Tuesday, May 30, 2006


New Media, Old Media, and de-MSFT-ing Your Life

The Wall Street Journal had a report about how strong profits among manufacturers have been.
Key lines:
Profits are increasing far faster for U.S. manufacturers than for U.S. companies as a whole, aided by a wave of consolidation that has wiped out weaker players, unrelenting cost cutting and a revival of pricing power in some sectors...Companies still find it tough to raise prices to consumers, helping curb overall inflation.
But within manufacturing, those that make important materials and intermediate products are raising prices to other producers, often in an effort to offset their own soaring costs. Many have moved some operations overseas, trimming costs... A surge in U.S. exports, dominated by manufactured goods, also is helping... Manufacturers could also face challenges keeping up profit growth amid rising interest rates, predictions of a global economic slowdown and the continued climb in prices for raw materials, particularly energy... Manufacturing profits almost quadrupled since 2001 on a pretax basis to $208 billion last year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, while profits for all types of companies doubled to $1.2 trillion. Manufacturing profits now exceed the level they reached at the height of the late 1990s economic boom...

Surprise! :) Broadband is a part of everyday life for 84 million residents.
Here's the report from Pew Internet http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/184/report_display.asp

Internet advertising is poised to surpass newspaper advertising in the UK

McKinsey is getting agencies and new media together to develop their sales prospects... ooops..... for the good of the industry, to find a way to monetize new media. Is print at the table?

PC World has an article on the 25 worst PC products of all time http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,125772,pg,8,00.asp
I've had some of them, and I know others who might have had them. Gosh, there were some horrible products in the DOS era. Our first home computer, the IBM PCjr, made the list. I did lots of my doctoral work on it. What I think is funny about it (other than how most of today's PDAs are far more powerful than the PCjr) is that IBM sold over 400,000 of them. Had it come from a startup company, people would have been flocking to its initial public offering. The first Mac portable made the list, and deservedly so. A friend of mine had it, and it should have had wheels. The Mac puck mouse that shipped with the iMac only made the dishonorable mention list. I got carpal tunnel pains just by looking at it. I never understood how Apple could design such superb products but somehow some part of it would always be against natural law.... First on the list? AOL! Their parting shot: "[AOL] has never overcome the stigma of being the online service for people who don't know any better."

Good article on de-Microsofting your life (except for Windows OS; Linux isn't ready yet, and Apple is the best alternative to Windows))
I downloaded the beta of Office 2007, and boy was that awful. It's already off my system. The interface is quite different and is tolerable, and of more value to newbies. Lotus WordPro had more accessible formatting menus ten years ago, and it's been sitting there unimproved for the same number of years (ah, I still miss Lotus Manuscript for DOS; Word did not catch up to Manuscript's features until Word 6.0; Manuscript was abandoned when Lotus bought AmiPro from Samna; AmiPro was a big step back with fewer features than many DOS programs, especially Manuscript). Word 2007 still crashes; I couldn't even get to a blank document without it creating a massive crater. Powerpoint and Excel look okay. I won't be upgrading when it finally is released. I've switched permanently to StarOffice/OpenOffice Writer, I do most of my presentations in Impress, and am working my spreadsheet magic in Calc a little more every day. You can't beat Excel's charting capabilities; I've tried them all and Excel wins hands down. If you're just doing numbers and no pretty pictures, Calc works just fine. SO/OO's ability to save in MS formats has been just excellent.

Friday, May 26, 2006


SmartBrief Has It Right, AOL's Real Failure, NAPL Business Review, Harte-Hanks Makes a Smart Move

SmartBrief http://www.smartbrief.com/signup/ is a publisher that handles e-newsletters for associations and corporations. They do the marvelous Interactive Advertising Bureau newsletter and some of the associations in the industry would do well to hire them. The link above is to sign up to their various newsletters; I selected the page because it shows the wide range of work that they do and the organizations they serve. On that note, the Print Council (not www.printcouncil.org but www.theprintcouncil.org) has not had a press release since March 16, and since that time some great stories are left untrumpeted, such as Hasbro doing its first catalog ever, the continuing rise of direct mail, and the success of the OnDemand Printing show.... after all, it's still printing. The Hasbro story is one that doesn't come around too often, and you have to seize it when it's hot.
Hasbro story http://multichannelmerchant.com/news/Hasbro_catalog_03292006/
Hasbro marketing executive interviewed http://members.whattheythink.com/home/060420.cfm

