Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Iran, GM, Journalism, Knight Ridder, and the Postal Service... Strange Bedfellows Make Interesting Blogs

Even the printing industry in Iran can't make money. The article states:
"Some 3,000 printing houses are now operating in Tehran," he recalled, adding that most of the units are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the imbalance in supply and demand...
Of course, the government is stepping in with some money to set up a "printing city" in Dubai. Gosh, the equivalent of Varick Street (NYC) or Printers' Row (Chicago) in Iran? Haven't they heard about the Internet?

Al Ries nails GM's biggest problem: its branding. The cars stink, but if the branding was right, that would at least give a sense of what they should be building. There are marketing lessons in this article for everyone.

Journalism.org has published their State of the News Media 2006 report. It's really only available online. Last year's was an excellent example of what can be done on the Internet when presenting a large amount of information. I highly recommend the site. Lots of data, and not just about newspapers.

Speaking of newspapers, Knight Ridder was sold to McClatchy. For background on the deal, go to http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=bondsNews&storyID=2006-03-13T165652Z_01_N13250658_RTRIDST_0_MEDIA-KNIGHTRIDDER-MCCLATCHY-UPDATE-5.XML
Knight Ridder had an interesting history in new media, bungling its Internet opportunities. It was a pioneer in delivering text over cable TV systems, and its ownership of information services company, Dialog. I've always felt that the reason big companies mangle new paradigms is that they have too much money and too much to protect (the Internet bubble was just too much money). Startups do best when they are forced to make hard decisions about scarce resources, and therefore take more well-considered risks. This article discusses one of the early attempts to get news and information online. I remember it well.

And speaking about newspapers some more, the Newspaper Association of America is stepping up to the plate with a better promotional campaign than its brethren at the magazine association.

The Postal Service is going to allow advertising on stamps. I always liked this "allow" thing. It's in the vocabulary and culture of the institution that is this strange combination of bureaucracy and business. One expression I have always liked was JFK's description of Washington, DC as being a combination of his native New England and the South: "Northern hospitality and Southern efficiency," he used to call it. The metaphor describes so many things so well. I'm so happy the USPS "allows" us to use their service.

Nice little story about PC maker Alienware. See? You can find niches in commoditized markets!

I never knew that forcing people to be their own order-entry clerks was called "customer experience." In that sense, it means that customers are cheaper to hire than cashiers. Forrester says that "A majority of decision-makers said they would increase budgets on analytics and customer behavioral research" The report claims that 65 percent of their interviewees said that "shifting customer interactions to the Web was a top priority." It also said that kiosks, speech recognition applications, and automated phone centers. Automated phone centers? Less money for voice mail hell?

A generally positive article about Computer Associates and how print was critical to their recent ad campaign. http://www.btobonline.com/article.cms?articleId=27321

People stop me at trade shows and thank me for recommending PowerDesk, the replacement for Windows Explorer. It's jam-packed with features that help you manage your files. If you're a PC old-timer and remember X-Tree, Lotus Magellan, and the short-lived Norton Navigator, you'll be pleased to know that PowerDesk is all of these things and more. I just noticed that they now have version 6 up as a free download. It doesn't have all of the features of the paid version, but it is still incredibly useful.
Download it: http://www.v-com.com/product/PowerDesk_Free_Trial.html
See the comparison between free and paid: http://www.v-com.com/product/PowerDesk_Pro_Compare2.html

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