Why don’t Verizon, AT&T take care of “roaming” customers?
While I understand that market conditions and regulations keep Verizon and AT &T, the two biggest carriers, from covering every RV Park and city in America, I don't understand how they can leave their millions of customers in the dark when they are out of those companies' service areas. Don't they understand that free roaming is critical to keeping the millions of their customers who travel happy when they're away from home?
Verizon phones and its MIFI card don't connect in Colter Bay, WY, or West Yellowstone, MT. And the very nice West Yellowstone KOA isn't able to provide Internet connections via TengoInternet, a service used by many RV Parks. Even a dumpy little Cooke City, MT, motel we had to check into after a pass was closed due to snow had an unworkable internet as well as no Verizon.
In the Fairmont RV Park at Anaconda, MT, just west of Butte, we finally got a weak Verizon MIFI signal that we both could use.
All of this has been very frustrating for a political news junky like me who also is trying to keep up with the NBA playoffs and the stock, money and commodities markets.
When you have to do a hard shut down of your iPhones and Mi-Fi in Wyoming and Montana, you know that Verizon doesn't take care of rural America. RV park neighbors seem to be online with AT&T, and they say their phones get three bars. While three bars doesn't mean much, being able to make phone calls and get on the Internet does.
DW says, get used to it. You're in the boondocks and you're headed to Canada and Alaska where Internet connections will be just as bad. She's probably right.
Meanwhile, we're reading books and writing our journals. It's beautiful and peaceful here, and we'll enjoy it while we can.
e-commerce • Quality • Technology • Phones • Vacations • Permalink
How political candidates must engage voters online
Republicans are starting to figure out how they can match the Obama campaign's online political machine, Politico reports. As far as I could tell, the GOP had and has no online game. They're starting from zero. My thoughts:
1. Find and support bloggers and commenters who can compete with Obama's online advocates and thugs. Romney got very little online support because he despises the media, bloggers and anyone who can think.
2. Recruit social media candidates, not folks who tweet news releases and polite platitudes the way Mitt Romney did and most Congressional candidates do.
3. Teach the congressional candidates who can write and who have the smarts to debate online to engage folks on FaceBook, twitter and the comments sections of their local papers and broadcasters.
4. Make sure that candidates write their online posts and are online whenever they aren't fundraising or meeting voters. Social media only works when there are two-way conversations and numerous respondents to candidates' posts.
5. Exploit databases that allow them to target supporters with relevant content, messages and fundraising appeals.
6. Beef up candidates' web sites. Publish candidates' goals, positions on issues, speeches, articles, and important posts along with supporting documents, bills, laws and regs. Go for the opinion leaders who use the web site4s to identify the candidates they will support.
7. Make sure that everything written, printed, published and said by a candidate includes several hard sales pitches for relevant social media, e-mail and web pages where voters can learn more and talk to the candidates.
8. Make candidates read their Facebook and twitter threads as well as comments about them by readers of sites like Politico, Daily Caller, FreeBeacon.com, WSJ.com, WashingtonPost.com, and on their local media web sites. Connect with voters by engaging them and showing that you have the guts to take risks for them.
9. Show people who comment and blog for a candidate that they're being read and heard by responding to them online and quoting a few of them in speeches and articles. Do something to show you're not in a sound proof, windowless bubble. Get people (not paid pundits or your paid online advocates) excited about being on your team.
10. Get political communications consultants out of the way. We don't believe them nor do we want to hear from them. If a candidate can't give a decent speech, write and engage voters online, that person shouldn't be in politics and will have a hard time winning an election. Ask Mitt Romney. He could give a C speech and write a B article, but he got an F from voters because he didn't engage or communicate with them. He never showed he was learning from the campaign.
GOP seeks to up its online game, by Emily Schultheis
Campaign Mgmt • Consultants • e-commerce • Marketing and Sales • Blogging • Promotions • Permalink
Facebook, Twitter, WSJ.com, Politico.com, DailyCaller.com violate your privacy
Facebook privacy continues to be a problem on WSJ.com, Politico, Daily Caller and other sites. When you recommend an article via FB, you get an opt-in request that says if you use the FB connection, you give WSJ.com or whatever site access to the names of your friends, your profile info and more. The sites sell this info to marketers and spammers.