70% of Americans have Internet access according to Harris Interactive

AOL now says it would have been successful if it had taken Yahoo!'s strategy. What a crock. I killed my AOL subscription because their tech department's answer to every problem was "reload your software" and had no solution for corrupt or lost e-mail files. And how about un-compelling content? Or when you buy things from AOL's direct marketing arm that the products work. Or perhaps online tech support systems that don't crash. Or have people who know where the "on" button is on the computer. A good strategy would have been providing a satisfying customer experience. Do they teach that in MBA programs or do they just teach Microsoft Excel? I don't know a single person who gave up their AOL account who is not now having a joyous Internet life (okay, maybe joyous is overboard, but you know what I mean).

NAPL's new publication, Business Review, arrived in the mail today, and it's quite impressive. All I have is a press release link. Guess what... no PDF or other online version is available... I sent a note to them, and I'll see if they provide one, and I'll be the first to report where one can find it. The hard copy may be intended for the 30% of Americans who don't have Internet access :) Seriously, it's for NAPL members only, so if you or your company is one, get a copy. It's far better than the prior NAPL magazine, and I think you'll find it quite different from the tech and spec content filler that some industry magazines fall prey to. And besides that, yours truly is mentioned in the sidebar in their China story.

Harte-Hanks made an interesting acquisition. Well, maybe not so interesting because it seems so natural to have one of the biggest data base companies buy a direct mail producer. I doubt you'll see printers buying data base marketers. I wonder what InfoUSA or D&B might do. H-H specializes in many niche areas so this probably makes more sense for them, providing one-stop implementation (notice I didn't say "shopping").

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


GDP Revision, Printed Electronics, Newspapers, More Magazine Engagement, Lightning Source, and China Printing

Today's GDP revision for 1Q-06 was +5.3%. Averaging it with the +1.7% of Q4-05 which was affected by the hurricane disruptions brings us to an average of +3.5%, which is above average. Works for me. I'm still looking for +3.25% for the rest of the year.

Printed electronics? Don't hold your breath. It will happen, but not imminently.

Forbes article about the decline of newspapers (again?)

I received more information about that GfK Roper study concerning magazine reader engagement. I even read the whole report. The press release sums it up well.
From the conclusion:
"... Those advertisers who believe that simply showing up in high-engagement publications will translate into high levels of attention to their ads are likely to be disappointed. What will determine the ultimate success or failure of the ad is not the reader’s passion for the publication, but the ad’s creative power to attract attention and speak meaningfully to the reader..."
Yes, there's a reason why good graphic designers and good ad agencies get what they earn. I've always been struck by the comment of some of the graphic arts marketing managers when asked why they're in a certain magazine. "Because our competitors are there," is often the comment. Then, they have an ad campaign with pictures of equipment... just like their competitors. Oh, give me the old Heidelberg ads with the shop owner with rolled up sleeves and holding a press sheet, with a quote at the bottom about what the equipment meant to their shop. They weren't the most creative ads, but they spoke to their target audience quite well. Few ads in graphic publications are compelling enough to arouse the curiosity of their readers. Yeah, I even miss the fat guy overflowing his t-shirt in the ad for printing blankets that said "I'm compressible," and even the old Potlatch paper ad for their "Makers Matte" sheet with the full page picture of the sweaty, dirty face of a coal miner, implying its durability on press. I'm getting old. The industry that prints all the marketing materials has a shortage of creative print marketing. Ouch!

Lightning Source, the ondemand book printer, is expanding in the UK and adding color to its US operation as well.

A bit more about the Chinese printing industry, including the initiative to have "printed in China" on books printed there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A Billion People Online, but Thankfully Not All at Once, and Other Stories

One billion people are online, worldwide; over half have broadband
Press release http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060518/tc_afp/afplifestyleitinternet
How the auto industry, the biggest advertising industry, views it http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/05/18/007345.html

Shop.org and Forrester are releasing a report that forecasts total e-commerce to be $211 billion in 2006 (travel is $73 billion). Good article -- get it soon because DMNews usually pulls the links fairly soon.
For 2006, the two fastest growing categories are pet supplies and cosmetics and fragrances... customers are increasingly comfortable of buying in new categories and especially those you don’t normally associate with online retail... Computer hardware and software, at $16.8 billion, is the largest non-travel category projected this year. Autos and auto parts is next, with $15.9 billion. Apparel and accessories follows with $13.8 billion. Pet supplies and cosmetics and fragrances are expected to post growth rates of more than 30 percent this year -- more than any other category measured by Forrester.
Here's the USA Today article about it http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2006-05-22-online-sales_x.htm

It's incredible.... there's a media mix! Some advertisers are looking to spend offline now that online ad rates are going up! Amazing... ad managers make decisions based on price and the value of expected returns. What a concept.

