Saturday, January 03, 2009

Tesco is Wal-Mart's worst nightmare

Read more at KVOA News 4, Tucson, Arizona

British retailer Tesco entered the U.S. market only in 2007, but already it has managed to put Wal-Mart, the world's No. 1 retailer, on the defensive.

Tesco fired the first salvo, in a battle that retailing analysts expect will intensify, by launching Fresh & Easy, a chain of 10,000-square-foot convenience stores, in cities across California, Nevada, and Arizona in November 2007. Eleven months later, Wal-Mart returned fire, taking on Tesco in Arizona with the debut of the similar-size Marketside, its first new store format in a decade.

'It's a direct message from Wal-Mart to Tesco saying, 'Hey, we're watching you,'' says Neil Stern, a senior partner at retail consultants McMillan Doolittle in Chicago. ''And we'll not only copy you; we will do it better.''
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Wal-Mart tries to woo Illinois farmers

Read more at Chicago Business News,
. . .
"Long known for its uneasy relationship with rural America, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is trying to court small Illinois farmers.

The giant retailer wants to sell more local produce in its Illinois superstores to satisfy increasing customer demand. After reaching out to farmers on its own with mixed results, the Arkansas company is turning to the University of Illinois' MarketMaker, an online matchmaker for farmers and retailers. Some farmers have signed on, but the company is struggling to find enough supply."

Why media companies are hosed

from Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog
. . . the problem here is that advertisers don’t need media companies anymore. Take a look at Wal-Mart’s home
. . .
The point is that Wal-Mart is a media site in that it sells its reach to advertisers, a reach that vastly exceeds two of the top newspaper sites in the world. This is why I keep harping on everybody that the future for local media companies lies beyond their own walled garden websites, and those who refuse to hear that (like, everybody) are sprinting to the tar pits."

Wal-Mart alone among retailers expected to see December sales gains - Related Stories - ICSC SmartBrief

from ICSC SmartBrief: "CSC SmartBrief | 01/02/2009

Wal-Mart is the lone retailer expected to make gains for December, projected to see a 2.8% increase for the month as the rest of the industry drops 6.3%. The retailer 'is winning because it provides its customers with more value and merchandise,' one analyst said. 'That's so important right now because consumers are extremely careful with their money.' Wall Street Journal, The (subscription required) (12/31)"

Amazon, Wal-Mart Know How to Keep Web Shoppers Happy

read more
. . .
"Wal-Mart’s Web site is “climbing fast”, the report says, noting that this year’s score represents a five-point jump from 2006. “Their value model clearly plays well in this economic environment, so a key challenge for them will be whether they can retain customer loyalty when the economy improves,” the ForeSee study says."

Writing the Web’s Future in Many Languages


"Google’s initiatives in India are aimed at opening the country’s historically slow-growing personal computer market, and at developing expertise that Google will be able to apply to building services for emerging markets worldwide.

“India is a microcosm of the world,” said Dr. Prasad Bhaarat Ram, Google India’s head of research and development. “Having 22 languages creates a new level of complexity in which you can’t take the same approach that you would if you had one predominant language and applied it 22 times.
. . .

Google recently introduced news aggregation sites in Hindi and three major South Indian languages, and a transliteration tool for writing in five Indian languages. Its search engine operates in nine Indian languages, and can translate search results from the English Web into Hindi and back.

Google engineers are also plugging away on voice recognition, translation, transliteration and digital text reading that it plans to apply to other developing countries.

Mr. Ram Prakash of Quillpad said he was inspired when friends at Google told him they had compared Quillpad with Google’s transliteration tool. He said that he believed the use of local languages on the Web would soar even as more Indians strived to learn English.

Google in push to gain e-mail market share


"Yahoo and Microsoft have more than 250m users each worldwide for their webmail, according to the comScore research firm, compared to close to 100m for Gmail. But Google’s younger service, launched in 2004, has been gaining ground in the US over the past year, with users growing by more than 40 per cent, compared to 2 per cent for Yahoo and a 7 per cent fall in users of Microsoft’s webmail."

Google execs among big donors to inauguration

Read more
"Google executives, venture capitalists, advertising industry chiefs, attorneys and entrepreneurs contributed up to $50,000 each to the committee organizing the official festivities. The cash makes them part of a historic event that is expected to draw millions of spectators to the National Mall and, according to political analysts, buys them goodwill with the incoming administration.
. . .
Robert Haas, the former CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., donated $50,000 to Obama's inauguration; J. Minott Wessinger, president of San Francisco's McKenzie River Corp., a beverage marketing company, along with his wife, contributed $100,000; Carole Hays, president of the company that operates several Broadway theaters in San Francisco, and her husband also gave $100,000.
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Mountain View's Google is home to the biggest block of Bay Area donations. Six executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt, co-founder Larry Page and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, made individual contributions of $25,000 each, for a total of $150,000.
. . .
In donating to Obama's inaugural committee, the Bay Area's business elite joins Bill Gates of Microsoft, the family of billionaire investor George Soros, and Hollywood celebrities including director Steven Spielberg, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry. Absent is any big employee donation from Cisco Systems, the San Jose telecommunications equipment company that donated $100,000 to the Bush 2005 inauguration; and Chevron, which gave $250,000 toward the Bush festivities.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Google-Mart | PBS

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Google-Mart
published November 17, 2005
"And you know whose strategy this is? Wal-Mart's. "
The Google Mart Economy takes a different view. It's not just about Google following a WalMart strategy. It's about complimentary functionality. WalMart in physical space supported by the Cloud. Google in the Cloud supported by their servers in physical space.
From the link:
. . . So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.

