Monday, October 31, 2011

'Gossip Girl,' other CW shows coming to Hulu

Hulu is a popular website that allows people to watch TV shows, movies, clips, and trailers at any time, and with HuluPlus one can watch shows almost immediately after they air by paying a monthly subcription. Previously, Hulu featured shows from ABC, NBC, Fox, and Univision, but recently signed a deal with The CW and will now include them. Hulu now features shows from five of the largest six broadcasters, CBS being left out. Some shows on Hulu can be viewed freely, but others require an $8 per month subscription for HuluPlus. Under the subscription for HuluPlus, viewers will be able to get the five most recent episodes from The CW the day after they are broadcasted on television. Those same episodes will appear on Hulu 8 days later for a free viewing experience. Both versions, Hulu and HuluPlus come with ads, yet those ads are much shorter than commercials on TV, lasting only about half the time as regular commercials. For many, Hulu has several benefits that make it preferable over regular television. Shows can be viewed at any time during the day, and the commercials are significantly shorter. They can also be paused and picked back up at any time, and can be viewed portably on laptops. Hulu hopes to attract many more uses by adding The CW, targeting young women age 18-34. Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries are both shows on The CW and are widely popular among young women. Hulu hopes by adding a larger selection of shows to their library, they will receive more subscriptions, and therefore pulling in larger revenue. For the consumers, they must consider the costs and benefits of subscribing to Hulu. The benefit of subscribing to HuluPlus is that it would allow consumers to view the show immediately after it airs. The benefits also include shorter ads, and to ability to view the show whenever it is desirable. However, the cost would be $8 a month, or nearly $100 a year. It is all up to the consumer: Is it worth paying $96 a year to view the show 8 days earlier? Does the cost outweigh the benefit?

- Christina B

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Trucks in DFW

There's a new business that has become rapidly popular in the DFW area in the recent year, and it's different than any restaurant at which the average consumer has dined. They're called food trucks; they sell gourmet asian cuisine to homemade BBQ sandwiches directly from mobile restaurants that travel on the roads of Dallas daily. The food truck explosion has drawn attention with its uniqueness and affordable yet delicious food. Parish even hired Ruthie's Rolling Cafe to serve their "finest melt in your mouth grilled cheese sandwiches" at the recent senior tailgate. Although they seem relatively new to consumers in DFW, food trucks attempted to begin the trend early last year. So why didn't this business take off quicker? Many of the restaurants on wheels struggled the most with obtaining parking permits from the city of Dallas. The city believed these trucks would be a menace to firms that they would park in front of, not only taking up parking spots but also their customers. In other words, the level of competition would be thrown off by these food trucks, who would have an unfair advantage by parking in front of smaller shops while taking customer's of these stores parking spots. However, when Michael Siegel paved the way with his Green House Truck, it was proven that the attraction of the mobile restaurants helped increase the profits of the jeweler it was located in front of. The City of Dallas began granting more parking permits to different kinds of food trucks such as Jack's Chowhound and Ssahm Korean BBQ. Now these trucks travel around DFW selling food to hungry customers that are seeking out a new experience and savory food!

-Natalie J

Yoga: the zooming business of Zen

The yoga industry has greatly expanded in the past years, and is expected to hit $6.5 billion in 2011. Between 2006 and 2011 it experienced tremendous growth, with an average annual sales growth of 9.5%. A large number of yoga businesses have been started because of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are ambitious leaders who take risks by investing their own money to create new goods or services. In the case of Micah and Desi Springer, they took a risk in opening up a yoga company, which ended up pulling in great profit for them. They started their company in their basement, and later expanded and bought a small building to hold classes. Yoga businesses don’t have to spend an outrageous amount of money on fixed costs, which are costs that don’t change such as rent or purchasing a building. Yoga buildings and spaces are often small because people like a quiet and intimate atmosphere when practicing yoga. They have low operating costs as well, consisting mostly of electricity bills and teacher wages. Because they have such a low and simple operating cost, they can easily hire people by thinking at margin. They can easily add one more additional unit if necessary. If the business is doing well and there are many more people coming in to take classes, they can hire one more teacher, or they can hire 4 more teachers based upon the increase in customers. This is exactly what they did. As entrepreneurs, the two girls started out with just themselves as teachers. As their business grew, they hired the number of teachers they needed to to keep up with demand, adding more teachers as more customers came. Their company now employs 40 teachers. The story of the Springer sisters is a great example that demonstrates entrepreneurship, fixed and variable costs, and marginal thinking.