Magazines ain't what they're cracked up to be when it comes to reader engagement.

Barrons had a good story about Yahoo! (disclosure: I own a modest amount of YHOO shares in a retirement account)
Part 1 http://online.barrons.com/article/SB114808094613158429.html?mod=9_0031_b_this_weeks_magazine_main
Part 2 http://online.barrons.com/public/article/SB114808092001358427.html?
Chart http://online.barrons.com/public/article/SB114808864062358631.html?

Snack foods packaging article; summarizes new Fredonia Group report

The USPS has extended the personalized postage initiative

Shocking! Good content builds readership!

Scuttlebutt has Adobe really hurting QuarkXpress in the marketplace. After all, they're giving InDesign away for free when you really think about the street price of the Adobe Creative Suite. "Everyone" uses Illustrator and Photoshop, so getting the integrated InDesign product at no cost certainly can pique their interest. Now Markzware has a product that converts QXP to InD. http://www.markzware.com/q2id/ Gee, I hope the Scottish Arts Council is doing well. http://www.antipixel.com/blog/archives/2005/09/11/the_new_quark_logo.html But perhaps the old Monty Python sketch could explain what's going on at Quark http://www.ibras.dk/montypython/episode07.htm#5
Meanwhile, Adobe is readying Creative Suite 3 http://news.com.com/Adobe+updates+Creative+Suite/2100-1046_3-6073238.html
which is going to unify the suite to mimic PhotoShop, the most-used program from a market penetration perspective. I remember when Novell tried to make the best Windows spreadsheet at the time, Quattro Pro, look like WordPerfect, and ended up killing both products. Adobe is not dumb enough to do something like that, but it just made me think about my frustration with Quattro 6. It's rare that I send software back and ask for a refund, but I did then. I also did for Acrobat 6, because, strangely, it conflicted with my loveable Logitech iFeel Mouse, which I'm not about to give up. http://news.com.com/2100-1040-244673.html
I never moved to Acrobat 7 because OpenOffice had a great built-in PDF-making capability, and it's free. www.openoffice.org When I called for tech support for Acrobat 6, it was clear that whatever incompatibility there was with the iFeel mouse would not get any priority to be fixed, so I've never tried Acrobat 7 figuring I don't really need it. If you don't want OpenOffice.org, there's also the free PDF Creator http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=57796

Thursday, May 18, 2006


E-commerce & Print -- The Model Still Holds -- And More Articles

Today I got the latest data about e-commerce as a percentage of retail sales data. I analyzed this data series in a previous post http://drjoewebb.blogspot.com/2006/03/do-math-part-2-every-01-increase-in-e.html
Well, for the fourth quarter, this percentage jumped from 2.2% to 2.7% of retail sales. Guess what? The model held true, with an r-squared of 90%. But now it's for every .1 percentage point increase in the share that e-commerce has, the model forecasts a $1.6 billion decline in annual printing shipments. No wonder the fourth quarter was so horrid. E-commerce took a huge leap at that time.

If packaging is such a hot place of printers to move their business, why is Smurfit-Stone selling their consumer packaging business?

Internet surfing up.... especially for real estate, +23%

Can't get enough of ad:tech... here's a summary press release.

Quebecor expects losses, and is cutting jobs

Until 12/31/06, all Skype calls to regular phones are free!

U.S. Book production -18%
Press release http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20060509005247&newsLang=en
More book statistics http://www.bookwire.com/BookIndustryStatistics.asp

Philadelphia approves city-wide wi-fi access
Wi-fi in the home starting to pick up!

So the Philly thing means that you can wander the streets and be homeless and wireless at the same time?

The official press release about the e-paper project I worked on with Vince Naselli, Richard Romano, Bob Sacks

Remember... you can download my PrintFest keynote presentation of 5/12/06 http://www.drjoewebb.com/Dr.JoeatPrintFest2006.html

TURN OFF WINDOWS AUTOMATIC UPDATES! I did years ago, and my computing life has been far less aggravating. Woody Leonhard, PC guru, explains why--- the article is halfway down page of this link

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


PrintFest Keynote Presentation -- Download

The following link is for a .zip file of a PDF of my slides and an MP3 of my commentary.


