Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Commerce Dept. Revises Print Shipments Data, 1999-2005... Gee, Lemme Guess Which Direction They Revised Them...
And they call me Dr. Doom. I thought about that the other day. I distinctly remember giving executives in the company I was at good news, that the market was growing, and that we wouldn't see any decline in our products (graphic arts film) until the mid 1990s. That was somewhere around 1986 I was saying that. It was good news, and they didn't believe me. Dr. Unrealistic Optimist they would have called me, but I didn't have my Ph.D. yet.
I just report what the data are... they're not good, they're not bad, they're just data. I look for patterns in the data. They're not good, they're not bad, they're just patterns.
Commerce has already revised the first six months of 2005 shipments data down by -$2.4 billion. The total revision from 1999 to 2005 (which was only six months of data) is -$8 billion. All of the monthly revisions they made to 1999 netted out to zero. The shocker is of course the size of the revision to 2005, which is only for six months. The revisions also affected the growth of the industry compared to last year. Prior reports had us growing. Now we're down -2% compared to last year. I won't even bother adjusting for inflation... it's too depressing.
Needless to say, it is not good news. I have had all of my shipments and profits models updated, and will present and discuss the new data at Print05. Where do we go from here? I'll discuss that, too.
Sign up if you haven't at http://members.whattheythink.com/home/p05event.cfm
July '05 Printing Shipments
Commerce data: http://www.census.gov/indicator/www/m3/prel/pdf/s-i-o.pdf
Signup for Print05: http://members.whattheythink.com/home/p05event.cfm
How we now rank with other major manufacturing industries in terms of percentage change in shipments compared to 2004 (current dollars basis):
Petroleum and coal products +29.1
Primary metals +12.6
Computers and electronic products +11.4
Nonmetallic mineral products +9.5
Miscellaneous durable goods +9.5
Furniture and related products +9.4
Nondurable goods industries +8.9
All manufacturing industries +7.3
Plastics and rubber products +7.3
Food products +6.9
Chemical products +6.9
Fabricated metal products +6.8
1st half 2005 current GDP growth +6.5
Electrical equipment, appliances, and components +6.4
Durable goods industries +6.0
Wood products +2.3
Textile products +1.7
Leather and allied products +0.1
Beverage and tobacco products -0.2
Transportation equipment -1.9
Textile mills -5.5
Monday, August 29, 2005
Today's Hot Articles
Adobe's Bruce Chizen comments about the merger with Macromedia
The Container Store has an interesting approach to in-store scanners and RFID
Pitney Bowes white paper about future of mailing
news story http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=33799
report is at http://www.dmnews.com/pdffiles/remoteshopping.pdf
Internet growth slowing (makes a good headline, but kind of ho-hum article)
The new service bureau... rich media gets outsourced!
OpenOffice Beta 2 Released... and What? Using Google Mail for Backup?
Read a great article about using Google's GMail as backup for your work. GMail has 2.5GB of space for free, so it's got plenty of room. This site explains how it's done, and the software that's needed. http://www.viksoe.dk/code/gmail.htm
The article is from the 9/20/2005 issue of PC Magazine but is not up online yet. I'll revise this post as soon as it is.
Friday, August 26, 2005
B2B Ad Pages Not Keeping Up With the Economy
Pages are up +1.79%, which means that ad pages are growing at a rate of about half that of the economy. It's important to note that pages are one thing, but run length of those pages is something else. Those data don't really exist and have to be compiled based on circulation data, which are not always current.
A way to get at things quickly for magazines overall is to look at the postal reports. The third quarter for fiscal 2005 of the postal service data are available at http://www.usps.com/financials/_pdf/Fy2005q3.pdf Year-to-date data start on page 4 of the PDF.
First class pieces are up +0.4% compared to the prior year, but their weight is up +1.5%
Periodicals pieces are up +0.1%, but the weight is at 0%, or no change for those who can't handle the concept of nothingness. This implies that circulation is declining: pieces up, weight stays the same, means more different things, perhaps more pages, but not as many being sent.
The weight of automation presort cards is up by +22%, and pieces is up by +8.4%. Again, the shift to direct mail to drive information access and e-commerce over websites is becoming much more common.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
E-Media and Misunderstanding Print's Flexibility and Scalability
- According to the newly-enhanced 2005 Forecast, technology innovation, the emergence of new media, quickening audience fragmentation, increasing demand for customization and tighter focus on return on investment are collectively causing major shifts in spending patterns and time spent with media. These shifts are expected to drive accelerated growth across all four sectors - advertising, specialty media and marketing services, institutional end-user and consumer end-user - through 2009.