- Christina B

In-N-Out Shipping Service

Midnight Row, a luxury deal website, is now offering an overnight delivery of two of In-N-Out's double-double burgers for $50.00 plus shipping costs. The burger is in such high demand that people are willing to pay as much as a nice steak dinner for a FAST FOOD BURGER. With In-N-Out opening in Texas on May 11th, I have had the opportunity to try the hamburger. The burger is very good, but nothing to go crazy over. I even think that What-a-burger's burger is the same if not better. I also have to question the health of eating a burger that is shipped in the mail. It is hard to believe that a fast food chain has raised such high demand, but after the restaurant expands into more states I think the demand will lower. Before the openings in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, In-N-Out could just be found in California. I believe the source for high demand is the lack of shops established. Once In-N-Out restaurants spread more to the east, I'm sure the service of shipping In-N-Out burgers will disappear along with the obsession.

Online Commercial Experiments

Ads always get in the way of the show the viewer is trying to watch. Hulu and Youtube are experimenting new ways to make the ad watching process somewhat easier. These websites business models really depend on advertising and cannot afford to lose viewers just because of annoying advertisements. Hulu and Youtube are giving the viewer the option to chose which ad to watch. For shorter videos, Youtube gives a skip option. Advertisers are only charged when users watch the whole video. The newest strategy for advertising is creating that people want to watch or even look forward to watching. Commercials like Old Spice and Dos Equis send people to the Internet to watch them over and over again. Viewers have to make a trade-off of what advertisement they want to watch and it sometimes can be difficult. I for one choose not to even mess with online video, except clips on Youtube. My family chooses to pay for a DVR so we don't have to mess with online searching. I think DVR is also better because no Internet is required and there is no buffering to deal with. Also ads can be fast forwarded through in a second.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The College Loan Crisis

Since the very first steps in education our minds have been driven toward a path of honor, excellence, and responsibility, so that one-day we might land in a good college and have the possibility of a secure future. However, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. Today, many people have been subject to a very tricky system that is placing a crutch on the youth of America. This system is otherwise known as College Loans. The problem that many people are facing today is that they cannot leave college behind and move on with the future due to incredible debts and unpaid fees to educational institutions. The problem is continuing to grow, becoming a crisis in the economy because college education is very expensive and if not paid timely then interest sets in and more and more debt accumulates over time. Many Americans have reached the point where their college bills are consuming their income, happiness, and ultimately their whole life. The overall student loan default rate jumped 27 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to the latest government figures, increasing from 7 percent of all loans to 8.9 percent. Most alarming was the 31 percent spike in defaults among those who attended for-profit colleges, where the default rate reached 15.2 percent of loans. This is significant because the evidence for this growing crisis is evident yet many people are still suffering greatly. Ever persistent college debts are taking over the lives of youthful Americans and not enough is being done about it. The system that allows loans to be given to college students needs serious improvements that help guarantee that debts don’t reach a level that can’t be fixed. College’s need to take a closer look at who they loan money to and how that money is repaid.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Space Shuttle: Economic Destruction or Potential?

With the last space shuttle being taken apart, more and more NASA employees are being laid off due to the lack of the Space Transportation System, or STS, program.The loss of over 3000 highly-educated workers, not including the construction workers who design and build the facilities, now being laid off, there is an ever expanding group of the educated unemployed. Even though NASA's STS program is now in its dying breaths, the United States is still the world's leading nation in space technology. This is because companies like Direct TV, Dish Network, Sirius Satellite Radio, AT&T, and other communication companies use space systems on a daily basis. Companies that use these technologies, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Space X, and others are hiring  these unemployed NASA workers to help design the future Space Launch Systems. One of the closest manned launch systems currently is the Falcon-9/Dragon program. The Falcon-9 and the Dragon program both were designed by ex-NASA workers. While NASA is shrinking due to less government funding, the private space industry is growing and space tourism is closer than we think.

Are the costs of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars worth it?

Year by year we hear about the costs of the wars overseas, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question that is on everyones' mind is, is it worth the billions of dollars in tax payers money to try and keep peace in a foreign country? The estimated total cost since the start of the war in 2003 is $750 billion. Several factors have contributed to these costs. For example, the helicopters, the tanks, the warships, the trucks, the fuel to run them, the troops salaries, the cost of rebuilding Iraq, etc. Economists are working tirelessly to come up with theoretical figures for the final cost of the war. Some estimates put the total cost over $2 trillion. A more conservative estimate puts it at a little more than $1 trillion. These costs have greatly effected our economy and our every day lives. Most Americans are asking themselves if it's all worth it.