If you click "don't allow" the connection is cancelled. I don't use the FB connection on WSJ.com because I don't trust News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and Fox News. The WSJ.com comment section also is programmed to invade your privacy and often requires a new log in even though you're logged into wsj.com. It's all very frustrating to me.
Similarly, I don't use Yahoo.com's Facebook connection.
FB and the sites that want you to recommend their articles to your FB friends say that they're not violating our privacy because our Friends and profile info are available to anyone who checks us out on FB. I believe only we should know who our FB and Twitter friends are. Our friends' names should be confidential, imho.
I haven't signed up for Google+ because it wants access to all of my info and the right to sell that info just like FB and Twitter do.
e-commerce • Ethics • Trust • Marketing and Sales • Blogging • Permalink
Republicans blast Democrats for anti-small business Amazon tax
The Democrats’ “Amazon Tax” has put them on the defensive in Colorado’s legislature where the Republican minority is demanding that the anti-small business tax be repealed immediately. Tax and spend Democrats are trying to blame Amazon, not their tax, for dropping its Colorado affiliates because of the tax. As an Amazon customer who’s never bought anything on Amazon.com through an affiliate, I really don’t care. As a retired small business owner who was an Amazon affiliate and found the relationship worthless, I really don’t care. As a small-government conservative, I find it amazing that Colorado Democrats are so willing to offend Colorado’s small business owners and their workers. Why are the Democrats so willing to tag themselves as the anti-small business party? Are Democrats and their union supporters trying to help big businesses by driving the mom and pop shops out of business? Are they just trying to put more people on unemployment so they can pretend to help them with more expensive unemployment benefits? Please click on the headline to see my questions about the tax, Amazon and affiliates:
Colorado • Budget • Legislation • Politics • PPC • e-commerce • Read More
What will replace metro daily newspapers, mass communications?
The more I think about the death of metro newspapers, the more I try to figure out what entrepreneurs will come up with to replace them.
We’re seeing more than the death of metro dailies. We’re seeing the end of so called “mass communications.”
While consumers are spending less time reading newspapers and the national networks’ nightly news programs, they’re spending more time searching for more news about the iPhone, Apple, Dell, specific hi-tech games and toys and their professions, employers and industries.
And the internet allows Yahoo, MSN, Google, craigslist.com, eBay, Monster.com, careers.com and many other pay-per-click and auction sites to put readers in touch with advertisers who want to reach them.
So if you have a clean sheet of paper, $300 million in venture capital from investors who won’t put you deep in debt, what kind of business would you create to help advertisers reach their prospects and customers and consumers to find what they want to buy, keep informed about and discuss?
Would you follow CNN, which is considering taking on the Associated Press and Reuters, which are the primary national news providers?
Would you try to create a local news and advertising vehicle that focuses on community news and merchants rather than trying to cover a whole metro area?
Would you create an all news and commentary sight like a blog and count on readership that would make running Google’s Adsense profitable?
Or would you create an all advertising business that goes after local niches such as entertainment, foods, real estate, autos, sports and health care?
Maybe you’d try to do all of the above. If you could pull it off, you might have a local monopoly that would be close to legal. If you did parts of the service poorly, you could fail.
Who will be the first movers? Who will let others innovate and then come along with a better business plan? Who will be the Dairy Queen and who will be the McDonald’s, the Sears vs. the Walmart?
McDonald’s and Walmart are successful not because they invented fast food restaurants or retail discounting, but because they executed their plans so much better than their competitors.
In the communications world, the next big idea is still to emerge, much less a McDonald’s or a Walmart.
We still have the old fashioned, ancient, obsolete mass communications companies trying to re-invent themselves. We’ve yet to see a real innovator that will take us to the next generation beyond newspapers, network news, nightly news, weekly magazines, blogs and social networks.
I’m thinking the new communications entrepreneurs will begin to make their moves during the next 36 to 60 months. With the economy and credit markets in the dumps, the time is ripe.
e-commerce • Economy • Media • Financial Media • Newspapers • Marketing and Sales • Advertising • Permalink
Small businesses looking like weak customers
Small businesses are looking like weak customers to a wide variety of banks, credit card companies and software vendors.