Monday, May 15, 2006


Read These Now or I'll Storm Your Cubicle

Philly Inquirer story about newspapers looking for revenues online

Interesting story about how specialists in search marketing have other responsibilities... like buying print! Anyone still wonder why you have to court the new media folks?
Story http://www.promotionworld.com/news/press/060508SearchEngine.html
Press release http://www.iprospect.com/about/searchenginemarketingwhitepapers.htm

Can you believe research? This is a short, but good article about how much market research does not reflect the realities of buyer decision-making. Throughout my career I've warned prospects, and even lost jobs, about this very topic. When someone wants to do a survey, I should just stop getting in their way and take the money :) Nah, I couldn't do that.

Catalogers told it's time for "extreme marketing"

Newspapers put the squeeze on print

The Postal Service.... where do I start? Like health care and other industries, prices are not subject to the marketplace and are regulated, if not on an outright basis, on a de facto basis. That means that prices can never fall. Because prices can never fall, there is no incentive to reduce, control, or eliminate costs. Heck, there's no reason to please customers. By law, competitors to the USPS must also not undercut them, so they even affect the prices of FedEx and UPS. One suggestion is to spin the USPS off as a private business and give much of the equity to the employees. None of this will go anywhere, of course. Giving the USPS the ability to raise prices based on the CPI further insulates them from the competition of the marketplace. It's a mess, and earned the avoidance that new media provides.
Citizens Against Government Waste report http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=policy_United_States_Postal_Service
Privatize the military mail? http://www.cagw.org/site/News2?JServSessionIdr012=yqks9j20o8.app26a&page=NewsArticle&id=9488&news_iv_ctrl=1042

E-paper used in a portable DVD player

I keep forgetting to post this 1999 article by economists Julian simon (now deceased) and Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute that describes how much America changed in the 20th century.

My computer batteries are always running out. Finally, a solution is on the horizon. But we dare not recharge in public.

Graph Expo '06 online show and hotel registration is up and running http://graphexpo.gasc.org/register.cfm

Friday, May 05, 2006


WSJ Online 10 Years, Samsung Q1/MSFT Origami Gets Panned, and more...

The Wall Street Journal is celebrating 10 years online and has an interesting retrospective.

WSJ's Walt Mossberg panned the Microsoft Origami (actually the Samsung Q1)
That doesn't mean I still don't want one :)
PC Magazine didn't like it either
Dear Samsung: Please send me a Q1 and I promise I'll like it :)

BtoBOnline 2006 Interactive Marketing Guide now available for free download
See a description http://www.btobonline.com/toc.cms?productId=15
Go straight to the document http://www.btobonline.com/docs/random/img2006-finalb.pdf

Staples and HP make a deal... and Staples is taking dead aim at small commercial printers

There are 694 million people online, worldwide... and they all need viagra, low-rate mortgages, penny stocks, and bootlegged software...
or it can be accessed at http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=849

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Still, Yet More, Lots of Interesting Stuff

Yahoo! has started a new effort to get more local advertising. Local search has not lived up to expectations. It will... eventually... but see the NNA article below....

This, just after the NNA reported how strong local community newspapers are. This has been the only growth area of the newspaper publishing business. The Internet will get them, but it will take a while... and I think these publishers are more likely to respond properly to the threat and get very active in their adoption of web publishing.

By the way, the NNA site is definitely worth one particular industry organization's consideration as a worthwhile goal for emulation. This has become a very good site over the past few months.
Not the organization who should look at this: http://www.printcouncil.org/
The organization that should be cutting and pasting NNA's HTML code like crazy: http://www.theprintcouncil.org/

Vistaprint looks like it may actually try marketing instead of relentless pounding of sales e-mails offering free* printing. It's actually offering a small business webinar!
Sign up and info here

The Microsoft Origami is on its way... and CDW has been selected as the first outlet, with BestBuy to follow.
more Origami news can be found at http://news.com.com/Action+unfolds+in+Origami+PCs/2009-1044_3-6066974.html?tag=fd_nbs_ent&tag=nl.e703

eBook sales data can be found at http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/statistics/2005.htm

Small publishing highlighted in Business Week -- IMPORTANT ARTICLE if you don't have a sense of what desktop publishing and new short-run printing technologies and the Internet can conspire to create.

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