- Communications spending is expected to be the 4th fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy in the 2004-2009 period, expanding at a compound annual rate of 6.7 percent, surpassing the trillion-dollar mark in 2008, and reaching $1.109 trillion in 2009, compared with nominal GDP growth of 6.0 percent during the same forecast period.
- Growth in total communications spending is forecast to be 6.8 percent for 2005, reaching $857.59 billion, following on the strong 2004 growth rate of 7.3 percent.
- After regaining its position as the second-largest sector of the communications industry in 2004 from the consumer end-user sector, advertising spending is expected to remain strong with forecast growth of 6.1 percent to $199.67 billion in 2005, and compound annual rate of grow of 6.8 percent from 2004 to 2009, reaching $260.90 billion.
- Comparably, consumer spending is expected to accelerate in 2005, climbing 7.0 percent to $199.34 billion, and slow slightly during the forecast period to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.3 percent, reaching $252.80 billion by 2009. Growth in advertising is expected to continue to be driven primarily by the migration of advertising dollars from traditional to new media.
- New media advertising is expected to continue to attract advertising dollars in 2005 with forecast growth of 20.7 percent compared with only 3.2 percent for traditional media. During the forecast period, spending on new media advertising is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 16.9 percent, reaching $68.62 billion by 2009, while traditional media advertising is expected to rise only 4.2 percent on a compound annual basis during the forecast period to $192.28 billion.
- Specialty media and marketing services, the largest sector of the communications industry in 2004, is on track for another strong year of accelerated growth in 2005 with an expected 7.0 percent gain in marketing spending to $275.11 billion. Driven by custom publishing, branded entertainment and public relations, the specialty media and marketing services sector is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.7 percent during the forecast period, reaching $355.15 billion by 2009 to remain the largest sector of the communications industry.
I saw an editorial in one of the printing industry magazines that the recent reformatting and circulation cuts at TV Guide shows "print's remarkable ability to move with the times." This is our problem. We've been moving with the times, with lower page counts, decreased frequency, lower circulation. While TV Guide did not decrease its frequency, catalogers and other categories did. It all amounts to less printing. Responding to a decline in demand is not exactly a remarkable ability as far as I can see. Less printing equals less sales dollars, less sales dollars means fewer jobs, less capital investment, and a variety of other problems. The Audit Bureau of Circulations data for magazines shows flat circulation for 15 years, despite an increase in titles, starting well before new media came to marketability. It's sad to say that revelations in the past 24 months cast doubt on circulation data, and the situation may not be flat, but inflated.
There is another issue in terms of media data that need to be addressed. Many media are print-based of course, but it's important to look at the careful phrasing of the data creators. Often you will see the term "measured media." Print's problem has not been with measured media, like magazine or television advertising, it's the unmeasured media of brochures, sales sheets, promotional materials, newsletters, and a host of other printed matter that have borne the brunt of electronic media's effect. The shift to direct mail at the expense of catalogs is also an indication of the shift to shorter runs and lower page counts, as direct mail's purpose is to drive e-commerce traffic. So even print's demonstrated positive capability results in less total print. The true test are the postal data, and it is clear that postal weight or units mailed are not keeping up with real GDP. (Also note above, when you compare the VSS data, keep in mind real GDP growth of 3.5% and current GDP growth of 6.5% and you'll realize that some of the growth rates above are just treading water).
Always keep in mind that e-media is not always the sole culprit. Throughout the 1990s and continuing to today, public relations, events, product placement, and promotions, have been taking dollars from what would have otherwise been print budget items.
Print's ability to "play well with other media" will be one of the keystones to its profitable survival. Before that can happen, print businesses have to play well with other media first.
To create this environment, one has to be able to look at data and events around them in perspective. As I have said many times, the environment has nothing to be feared, but must be navigated by sharp-minded, creative businesspeople, which is part of our industry's entrepreneurial spirit. Confronting realities is the first step. Finding opportunities is next, whether they are print-related or not. Seizing those opportunities with hard-nosed single-minded determination is what differentiates leadership from "plain vanilla" management.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
GoogleTalk: It's Cool
Get the details at http://www.google.com/talk/
CNET's story: http://news.com.com/Google+unveils+instant-messaging+entry/2100-1032_3-5842254.html?tag=nl.e498
You need a gmail account to use it. Gmail is free. If you need an invite to gmail, send a note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you one.
GoogleTalk is compatible with GAIM. For setup, go to
Sound quality is a good as Skype, which as you know if you read this blog, is considerd by me to be STUNNING.
Broadband... it changes everything...
