A New Solar Energy Business Model?

Wired writes about a new company, CitizenrÄ“ Corporation, that “will loan you a complete rooftop solar power system, install it for free and sell you back the power it generates at a fixed rate below what your utility charges.” Much of the article is devoted to a discussion of whether the company is a scam […]

Creator or Aggregator

Scott Karp has a nice summary of the creator vs. aggregator split going on in the media industry right now. The real divide now emerging is between companies that create original content and companies that create platforms for aggregating and distributing that content. Newspapers embody the old media world where content creation, aggregation, and distribution […]

How’s This for a Disney Line Extension?

Today’s Wall Street Journal had an article about Disney’s move into wedding dresses: Disney has teamed up with couture bridal designer Kirstie Kelly to transform blushing brides into their favorite princesses, complete with billowing gowns and crystal tiaras. At a cost of $1,100 to $3,000 for each gown, brides will be able to walk down […]

Brainstorming Laid Bare

Earlier this month, as Gap’s problems came back into the news, the gang at Influx posted a list of 21 possible solutions. While not the raw output from a brainstorming session, it’s still first stage output and, as you would expect, is “a wild mix of the predictable, the impractical and the crazy.” While the […]

Internet as Product

I find it interesting how many people think of the internet as a product. For many, the internet is simply the World Wide Web and the sites that are found on it. This is why, for example, people spend so much time worrying about the battle of internet video vs TV, and why Wal-Mart’s video […]

Mini-Houses

Today’s New York Times has an article about small houses, and I mean small – like 300 square feet small. A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve… as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, […]

Fashion Confirms Broader Consumer Trends

In early January, the Wall Street Journal published an article discussing some of Tom Ford‘s key themes in fashion (re-printed here in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). His themes included some macro-trends that have been seen in other consumer markets for some time: Personalization of Luxury Goods Personalization and customization have been strong in consumer goods for […]

Differences Among Nations

Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics, wrote a fascinating piece on OpinionJournal.com Monday, in which he discussed reasons for the disparate economic performance of certain Continental European nations vs. the United States. As I read this, two questions kept running through my mind – what might this mean for a company’s European expansion […]

The (Speed) Evolution of Scrapbooking

Just a few years ago scrapbooking was the hottest new business to hit the craft industry. Scrapbooking took over the Craft and Hobby Association shows and the growth was meteoric. Scrapbooking companies sold for prices that seemed outrageous by past industry standards. In the midst of the boom, however, retailers and vendors asked themselves how […]

The Future of Cable (Or is That the Future of Content?)

Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion has an interesting post on “The Future of Cable TV in an Open World.” He posits three scenarios: 1) The Cablecos Embrace Change and Re-address the Economics Right now cable and satellite TV are very inefficient. If you hate sports, you’re out of luck. You still need to pay for […]

More on Art Influences

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about grafitti’s (not recent) move into the mainstream. As if on cue, I see this January article from the Telegraph, discussing the high prices of graffiti art. From the article: The die-hards will say it’s a sell-out, but it’s a sign of the times. Graffiti art has […]

Will Wal-Mart Bomb Out of Video Downloads?

Wal-Mart’s announcement yesterday that it is entering the video download market was met by a fair amount of skepticism as well as some gleeful remembrances of how the retail giant left the DVD rental business. We read that “delusionary behavior [is] making a strong comeback,” “There are too many me-too download services out there,” and […]

Corollary to ‘Too Simple to Sell’

A few weeks ago I noted Don Norman’s article on consumers’ desire for more complex products. Yesterday’s New York Times pointed out the corollary to that rule – consumers like higher prices. Well, not really, but when you’re trying to sell a product with more features than an alternative, consumers tend to suspect its quality […]

Silly Commentary on Super Bowl Ads

It’s the day after the Super Bowl so I suppose it’s de rigueur to comment on the ads and the New York Times does its part with this piece. Here’s how it begins: No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran […]

Green (Alone) Remains a Niche

There is much talk lately to suggest that momentum for the Green movement is building. Unfortunately, the only momentum I see building is for talk about momentum building. If you are selling a product which has as its only advantage over alternatives its “greenness,” you are selling a niche product. There are consumers who will […]