American Express (AXP) reported that its survey of small businesses found that some 18% of their owners fear they are on the brink of failure. And 63% say they’re having a harder time accessing credit, up from 50% in August, Reuters.com reports here.
Reuters also reported that Goldman Sachs (GS) downgraded Netsuite (N) and Salesforce.com (CRM), which sell online accounting and contact tracking software to mostly small and medium-sized businesses.
The Wall Street Journal last Tuesday published an even more bearish story on N, CRM, RightNow Technologies (RNOW), Concur Technologies (CNQR) and Taleo Inc. (TLEO), which serve small and medium-sized organizations.
It also could have listed Adobe (ADBE) and Intuit (INTU), which sell software to small businesses.
And what about Jack Henry & Associates (JKHY), which sells software to small, independent banks that deal primarily with small businesses?
Daily charts for these stocks are here. Click on a chart for a gallery of charts.
I don’t own any of these stocks.
For educational purposes. Investigate before you speculate.
Banks • e-commerce • Small Business • Speculation • Fundamental Analysis • Stocks • Permalink
Microsoft (MSFT) missed its earnings target by a penny; lowers outlook for the year; stock falls 6%
Microsoft (MSFT) saw its stock drop 6% in after hours trading after it reported disappointing earnings for the second quarter and lowered its earnings and revenues forecasts for 2008, Reuters reports here.
That MSFT disappointed speculators is shown in these charts.
Before the earnings release after the close of trading, MSFT gained 26 cents a share to $27.520 in anticipation of a positive earnings surprise. As a result, the daily chart indicates a bullish breakout, but that’s not likely to hold long. The stock’s weekly and point and figure charts are bearish with a price objective of $25.
On a call with analysts, a Microsoft executive said he thinks the stock is too cheap and MSFT might speculate on its own future by buying some of the stock. However, corporate executives often misread the markets and lose a lot of money for their companies when they buy their own stocks before they bottom out.
Like many other stocks of companies dealing with what Microsoft characterized as tough economic times, MSFT is on sale, and chances are good that the stock will be cheaper before it recovers.
Despite the market’s recovery over the last couple of days, it’s still in a bear market that could last for months.
I don’t own MSFT but my investment club does.
For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.
Google (GOOG) disappoints speculators; ad revenues hold up; cash managment is the problem
At least Google (GOOG) isn’t blaming its disappointing earnings report on global warming, the weather or even oil prices.
Instead, Google says in this report by Reuters that it didn’t earn as much interest income as expected because it spent some $3.5 billion on an acquisition, and hedging currencies cost more than expected.
Thus, the 8% drop in GOOG’s stock price in extended hours trading after the company announced its results was all a big mistake, according to at least one analyst.
If so, GOOG may go up Friday instead of sinking on the news that its earnings only rose 35% from a year ago.
But its charts, which are shown here, are all bearish, and maybe the stock will reach its bearish price objective of $465 after all. The stock closed Friday at $533.44. In after hours trading, it fell to $492, well below its all time high of $741.79 per share. Prior to the earnings announcement, Morningstar.com said GOOG’s fair value is an estimated $625 and gave the stock three of a possible five stars.
What matters for GOOG is what happens to consumer spending. If consumers reduce their spending, advertisers will cut back on their ad spending on Google and in the print and broadcast media. But a drop in oil prices could cut gas prices and give consumers more confidence about the economy. This would help Google.
So speculators should keep close eyes on department store sales, new car sales and what they and their neighbors are buying or not buying.
Analysts don’t think Google’s prospects will be well known for several months. The economic outlook is pretty uncertain.
I don’t own GOOG but my investment club does.
For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.
e-commerce • Economy • Marketing and Sales • Advertising • Stocks • Permalink
Can Microsoft overtake Yahoo, Google?
Microsoft (MSFT) has a chance to parlay its strengths in technology and display advertising and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of pay-per-click search advertising into long-term wins against Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG), according to the cover story in the May 19, 2008, are here. Of the three stocks, only GOOG has a bullish point and figure chart price objective. Reuters offers data on all three companies here.
Based on the BusinessWeek story and my experiences as a web surfer and pay-per-click advertiser, this is how I see the relative strengths of the three companies:
1. Resources for the technological and marketing wars: Microsoft is stronger than Google, but not much, and both are a lot stronger than Yahoo.