The 53%

They call themselves the 53% because they are the 53% of Americans that pay federal income taxes.  They are a backlash group that backlashes the “occupy wall street” movement.  The people that are occupying Wall Street are asking for government handouts.  The argument that the 53% group makes is, "We don't want to be the 53% who carries the 47% on our shoulders," says Gardner, a member of the 53% group.  The people on Wall Street don’t have jobs and don’t pay income taxes, “they are a parasite to America”.  Gardner tells his story, “My wife and I decided in 1996 that we were sick of poverty.  We went back to school.  We earned degrees.  We got a job.  No one handed that out to us.  We earned it.  We did it.”  His point is that it’s up to you to work hard and get a job even if it’s not the job that you want at least it’s a job.  The “53%” group blames the 47% of Americans who pay zero dollars in income taxes.  How is America Supposed to recover if only half of Americans are contributing?  The Occupy wall street members are also pushing for heavier taxes on the rich, aka the hard workers, but how can they demand this if they aren’t paying a dollar of taxes?  Why should they get to vote if they don’t contribute to society? These people on Wall Street don’t understand how economics works, if they worked hard, got jobs, and started paying taxes the economy could start recovering.

G.D.P. in America has Modest Growth

Although it may not seem like it to many Americans, America's economy is growing says this New York Times article titled “Economic Growth in U.S., Though Still Modest, Speeds Up”. From the second quarter to the third the G.D.P. increased 1.2%. Although that may not seem like much, that’s coming from a gradual 1.3% to a 2.5% growth in the third quarter. One of the most important questions to ask is where is this growth coming from? In this situation the main source of the growth is the consumer spending. Consumer spending in the economy has increased by 2.4%. This news is excellent because for the 25 years before the recession of 2008, the U. S. economy grew at a rate of 3.25% per quarter. Ian Shepherdson, the chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics, says that he wants the growth to eventually be at 4% but coming from 1.3%, he is fine with the improvement and he sees more improvement to come hoping to be around 3% of G.D.P growth soon. Even though the growth does sound promising many specific markets are still struggling. For example, the housing market continues to struggle with house values remaining low.

Can gripping the court make a significant difference in the game of basketball?

A company called Mission AthleteCare is trying to make a difference in the newest problem area that these athletes are facing today.  Dwyane Wade is a supporter and an endorser of the Mission AthleteCare company and is also trying to make a difference with the problem of griping the court. He had this to say about the issue at hand, "You could talk to any basketball player, any athlete, it's a huge problem," Wade told CNBC. "I can name some arenas that I go to and I have to adjust my game. If you know my game, it's all about traction, about changing direction, it's about explosion." Wade is trying to innovate the game and help him and his teammates out for the games to come in the future. The real question is, will this new equipment actually make a real difference when it comes to game time? Also, will gripping the court make a big enough impact, that it could potentially change the outcome of the game? Dwyane Wade certainly thinks so, he just hopes it will help him get passed the big German guy standing in his way on the path to the finals.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Decline of Netflix

Reed Hasting’s company, Netflix, has suddenly taken a big hit. Until now, Netflix has been flourishing. In July, the price of Netflix stock was around $300. Currently, it is trading at $79. What an outrageous drop! Along with the price change, Netflix has approximately lost 800,000 subscribers ion comparison with last quarter. Why has this happened? The old Netflix plan included Internet streaming and DVDs by mail for as low as $10 a month. In September, this same package costs $16 a month. Since there is such a high demand for Netflix a price increase is inevitable. Netflix has been growing non-stop and with this comes more expenses to pay. Paying $10 a month was not enough to keep Netflix running. The company needed more money to license additional material for online services. Reed Hastings increased the price too much in a short period of time and this startled subscribers. His price increase strategy was very poor in which he scared off customers. Even though Netflix is in a shaky position, I think eventually the company will rise back up. Netflix has little competition in online streaming and is by far the best quality.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Manolo Blahnik

As Homecoming quickly approaches, most girls that attend can tell you how important the right pair of shoes can be. Just how much is someone willing to pay for the perfect pair of shoes? In the mind of Manolo Blahnik, consumers should be willing to pay several hundred to over a thousand dollars a pair. In 2007, Women’s Wear Daily wrote an article on Manolo Blahnik in which they canvassed two thousand consumers about their buying habits. Out of all these women, 37% agreed they would gladly jump off the Golden Gate Bridge for an unlimited supply of Manolo Blahnik shoes. Clearly, their willingness to do something so senseless for a lifetime full of expensive shoes proves that these shoes cannot be found at Target or Payless; they're considered a luxury good. Shortly after this article was written, however, Blahnik’s name and label plummeted. Competition had arisen in the shoe market, making it much more difficult to sell his ridiculously priced shoes at such a high cost. Christian Louboutin, for example, stole a huge chunk of the shoe market which had once belonged to Manolo. Louboutin’s signature red sole indicates a high price and generally a fairly wealthy consumer that bought them, and although the apple red sole seems extremely simple, it was an excellent advertising technique that played a vital role in the success story of Christian Loubitan. Though Louboutin’s popularity has soared even in this sluggish economy, it appears Manolo is back in the game. While Louboutin’s are known for their over-the-top designs, Manolo’s have the reputation of being not only stylish but fairly comfortable. One of Manolo’s particular styles boasts a waiting list right now. Retail analysts believe the current demand for Manolo’s is a very encouraging sign for the economy. It appears the upper end of the market is driving much of the retail growth. The luxury market is strong, which is certainly good news for Manolo Blahnik!

