The Wall Street Journal
Toys? Not so much. Kids want what most adults consider electronics. Today, the toy industry competes with Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and Apple. (My 11-year-old son asked for an iPhone this Christmas. My 15-year-old? A MacBook.) Its called age compression, when children reach for items used by older kids or adults. From a recent study: Children start playing with computers at 5 1/2, CDs and DVDs at 6, music players at 8. The presents under the tree are way more expensive. And to be clear, my sons not getting an iPhone before I do.
Music's real value
When Radiohead released its new album "In Rainbows" as a pay-what-you-will digital download, some thought it was crazy. Fans hungered for their first album in four years - so why do it? Well, the experiment worked. "In the first month, about a million fans downloaded 'In Rainbows.' Roughly 40 percent of them paid for it, according to comScore, at an average of $6 each, netting the band nearly $3 million." And here's the really radical part: The band owns the master recording, not the record company. So now they're able to license the album for a record label to distribute it the old-fashioned way, on CD. It's available in the United States Jan. 1.
Talk through your ear
Compliments of Sanyo and electronics manufacturer NS-ELEX, you may soon be able to use your earpiece to speak on your mobile phone. The companies "have created a mobile phone headset that goes in one ear and not only delivers sound from callers on the other end of the line, but picks up users' voices as well, cutting out ambient noise in the process." It's called the e-Mimi-Kun (rough translation: "good ear boy"). It picks up your words via the Eustachian tube inside your ear, solving that problem of being heard when you're in a noisy bar, er, place.
Logic + Emotion
Kill the art department
David Armano doesn't just want to just kill the art department, he wants to kill the whole department mentality, "like, permanently." He references industrial design firm IDEO's approach to designing a better shopping cart. While senior people still called the shots, the whole team managed the research and development process. Roles blurred and ideas came from everywhere, with the team "quickly visualizing and building concepts based off insights + observation." Given that most design businesses are "built on departments, messages, and making promises," Armano says most agencies have a long way to go to get to IDEO's level. But "if agencies genuinely desire to innovate, then it's time to kill the department mentality."
FC Expert blog
Wendy Marks blogs about a new hire who called on the morning of his first day to say he wasn't going to take the job after all and had accepted another offer. While it's fine that this person didn't want the job, by calling at the last second to "quit" this person ruined his personal brand. Rule number one for protecting your brand and managing your career? Behave ethically. Number two? Never burn a bridge.
Google Babel Fish
It's becoming a smaller world all the time. And now, thanks to Google Talk, Google's chat client, even language could become less of a barrier. Google Talk offers translation on the fly, as you chat. So in theory you can have a conversation in English with someone speaking Chinese, and you might just understand each other. No doubt, something will get lost in the translation, so I wouldn't be doing any contract negotiation. But this is one of those "one world" advances that feels like a glimpse into the future.
Solar start-up Nanosolar, financed by (among others) Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, has shipped the first flexible thin-film solar cells. This is a milestone for solar, because Nanosolar has developed "a process to print solar cells made out of CIGS, a combination of elements that many companies are pursuing as an alternative to silicon. What's so great about that? Nanosolar says the product will allow it to "eventually deliver solar electricity at below 1 dollar per watt, which would be significantly cheaper than fossil fuel sources of power generation."
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