Showing posts with label Price. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Price. Show all posts

June 11, 2018

Contrarian on Apple

As Apple approaches the unbelievable $1 trillion mark in market value, I am going the contrarian. 

Historically, I love Apple products--truly. 

But since Steve Jobs, Apple has done virtually nothing!

They are losing the battle for common sense priced products. 

They are losing the battle on innovation. 

Think for a second what has Apple come out with that is "WOW" in the last few years--either in terms of new product or design. 

Do you care anything about Siri?

Are you in love with their Apple Watch? 

Do you think much of their new iPhone X?

What about the computers--same old, same old?

I am still using the iPhone 7plus and have no intention to upgrade anytime soon. 

See the picture above, this is Apple's idea of innovation. 

It's the new Mac Pro -- virtually the same as their iMac Pro, as their store rep explained to me--except it's shaped like a tall and weird version of the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. 

BTW, you still need to attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. 

Are you impressed NOT? 

Apple as a brand used to mean the latest and greatest. 

Even now, I am still drawn to Apple products, just because I am conditioned to think of it as the best!

But is it still the best and is it worth the premium price?

Apple still has me as a customer and I am still a big fan of what they have done in the past.

But they better do something amazing again and now, because I think their stock is in for a mighty big and painful tumble if we don't see the old Apple again soon. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 23, 2017

Uber Overconfidence

As everyone knows, Uber is essentially--for now--a high-tech taxi company.

And high-tech tends to command high price.

But they are IMHO very overconfident of their position. 

And while I generally like taking Ubers, I would go so far to say that in many respects they are potential dead cab meat!

Why?

- Not because their leadership is in disarray and their founder and CEO was just forced to resign.

- Not because they have a disastrous corporate culture.

- Not because of their uber low or not profitable margins.

- Not because of the threat of autonomous driverless vehicles.

- Not because of the (alleged) stolen documents from Google.

- Not because Uber is (potentially) overvalued at nearly $70 billion (more than GM, Ford, or Honda)!

- Not because of its numerous competitors coming up from behind, including Lyft.

But a major reason is because:

They just gave you a not-so-hidden increase in price by tacking on a new tipping mechanism that will result in many people paying as much as a 20% hike to their overall fares.

Uber is now losing a sizable portion of their price point competitive advantage!

With the risks involved here, who could be so overconfident?
Perhaps, it's time to take a cab or hovercraft somewhere else. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(All represents my own opinions)
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May 17, 2016

613 The Perfect Trip

So the sightings continue today of the mystical and holy 613 (number of commandments in the Torah).

Check out the cost of this vacation trip to Yellowstone National Park.

It's not $599 or $699 like you would usually see these things advertised for. 

Instead the family adventure starts at $613!!!

Too many times now, too frequent, and in too many different places to be just random or chance. 

Someone is trying to tell us something.

Hopefully, it is a sign for blessings for mankind. ;-)

(Source Photo: Ellen Weiner)
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March 30, 2015

That's Getting A LIttle Personal

This was a funny advertisement hanging in Hot Topic in the mall. 

It says: "Get in our pants"--well, excuse you!

Using sexual come-ons to sell, sell, sell...is not a new marketing strategy. 

As they say in the biz world, "Sex sells!"

Perhaps a more targeted ad about quality, fit, and pricing would be more to the product point.

But why sell with facts, when you can sell with fantasy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2014

Lowest Price Guaranteed!

So I bought a really comfy chair--everyone wants one of these. 

(Note: Pictured here is not the actual chair or store from my story today.)

Anyway, I was so happy thinking about how lush the sitting experience would be. 

Yes, the "retail price" seemed high, but I got the "Veterans Day discount" and then bargained some more. 

So I thought I probably did okay on the negotiation, especially since I was dealing with a major national brand.

Also, the contract/invoice had in writing a "lowest price guarantee"--so that if within 30 days, I found the chair for cheaper, the company "would gladly refund the difference in full"!

Sounds good, right?

But something wasn't feeling right and when I went home I had trouble sleeping--something seemed off with this purchase and this merchant. 

So in the morning, I checked online and found the exact same chair for almost $300 less!

Well, I headed straight to the store with a printout of the lower price I had found and promptly presented it to the store manager for the refund of the difference as promised.

But instead of the glad refund, I got stonewalled and the dumbest look on the store manager's face I have ever seen. 

He started the million excuses why he wouldn't refund the difference in price as promised. 

First he said, oh, the chair I found was a different color--I showed him the chair online and the one in his showroom, and they were the identical color and everything. 

Then, he goes for a second attempt, saying, uh the price guarantee doesn't apply to prices found at outlets, and I said where does the price I found say outlet anywhere? He couldn't find anything like that. 

So he tries a third time to get rid of me, and says, the merchandise has to be advertised under "the same terms and conditions," and it wasn't.  I said what terms and conditions weren't the same?  He said, well, they just weren't the same. 

At which point, he told me plain and simple that he wasn't going to refund the difference and that I should get out of the store. 

I won't tell you all the (legal) details how, but let's just say this guy was sorry for trying to do that...and I walked out with the price difference refunded. 