2. Technology that will make search and advertising work for advertisers: Microsoft beats Google beats Yahoo.
3. Pay-per-click search advertising: Google has a 75% market share and Yahoo is way ahead of Microsoft.
4. Display advertising technology and market share: Yahoo is a bit ahead of Microsoft, and both are way ahead of Google.
5. Traffic on web sites: With 500 million unique visitors a month, Yahoo is ahead of Google, which beats Microsoft.
6. Content: Yahoo beats Google beats Microsoft.
Microsoft is making a major pitch that pay-per-click advertising is way over rated, and as a former advertiser, I’d have to agree. Pay-per-click fraud is still a big problem on Google and Yahoo, I think. But will display advertising be better? I notice the ads and only click on them accidentally.
For small business advertisers, Google is still the best deal. And it’s the only place Mac owners can use their favorite computers instead of their WinTel backups.
Full disclosure: I do not have positions in any of the stocks mentioned here.
For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.
e-commerce • Marketing and Sales • Advertising • Small Business • Technology • Permalink
GOOG: Google complicates search engine optimization for e-commerce and news sites
Google (GOOG) has introduced a new, more intrusive search-within-search feature that will be welcomed by consumers but will hurt e-commerce and many news sites by placing ads from competitors of the sites on those sites, the NY Times reports. Link is here. So far, the new search within a search feature has been turned off at amazon.com (AMZN), and other web publishers are evaluating it, according to the Times.
Key graphs from nytimes.com:
eBay sellers look to Amazon, other sites for alternatives
Politicians who are promising “change” should look at how some planned changes at eBay are stirring up a ruckus and causing some eBay sellers to consider shifting their business to Amazon.com and other sites, including their own web sites.
Americans aren’t as ready for change as they claim. They fear it, as any manager who’s tried to implement change knows. And that fear probably is driving a lot of the anger at eBay.
The question that I haven’t seen explored in detail yet is what are the economics and returns sellers can expect from selling on eBay versus its competitors?
And how long would it take an eBay seller or someone new to online selling to learn the Amazon software and technology versus the time it takes to learn eBay’s? When I looked at both services a year or so ago, both looked a bit daunting even though I’ve been learning new software for some 26 years. I finally decided neither service was worth it, but that’s probably just me.
What seems to be clear is that some of the unhappy eBay sellers feel they are entitled to its services at small service rates and with rules that favor sellers over buyers. Sorry, that’s not how business is done nor is it the kind of setup that will attract trusting buyers, which is what the business is all about.
Here are a couple of sites and articles worth checking out if you’re researching Amazon and eBay. I am not trying to become an eBay blog. What I’m trying to do is look at the Amazon and eBay services as a potential merchant and investor.
e-commerce • Ethics • Trust • Small Business • Permalink
eBay boards warn against dozens of scams
Out of curiosity, I logged into eBay and searched “scams.” A bunch of auctions and buy it now offerings on e-books and other products that had scam in their titles came up. Then I looked at the “Community” tab and found discussion boards for buyers and sellers. Buried in the list of boards was “Trust & Safety (Safe Harbor). Under that link, I found “Today’s scams in progress,” 36 in all. In addition, you can find more posts on eBay scams.
Lesson learned: Before you trade on eBay, be sure you understand how the scams work and how to avoid them. Basically, don’t deal with Western Union or Money Graham, and never sign in twice to eBay, because if a new signin request is made after you’ve signed into your account, you’re being scammed for your identity.
No wonder eBay is having a problem attracting new buyers.
e-commerce • Ethics • Trust • Small Business • Permalink
Business wiki will be written by online ‘We are smarter’ community, published as book
WeAreSmarter.org is a new online business and management wiki created by the U.K. Publisher Pearson, Wharton and MIT’s Sloan School of Management to draw on the expertise of the schools academics and alumni as well as others who will write and edit a book on business and management that will be published in September 2007.
Modeled after http://www.wikipedia.com, the wiki will be an attempt to draw on the expertise of thousands of managers who like to write about what they do.
Wiki software is becoming widely available as part of content management software that cost less than $300 but requires a few thousand dollars worth of programming and managment to install and maintain. One provider of integrated wiki, blog, message board and shopping cart software is http://www.pmachine.com , which publishes Expression Engine. This web site and blog uses Expression Engine.