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Profits and Personalization
The inflation adjustment in the release seems clumsy. Why adjust at all and instead use current dollars? GDP growth was 6.5% for the first half of 2005. The PIA survey says print growth was 3.7%. Despite the assertion that the industry is catching up with the economy, it's clear that there's a big difference between 6.5 and 3.7. I still have a preference for using the CPI to adjust prices, but this week's WTT column that will appear this Friday (8/26) touches on the matter. I wrote the column early last week (sometimes I can do that; other times I press the deadline and make the WTT folks sweat; nah, not really, I've been really good about beating deadlines). After the PIA release the upcoming column seems all the more applicable.
Got a personalized piece in the mail today. It was for a trade event, and they had a picture of my potential show badge on the front, and it reminded me to log in and get my badge by registering and planning my trip. This continues a multi-year track record of getting personalized mail that is incorrect. I still have yet to receive an accurate personalized piece that is not a statement or an invoice. In this case, all of my personal information was correct, but I had registered for the event almost four months ago, and I already have my badge. Otherwise, it was a good-looking, well-designed piece, simple and to the point. Would it have been cheaper to miss the target with a static piece? I've asked this question of 1:1 proponents many times, and they continue to shrug their shoulders.
On another matter, Kodak has closed Creo's plate plant. This was no surprise at all. The plant served its purpose: it helped make Creo more attractive as an acquisition target. It served its purpose well.
Print05 --Send Me Questions!
Got a question you'd like me to cover? Send it to me at email@example.com and I'll consider it for inclusion.
If you haven't signed up already, please do so as space may be limited.
I will be at Print05 from Sunday through Wednesday. See you there!
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Dr. Joe's New Toy: A Lightweight Notebook with Heavyweight Features and an Incredible Price
I purchased the Toshiba two years ago to replace the worst computer I have ever owned, the Compaq Presario1600T, which was a sterling example of why there is no longer a Compaq computer business. It was just a horrible machine. This was the one that would turn on again after it was closed. About 15 years ago, I went through 8 Dell notebooks in 10 months, but even that experience could not rival the Compaq's random and often ghoulish misbehavior.
Eric was right, though, the Toshiba is tough to lug around, and is often inconvenient to manage, even though I do have a nice pull-along case for it. I have always wanted a PDA to just to dump text into. I thought it would be my Handspring Visor Prism which would fill the task. I bought it in December 2000. It's still reliable, but since Handspring is gone (absorbed into Palm) the interest in expanding the Prism with nifty accessories is nil. I have a Targus folding keyboard for it. I should have bought two of them at the time, since it is no longer available, and the one I have is on its last legs. It can't run some of the new Palm-based software because the Prism's OS cannot be upgraded. But for its time, the Prism was just great.
I thought I had found my replacement for that and for light computing when Palm released the LifeDrive. As I investigated it, I realized it was not what I was hoping it would be, but the next version might be.
As I shopped over the past few months I saw quite a few Averatec notebooks. They were light, the keyboards had a nice feel, and they looked like they had all the right features. The pricing struck me as too low and that I should be cautious. So I passed them by. Then I started to see reviews in the PC magazines that were quite impressive.
After Eric's comment, I thought that having something light to keep in the car when doing errands or to use in the house as I worked (I tend to move from room to room just to get a change in scenery), the Toshiba no longer had its place. So I decided to search in earnest.
For a mere $670 I bought a refurbished Averatec. This is the model http://www.saveateagle.com/avso32avnomo.html -- it's an AMD 2200+ processor with 512 DDR RAM, a 12" screen, with 802.11g wireless, a 60 GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW! It took me a day to get the software I didn't want off of it and to load it with my perferred programs and utilities (really my son Dan  had the task, for which he was handsomely rewarded). As soon as I had it set, I ran SystemSuite's cleanup and then I made a Norton Ghost disk image for safekeeping. It can't be beat, at least so far. Do I still love my Toshiba. I certainly do. But when I'm on the go, the Averatec will be with me, at least until Palm or someone else gets the LifeDrive right.
One computer I looked at, but did not get, because of the price, was the Sony T350 http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=100000027KFG . After I used the keyboard at a BestBuy, I knew it was not for me. If I had long, thin fingers, maybe, but even then my nearly 50-year old eyes would not have been able to deal with the screen. (Yeah, I know, here I am wanting to buy a tiny-screen LifeDrive and I'm complaining about a notebook screen as being too small).