Natalie J

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rangers Demand Shift

As the Texas Rangers enter the World Series, demand for the team's tickets increase.
"Rangers managing partner and CEO Chuck Greenberg told reporters that the bulk of the increase would be felt in premium seats and that some seats in more affordable areas would remain the same or even drop."
As the demand increases you would think that the management team for the Rangers would increase the prices of all the seats in order to make a larger profit.
There is an excess demand causing disequilibrium in this particular shift. They can't produce more seating in the stadium. Increasing prices for the premium seats pushes back to equilibrium. A secondary market would come into play if there was no increase in price for seats. Scalpers would purchase and re-sell them for a greater price.
By the team strategically planning their pricing it creates tougher competition for other teams.

Budgeting Hurts the Bridal Industry

When women were little girls, they always dreamed of their perfectly made wedding gown. But in todays economy, budgeting and the less forgiving economy have made many couple's dream weddings not quite what was expected. In many cases, couples who may be expecting a new baby would need to keep baby's best intrest in mind as well. The trade off of a dream wedding or a cute ducky lined wall paper for a baby room are decisions many are having to make. A survey taken by the National Association of Catering Executives concluded that 48% of people polled said that they were spending less than they would have expected on their wedding. While affluent Americans have shown little change in the amount spent on weddings, budgeting families are now looking for less costly options. Destination weddings are no longer as popular, and a custom made dress is not always an option for these spending friendly families. This has really influenced the way Bridal companies have been marketing goods. Less expensive lines have come out, Vera Wang's "Lavender Label" is a cheaper alternative to the usual four to five figure prices of her luxury line. These prices appeal to more consumers, and more units can be sold. Many other bridal companies have followed the trend: A budeget line of gowns. While weddings are always happening, companies are still coming up with many creative ideas to keep their products in demand.

Monday, October 17, 2011

the death of steve jobs

After a long battle for survival, steve jobs passed away at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer. Steve died october 5th and it is rumored he died surrounded by his closes relatives. This modern day genius greatly impacted the way the world operates through technology. his death has popped a question into many peoples head; how will his death effect apple? many people have assumed that apple stocks might have a sudden raise in because of the collectible market of steve jobs death. jobs' memorabilia hasn't caused any major increase in apples stock and probably won't.  the main worry of most is that apple will no longer reign as the most technologically advanced company because of his death. they fear that man inventions such as the mac, ipod and iphone will be no more. since his death apple stock has remained fairly constant and the company has hopes the the release of the iphone 4s and iphone 5 will once again raise apple's stock.

Aquaponics and Agriculture

Aquaponics is a relatively new technology that presents potential solutions for increasing issues concerning energy efficiency, food production, and water recycling. In recent years many people have suffered greatly from natural disasters and economic downturns on a worldwide scale. More and more of the population simply cannot afford the cost of food, clean water, and energy. Aquaponics can solve all these problems. It can reduce at least one fourth of the cost of food by removing transportation and gas fees from the overall equation. It can produce locally grown agriculture in a water conserving cycling process. In a nutshell, an aquaponics system can produce urbanely grown organic produce, fresh water fish, and clean reusable water all in a self-sustaining system that is completely energy efficient. As a representative of the Environmental Science and Marine Biology research club, I find this idea revolutionary. It could possibly provide a new begging for the poverty-stricken people of Africa or perhaps provide relief for people devastated by natural disasters. Aquaponics is the future of agriculture and energy efficiency. All we have to do is integrate these systems in society and spread the word of this potentially life altering technology.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The USPS having problems with Unions

The United States postal service has been a very profitable and successful organization for many years, but in recent years it appears that unions have The USPS in a strangle hold.  The USPS has tough competition with UPS and FedEx and is starting to fall behind because UPS and FedEx have managed to avoid harsh Union regulations.  The USPS is struggling with a massive deficit in mail volume.  Most companies in this situation would lay off employees to remain profitable, but due to Union restrictions managers are not allowed to lay off employees so there for the USPS is forced to spend 50 million dollars a week to pay employees to literally sit in a room and do nothing because there is simply not enough work needing to be done.  The average postal employee makes 85,000 dollars a year which is way too much to even make since.  The only reason The USPS is able to keep their prices at a competitive level is because they have the advantage of the government, a home field advantage.  The government allows the USPS to have a slight monopoly and passed legislation allowing the USPS to forgo $4 billion in payments to retiree health benefits.  The ultimate goal for the US government is for the USPS to get back on top as the main postal service and free from government aid and Union restrictions.

-Jack Leonard