Warren Farrell, author of ''Why Men Earn More," says the male-female pay gap has nothing to do with women being less effective or productive. It's because 76 percent of men are motivated by money. Women? 29 percent. Typically, men make choices that lead to more money and women opt to earn more time with family and friends. But when women make the same lucrative decisions as men, Farrell claims, women actually earn more. He says whoever is more willing to relocate, travel, and work 80-hour weeks earns more.
Green computersThe Environmental Protection Agency announced a voluntary manufacturing standard that will help computer buyers select desktop PCs, laptops, and monitors that are environmentally friendly. To market their electronics as green, manufacturers must use more recycled and nonhazardous materials and design things to last longer, be more energy-efficient, and easier to upgrade. Estimates are that in five years this will reduce hazardous waste by 4 million pounds and save enough energy to power 2 million homes.
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