As far as buying refurbished computers, I have done so at various points for twenty years. It's kind of like that scene in The World According to Garp where a plane flies into the side of a house he's planning to buy. He buys it because it's been "disaster proofed" as the odds of that ever happening again are almost zero. This is known as "gambler's fallacy" http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/gamblers-fallacy.html and I admit that in the case of buying refurbished computers, I am guilty of that behavior. The Compaq was the only refurbished computer I purchased that did not work out. As I later found out, even new it was a dog. May it rest in pieces, because that's the way I left it at the computer recycling center. It just plain fell apart. So if you buy refurbished, just like a car, make sure it was a generally reliable model as a new unit.
Eagle is always running specials on refurbished computers. My online order was processed quickly and was problem free. www.saveateagle.com If you're in the market for a stopgap or interim technology investment, they may have a good deal.
Articles: Google, Newspaper Online Revenue, Economic Reporting, the NYT Finally Learns About Gas Price Inflation
Newspaper online revenue growing significantly
I often write about how the press seems all to anxious to poo-poo good economic news. This report discusses how good economic news is almost always portrayed as having a dark underside.
The idea that "balance" is to be sure you look at things negatively is quite unfortunate. "Balance" refers to policy discussions. Facts should be facts. I can't help but be reminded of the Monty Python sketch called "The Argument," the text of which can be found at http://www.jumpstation.ca/recroom/comedy/python/argument.html
Mere contradiction is not analysis, nor is it "balance." In the end, a strong economy will outweigh its news reporting. But if you report things negatively for a long enough time, eventually you will be right as all things economic have cycles. The adage "a stopped clock is right twice a day" comes to mind.
Speaking of balance, the New York Times FINALLY published a chart showing inflation-adjusted gas prices, and demonstrating that we are not at historic highs.
You can see the chart at http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2005/08/chart_of_the_we_3.html in case the NYT article is not accessible.
The NYT link is http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/13/national/13gas.html?ex=1281585600&en=7f335cd80c208515&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
The graphic is at http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/08/12/national/20050813gas_graphic.html
but you may need to access the article first.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Dr. Joe Has Become A "Frugal" (Cheap) New Englander: He Likes Free Software
Highly recommended is the new book Free Software for Dummies by Mary Leete, which has a list price of $21.99 but is available from amazon.com for $14.95. It highlights numerous high quality programs, like OpenOffice, image editor GIMP, and many more.
I've been playing around with Internet “phone software” Skype, and I have to say that I'm just stunned at the sound quality. It's far better than audio found in some instant messaging software; sound quality is better than cell phone, in my opinion. Strangely enough, Skype's instant messaging is just as impressive. “Calls” are free to other Skype users, and for a small fee you can use it to call other phones. All of the reviews I have read indicate that the phone service is quite good, as well as very inexpensive. http://www.skype.com/
The OpenOffice beta is almost ready for full release, but these developer versions work just fine. Why buy MS Office anymore? This has been one of the most uneventful beta releases I can ever remember; it's been virtually stable since the start. I stopped using the old "stable version" months ago. The built-in PDF and Flash file capabilities make this a must-have. http://download.openoffice.org/680/index.html
When it's finally released (supposedly on September 12), buy it as Sun Microsystems StarOffice 8 and get all kinds of bells and whistles and templates and a generous site licensing program. Or just keep OpenOffice around for its PDF-making. The official version of OpenOffice 2.0 will be out a couple of weeks after StarOffice. The price is right. StarOffice 8 will have a free 90-day evaluation download.
Need to show the responsibilities and timetable of a project? A GANTT chart always helps, and keeps the bureaucrats at bay. Download GANTTProject at http://ganttproject.sourceforge.net/
Surfing the Internet leaves all kinds of unwanted files that just clog up your hard drive. Crap Cleaner is a good program to deal with these and other unneeded files. www.ccleaner.com
Here's my recap of some of my other favorite free software, previously mentioned on this blog...
AbiWord, a nice word processor www.abiword.com
AvantBrowser works "on top" of MS Internet Explorer with built-in ad blockers, popup blockers, many other features; asks for free-will donation; can be set to automatically clean up cookies and temporary files. www.avantbrowser.com
Audio recording and editing is just plain easy with Audacity http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Instant messaging GAIM is just superb, consolidating my AIM and Yahoo Messenger addresses, and can also be used with ICQ, Windows Messenger, and others. Stops all those annoying AIM ads and popups. http://gaim.sourceforge.net/
PowerDesk 5 replaces Windows explorer; if you're an old DOS user and remember Lotus Magellan or XTree or Symantec's Norton Navigator for Windows95, this is is for you. PowerDesk just does things Explorer can't. The full version is PowerDesk 6; if you have the full version of 5, there are no really good reasons to upgrading. For most users, the free version PowerDesk 5 will do just fine http://www.v-com.com/product/PowerDesk_Free_Trial.html
PDF making is easy with if you don't want to use OpenOffice and don't want to buy Acrobat. Just get PDF Creator http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator (PDF making is also part of the WordPerfect Office, and works quite well, but that's not free).
