April 5, 2007

Good News, Bad News

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 6:19 am

Good News from Apple:

….. a licensing deal with EMI Music announced on Monday could mark the beginning of major changes in the music industry’s use of copyright-protection software.

The agreement paves the way for EMI to offer its entire digital music catalog free of digital rights management controls on Apple’s iTunes music store.

….. Apple will now set up a two-tier pricing structure on iTunes that would offer DRM-protected tracks for 99 cents a piece, and non-restricted tunes for $1.29 each. The latter would also be available at a higher audio quality of 256-Kbps AAC encoding, which is indistinguishable from the original CD recording, according to Apple.

Bad News:

The most notable exception to the contract is the Beatles catalogue of recordings — a long sought-after prize by Apple’s chairman and chief executive.

Good News, Bad News Redux

Filed under: Business Moves,Marvels — Tom @ 6:14 am

From a subscription-only Wall Street Journal column by Scott McCartney (HT Dean at Hewitt):

WiFi in the Sky: Airlines Prepare Cabin Hotspots
BlackBerrying, Web Surfing Expected Aloft Within a Year;
Cellphone Service May Follow

After years of discussion and delay, U.S. airlines will start offering in-flight Internet connections, instant messaging and wireless email within 12 months, turning the cabin into a WiFi “hotspot.” Carriers are expected to start making announcements around the end of the summer, with service beginning early next year.

The bad news (for some):

The days when airplanes offer a hiatus from being connected to the office are numbered.

Intrusive bosses are in heaven.


UPDATE: Per the FCC — WiFi yes, wireless phones no (phew).

Forbes Magazine Rocks, as Usual

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:09 am

A typical issue of Forbes has lots of items that could be blogged because, unlike Biz Weak, Forbes is a consistently strong and useful magazine.

Here are just a few from the most recent issue (all items require paid subscription).


Steve Forbes on inflation (requires paid subscription) echoes Don Luskin:

The Latest Inflation Numbers main disturbing. The Fed doesn’t need to raise interest rates. It just needs to drain the excess liquidity it created, until the gold price–the best monetary barometer–goes down to the $400 range. But Chairman Ben Bernanke will likely dawdle. And then overreact.


Steve Forbes also notices that mainland China is making moves towards respecting private property rights:

Despite myriad social, political and economic problems, China’s long-term prospects were exponentially improved by the enactment in March of the country’s first law to explicitly protect private property.

….. Without a more secure body of property rights, China’s impressive boom inevitably would have wound down as innovation and entrepreneurial risk-taking withered. Instead the burgeoning middle class will become wealthier and feel more secure about the future–and will thus be more independent-minded. All this bodes well for future liberalization of Chinese politics.

….. The Chinese property rights law aroused fierce opposition inside and outside the government from still-strong leftists. Perhaps the powers that be had read and taken to heart De Soto’s classic work The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, in which he discusses how crucial secure property rights are to achieving prosperity.

Mao is spinning in his grave. Too bad, so sad.


Talk about a radical restructuringSanford Ikeda advocates breaking up New Orleans into a number of smaller independent villages. Good idea; Ikeda says that “voting with one’s feet wouldn’t necessarily mean leaving the city.” Does anyone want to argue that the typical large city is better run than the typical medium-sized suburb?

March 2007 Car Sales: The Song Remains the Same

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 6:04 am

The rundown (mostly from AP, not adjusted for number of sales days in the month):

  • General Motors — down 4%
  • Ford (from a CNN e-mail) — “Ford U.S. sales down 9% in March, less than double-digit percentage it forecast.”
  • DaimlerChrysler — down 4.1%
  • Toyota — up 11.7%
  • Honda — up 11.3%
  • Nissan — up 7.8% (but truck sales declined)
  • Hyundai (from Biz Weak) — up 0.5%

March 2007 had 28 days, while March 2006 had 27, so the sales per day declines for the Big Three are even worse than they appear above.

Positivity: ‘Miracle’ survivor reunited with rescuers

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Glendale, AZ:

Mar. 15, 2007 04:17 PM

She beat the odds last year by surviving a heart injury that is almost always fatal.

Yet Laura Graff, a 24-year-old Glendale woman, was very much alive Thursday as she greeted rescuers and thanked them for saving her life.

“I’m in constant pain, but it’s great to be here,” she said.

Dr. Chris Salvino, a trauma surgeon at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital, said Graff received excellent emergency-medical care before and during her hospital stay.

“Overall, the reason she is here is because it was a miracle,” Salvina told Graff and well-wishers who gathered at a Glendale fire station, 9658 N. 59th Ave., not far from a crash scene where Graff was struck by a hit-and-run motorist.

In fact, her heart stopped beating on her way to the hospital, said Elio Pompa, a deputy Glendale fire chief.

Pompa described Graff’s ordeal as an “incredible story of survival,” made possible by firefighters, ambulance workers and medical-care providers who rushed to her aid.

Mark Burdick, the Glendale fire chief, agreed, saying things came together to spare her life.

The crash occurred Sept. 23 when Graff was struck near 59th and Peoria avenues while out riding her motorcycle.

She suffered multiple facial, pelvic and other injuries, including a torn aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to all organs.

Salvino, the trauma surgeon, said the injury is fatal in all but one or two percent of cases, so Graff really beat the odds.

Graff now walks with a cane because of lingering hip problems from a broken pelvis.