Where some other outfit might put a router, Google is putting an entire data center, and the results are profound. Take Internet TV as an example. Replicating that Victoria's Secret lingerie show that took down years ago would be a non-event for Google. The video feed would be multicast over the private fiber network to 300 data centers, where it would be injected at gigabit speeds into each peering ISP. Viewers watching later would be reading from a locally cached copy. Yeah, but would it be Windows Media, Real, or QuickTime? It doesn't matter. To Google's local data center, bits are bits and the system is immune to protocols or codecs. For the first time, Internet TV will scale to the same level as broadcast and cable TV, yet still offer soemthing different for every viewer if they want it.

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Android OS Coming To Netbooks

Read more
"Most of the bestselling laptops on Amazon’s computer bestseller list are so-called netbooks, computers which have little memory, are highly compact and more affordable than traditional laptops. Lighter and smaller, they’re largely for mobility and internet use.

Their appearance and popularity are are consistent with trends toward “cloud computing” (e.g., Google Apps) and mobile internet access (i.e., iPhone/Android). Many of these computers run the Microsoft XP OS but many run Linux. Now it appears Android is eying this market as well, according to a report appearing in VentureBeat, which predicts an Android OS netbook by 2010.

Assuming it’s true this marks an interesting development for the open-source OS. Android’s creators have always seen it as a broader platform than for just smartphones. Back when the Open Handset Alliance was announced and Android formally launched in November 2007 there were allusions to non-phone uses of Android."

Google’s Top Ten Products (More Or Less)

Google’s Top Ten Products (More Or Less):
"Can you name Google’s top ten products? If you look at how Quantcast ranks Google’s subdomains, you can get a sense of which Google products are the most popular, since they each have their own subdomain. Google’s main search engine tops the list with an estimated 136.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. Then comes Google Maps (36 million), Image Search (31.7 million), and Gmail (10.5 million). Google Docs, Sites, and Knol are still too small to make the top-ten, but are all showing decent growth.

YouTube, Blogger, and Orkut are not included below because they are on their own domains, but YouTube would be second with 70 million unique U.S. visitors, and Blogger would be in the top 5 with 23.5 million. Orkut is not popular in the U.S., so it would not be a factor in this particular list. And I took out, the domain Google uses to try to catch bots and spyware. It would....

What Do Google Android Netbooks Mean For Microsoft And Apple? (GOOG)

What Do Google Android Netbooks Mean For Microsoft And Apple? (GOOG)

. . . "It's no secret that Google (GOOG) is hoping its Android operating system can be useful for more than just mobile phones. So it makes sense that Google would want to get Android on 'netbook' laptops -- small, lo-fi computers that companies like Dell (DELL), HP (HPQ), Acer, and Asus are selling like hotcakes to geeks and early adopter-types.

If that happens, and Google-powered computers take off, Microsoft is the biggest loser. Early netbooks ran Linux, but today's best sellers run Windows. For instance, the 10 top-selling laptops on Amazon (AMZN) right now are netbooks running Windows XP Home. While selling an XP Home license likely isn't as valuable to Microsoft as selling a Vista Ultimate license, it'd still be losing some potential license sales. And if netbooks start cannibalizing real laptop sales, Microsoft stands to lose market share, too.

What about Apple? The company hasn't joined the netbook market yet -- unless you count the iPod touch, or maybe the iPhone -- but will supposedly start selling larger tablet computers sometime next year. We see no reason why a Google-powered netbook would necessarily be better than an Apple-powered netbook. But they could be cheaper."

Walmart Splits With PRISM - 01/02/2009

from MediaPost Publications
"Walmart is withdrawing from the consortium of retailers, packaged-goods manufacturers and agencies supporting the PRISM in-store media measurement service, the Nielsen Co. disclosed Tuesday.

Nielsen said it will continue work on PRISM (an acronym for Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric), which is expected to introduce a complete metric in 2009. However, the departure of its largest founding member is a setback for the project, one of several high-profile initiatives working in parallel to create new metrics for out-of-home.
. . .

In September, Walmart unveiled a new Internet-protocol Smart Network, the result of a cooperative effort between Premier Retail Networks, Studio2 and DS-IQ, which will continually analyze point-of-sale figures and dynamically update programming and advertising to maximize sale lift.

Premier Retail Networks is responsible for building and operating the IPTV network as well as ad sales. Studio 2 provides custom programming, and DS-IQ is responsible for measurement, analysis and the message optimization strategy. (The roster at DS-IQ, founded in Bellevue, Wash. in 2003, boasts former top tech executives from Microsoft,, RealNetworks and aQuantive).

Shifting into gossip mode, the decision to leave PRISM could also be delayed fallout from the departure of Walmart's former senior vice president of marketing Julie Roehm two years ago. Roehm, who was at the helm when preliminary research for PRISM was performed in spring of that year, was forced out in December 2006 for alleged favoritism in granting ad and media contracts.

She was also said to have clashed with the retailer's powerful merchandising and consumer research and strategy divisions, which were responsible for creating the Smart Network. Walmart did not hesitate to pull the plug on another of Roehm's initiatives: an online media exchange also organized as a consortium.