Stop spyware! Get Spybot Search & Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
Get your own fax number and receive faxes on your computer for free with eFax https://www.efax.com/en/efax/twa/signupFree
Not everything in computing life is free. Some things are definitely worth paying for...
Highly recommended is V-Com's SystemSuite6 which replaces the dreadfully annoying and life-complicating Norton SystemWorks. It belongs on every computer, and is $60. http://www.v-com.com/product/SystemSuite_Home.html Site licenses are quite inexpensive. I put it on 5 computers for just $120. If you want a site license, e-mail me and I'll get you the sales contact info.
A reminder that the media mix shift is not all electronic: public relations has been booming for years. The need to get undivided consumer attention has resulted in greater use of event marketing. This article is about use in promotions by computer game makers.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Product Life Cycle, Wireless, Texas Longhorns, Podcasting, and other stuff
Barb Pellow of Kodak had a column in OnDemand Journal about the product life cycle and the concepts expressed in the book "Crossing the Chasm." http://www.ondemandjournal.com/specialfeatures/pellow27.cfm I quickly sent her a note that she had the product life cycle all wrong. Everybody knows that the product life cycle is
- witch hunt
- posting your resume on monster.com
Texas Longhorns issue a video magazine
Great analyst quote: "We find both that the early adoption rate differs completely from the later adoption rate, and that people use things and they just don't like them, and after a year they stop." Duh! You'd think they'd remember when they were little that new toys got played with the most and only a very few toys hung around for a while.
Wireless, all through the house.
Wireless gives new meaning to being "well-connected." Having a home office, I work everywhere and anywhere, and it's great being able to connect anywhere in the house, from the intergalactic headquarters located in the dungeon in the basement, to the deck to the second floor bedrooms. When we built this place 15 years ago, I thought we'd network it, but it was going to cost $10K, so I didn't. I'm glad we didn't. Wireless will now become as common as plumbing for new housing.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Yet More Articles of Interest
A good example of multichannel marketing for magazine subscriptions
Who reads blogs? (you may be one of them, if you're reading this now... ummm.... well, of course!)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
JupiterResearch Forecasts Online Advertising Market to Reach $18.9 Billion by 2010; Search Advertising Revenue to Surpass Display
What's next for the Internet? The Financial Times poses the question to Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and Richard Waters, who writes for the FT from San Francisco.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Today's Articles of Note
Print Ads Get Gimmicky (a story about some interesting things going on with inserts, tip-ins, and some things I can't really describe, other than to say "bubble wrap as an art form")
Broadband could become 50x faster as early as 2006!
Newspapers are competing with Google and Yahoo! Ads, and finally recognize them as competitors
Here's the link to the search marketing company mentioned in the article http://www.quigo.com/
Monday, August 08, 2005
Articles of Interest
The NY Times is integrating its web and print newsrooms. This is a bigger deal than it seems on the surface.
Broadband users turn off the TV (the shifting media mix)
Adobe and Microsoft are about to knock heads as MSFT gets ready to introduce some new products in 2006
Industry writer Richard Romano now has a very entertaining blog. His blog's title, which he claims originates with a joke I instant-messaged to him, is called "Blogito Ergo Sum." And yes, it does seem that unless you blog, you don't exist.
My comments on oil prices in response to a recent Providence Journal article (picked up from the NYT --doesn't anyone have their own reporters anymore?) showed up in their letters section. You've heard it before from me. I don't know how long this link will be valid before they move it to their paid site.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Stunning Employment Report
- +207,000 new jobs in July's payroll data
- +42,000 in new jobs added to May and June in revisions
- +438,000 in the household survey, that's +231,000 more jobs than the payroll survey
The Rodney Daingerfield economy continues...
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Consumer Magazines and Their Web Sites
- Fifty-four percent (54%) of those websites submitted are already profitable, compared with just 26% of those in the 2003 survey.
- ...only 33% fear weak returns, compared to 60% in 2003
- ...55% have increased their online investment in the past 12 months
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
June 2005 Printing Shipments Down
June 2005 printing shipments were down -$94 million compared to June 2004 shipments. On an inflation-adjusted basis, they were down by -$334 million. For the first six months of the year, shipments are up +$254 million in current dollars, but down -$1.1 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis. On the bright side, May's shipments were revised up by +$18 million in current dollars.