Buyer beware--lot's of crooks out there trying to take your money and giving guarantees that are complete b.s. 

This is probably especially the case with many brick and mortar retailers who are having serious problems competing with their significantly lower overhead online brethren. 

Beware--Beware--Beware!!! 

I learned again today and taught my daughter to stand up for what is rightfully yours and don't let anyone take advantage of you!  

You work for your money too and no one should cheat you out of it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2014

Amazing Amazon

So Amazon should be renamed Amazing, because they are.

They are the best online retailer--love 'em!

SELECTION: Amazon has everything. 

PRICE: Amazon is reasonably priced.

SPEED: Amazon Prime gets you your goodies delivered in under 48 hours. 

RETURNS: Amazon takes returns easily; virtually no questions asked. 

Amazon is so customer focused that you can even email Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO himself, at Jeff@Amazon.com. 

Aside from their highly successful retail operation, they have the Kindle tablets, Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing, Kiva Robots for warehouse operations, and more. 

So what's the secret of their success?

One thing, according to the Wall Street Journal, is their tough hiring practices. 

Amazon has "several hundred" interviewers called "Bar Raisers" that give candidates extremely thorough interviews.

Bar Raisers typically have conducted "dozens or hundreds of interviews and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to become stars."

Typically, it "takes five or six employees at least two hours each" to evaluate and vet an applicant. 

Amazon makes all this effort in recruiting to weed out people who are the wrong fit for the company. 

They believe that it's better to invest in a sophisticated recruiting process than to make costly hiring mistakes. 

While this certainly sounds like a well thought out and vigorous hiring process, the article makes little to no mention of performance measures showing that their hires really are better matches, have superior performance, or stay with the company longer. 

The one anecdote given was of a Bar Raiser who found a candidate for a programming job that "didn't know much about the specific programming language."

Barring some real statistics though, either you could conclude that Amazon's hiring process is truly superior or perhaps question why it takes them 5 to 6 interviews to do what other successful companies do in 1 or 2. 

Either way though, Amazon is a amazingly great company. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 16, 2012

Amazon Will Bury Walmart

I've never seen the great allure of Walmart. Actually before I moved from NYC to the DC area more than a decade ago, I had never even seen a Walmart--and that was just fine. 

But I had heard these amazing tales of how they were superstores with everything you could ever want and at low prices and the shopping experience was supposed to be, oh what a delight!

So I cannot tell you my utter disappointment the first time I went to Walmart--shabby storefronts, elderly door greeters handing out store circulars and stickers, messy aisles and shelves, with low price tags on a swirling everything, and sort of the image of crummy leftover merchanidse throughout, and top that off with pushing crowds trying to save a couple of bucks on the junk. 

Let's just say, I'm not running back to Walmart, especially when we have online shopping experiences like Amazon--now that is much closer to nirvana. 

No drive, no crowds, no wait, no up and down the aisles looking for what you want, no shlepping, and no in your face "everyday low prices" image and we won't let you forget it--instead easy to find, interesting, varied, and quality merchandise of all types, at reasonable prices, with an easy checkout process, home delivery, free shipping, and easy returns. 

And as opposed to Walmart which is stuck in costly and inconvenient large brick and mortar stores, Amazon is investing in infrastructure of the future with convenient warehouse and delivery centers throughout the country, and more recently with their purchase of Kiva Systems in March 2012 for implementing robotics in their fulfillment centers. 

On top of it, Walmart (with nearly 2.2 million employees worldwide) in its endeavor to keep prices low, have spun up their workforce with jobs--that are often part time and unpredictable, low wage, lacking proper benefits, unsafe working conditions, and with questionable advancement opportunties (especially for women). Throw on top of that bribery allegations for which they've hired a new complaince officer. Yet, Walmart has also somehow managed to keep their workforce from unionizing to improve things. 

So how should we say this: how about straight out--Amazon gets it and Walmart does not!

And while Walmart has their own .com site--which coincidentally looks very much like Amazon's--Amazon is eating Walmart's lunch online, with according to NBC News a 41% revenue increase for Amazon's online sales versus just 3.4% for Walmart's. Moreover, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 March 2012) reports that Walmart's 2011 online sales amounted to less than 2% of their U.S. sales--they just can't seem to make the digital transformation!

So While overall Amazon sales at $48 billion are still only about 1/9 of Walmart colossal $419 billion, Amazon with it's high-tech approach (including their successful Kindle eReaders, cloud computing, and more) is anticipated to reach $100 billion in online sales by 2015

Like the other big box retailers of yore, Kmart, Sears, JC Penny, Circuit City, Best Buy, and more, Walmart will decline--it will just take a little longer and with a little more thrashing, because of the size of their checkbooks.  

Perhaps, as the New York Times implied years ago (17 July 2005) only stores like Costco (and throw in Nordstroms as well) with their tall aisles stocked neatly with quality goods, at low prices, and with better human capital ethos, will survive the big box retailer Armageddon.

My prediction is that within a generation Amazon will bury Walmart, if not literally so they are out of business, then figuratively with the best and most lucrative online shopping experience around--and as for the matchup betweent them, it won't even be close.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Fuschia Foot)
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