Apple Wins on Black Friday, Could They Be Losing on Cyber Monday?

 

apple

apple

Apple sold more than 4 times what they normally do on Black Friday – was said in a report on 9to5Mac. But here we have Cyber Monday, and Apple is back to full price. Are they missing on another record sales day?

It was the first time in a long while that Apple put discounts on their products like that. But this Black Friday, they broke the norm and gave discounts on Macbooks, iMac, iPods and iPads. The best deal out of the lot was the Macbook Air, which was $898. A 16 GB iPad was discounted to $450. What was really missing was the 4S discount (which I would have updated iPhone if there was a $30-50 discount).

However, after Friday, the prices jumped back up to their original amounts. While stores like Best Buy have some great discounts in accessories, the only deal tablets will be anything but Apple.

Is a One day a Year Sale for Apple Good or Bad?

This is the true question: Would Apple continue to have 4x the sales if they would have participated in Cyber Monday? What about Saturday or Sunday?

No matter what, this Cyber Monday will continue to bring some great deals. Microsoft’s $299 Dell computer is already sold out. Amazon Cyber Monday will have computer accessories go on sale all week.

Black Friday Weekend Brings 24% increase

The numbers are coming in and there is a 24% increase this year. 14.1% comes from mobile devices. This means people are using their smartphones and tablets to buy gifts. Of course, it’s a lot different than having that old Pentium computer in the den and slow internet connections. Best part is you could shop while lying in bed, so the kids wouldn’t peek and see the cool stuff your getting them.

So now the question is: Will Cyber Monday be as fruitful as last year? They stole the crown in 2010 for the busiest shopping day of the year. Now that people have had a whole weekend to get some great deals, will Monday continue to overshadow, or be overshadowed?

Tuesday is Eco-Day in Cyber Week?

A lot of retailers are using the whole week to make deals. Last Saturday was “Shop Local” day, which people were encouraged to visit the Mom-and-Pop shops. Tuesday is Eco-Day, buying items that are green in nature. No word if Wednesday and Thursday are going to get categorized.

So we could be having a great holiday season, but we are far from over in shopping. A lot of deals are to be had, so keep your eyes out. CyberMonday.com is a website to watch for today, but CyberWeek.com will be on the case all week long.

Trading Tough for the UK Big Boxes

Best Buy LogoFrom recent news in the UK, the tough economic conditions appear to be hitting the technology and electrical particularly hard with Best Buy and Comet in the front line.

After losing nearly £50 million in the last six months, Best Buy is going to close all 11 stores in the UK after just 18 months in   operation. Best Buy Europe was a joint venture between Best Buy, Inc and Carphone Warehouse, with Best Buy purchasing half of Carphone Warehouse’s retail division for over $1 billion. Over 200 stores were originally planned but now 1,000 jobs are at risk.

Roger Taylor, CEO of Carphone Warehouse said, “The eleven Best Buy UK ‘Big Box’ stores have performed exceptionally at the level of customer satisfaction, but they do not have the national reach to achieve scale and brand economies. Due to the lack of visibility of an acceptable rate of return on historical and future potential investment we have decided against rolling out more ‘Big Box’ stores and we will be closing our existing stores, subject to consultation with our employees. Our immediate focus is our people and we are confident that the large majority will be offered alternative positions elsewhere in our UK business.

Today, Comet has been sold for just £2 to a holding company “Hailey” after revenue in Comet fell 22% over the summer. A further £50 million will be invested by Comet’s parent company in the holding company. 17 stores are already earmarked for closure with a further nine to be reduced in size.

In guarded comments, Bob Darke, Comet managing director said, “We are encouraged by today’s announcement and – with shareholder approval – absolutely committed to a smooth handover. For our customers and our people, it is business as usual and we are 100 per cent focused on delivering a successful Christmas trading period and great business performance into 2012 and beyond.

DSG Retail with its Dixons, Currys and PC World brands is the main player in the UK market but even it saw a fall of 7% earlier in the year. The next set of results isn’t due for a few months and it will be interesting to see what they show.

Overall, it’s not looking good for the big boxes in the UK.

Best Buy Selling Napster? To Rhapsody?

Rhapsody

Rhapsody

The details are not disclosed, but it looks like Rhapsody has come to an agreement with Best Buy to take over Napster service. Of course, this is Rhapsody’s attempt to counter the surge of users on Spotify.

Napster was founded in 1999 by John and Shawn Fanning. Of course, issues arose with the downloading of illegal music, which was brought to the forefront by the band Metallica. The peer-to-peer sharing site went bankrupt in 2002, then sold their assets to Roxio, who then sold the company to Best Buy.

Rhapsody has also been in the music space since 2001. Their music streaming service has gone through a few changes, but survived for over ten years. So when Spotify brought a surge to the online streaming service category, it would make sense that Rhapsody would want to counter.

“This deal will further extend Rhapsody’s lead over our competitors in the growing on-demand music market,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody. “There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals.”

The only thing we know from the details is that Best Buy will still keep a stake in the company. That could become a great marriage for Rhapsody, because Best Buy has been known for putting bundles into their product sales. Getting someone on a service for a couple free months and hope they don’t cancel the membership when the time comes.

Currently, Rhapsody and Napster are the two largest on-demand music services. With the acquisition, they will be able to run against Spotify and the Facebook integration.

The deal will be finalized on November 30th.

Update On TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS

On August 19th I posted about my experience with a TomTom GO 2535 Live 5” Widescreen GPS. After failure of a second unit, an update is in order.

To briefly recap, I had purchased it at a Best Buy store in Lincoln, Nebraska. After a little more than a week, the unit spontaneously rebooted and was then stuck in a rebooting loop. Nothing I could do would cause the unit to return to normal operation. I ended up exchanging it for an identical unit at a Best Buy store in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

I figured the problem was resolved. Unfortunately, the after I’d had the second unit for just under two weeks, it did the same thing as the first unit – it spontaneously rebooted and then was caught in the same rebooting loop. Since the unit only has a power button and no other controls, it is impossible to do anything to reset it. The GPS must be booted in order for a computer to recognize its USB presence, but the GPS reboots before it’s possible to do any manipulation to it with the TomTom computer software.

I ended up returning it to yet another Best Buy store for a full refund.

Therefore, the TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS is a fail. That’s unfortunate, because there is a lot to like about this GPS. However, with two units in a row suffering the same operating system failure going into a non-escapable rebooting loop, I cannot recommend it or any other TomTom product.

How HP TouchPad’s Demise Hurt One Company

Last week at this time, people were buzzing about the HP TouchPad and it’s $99 availability. By Saturday morning, the tablet was pretty much gone. I was one of those in line early at Best Buy only to find out they wouldn’t sell us one. For the next 48 hours, I hunted through the sites trying to get my hands on the TouchPad. I apparently scored 3 – including one from Barnes and Noble. Yet, all three were cancelled.

One in-particular was sold by a 3rd party company through Amazon. It was called “Green Frog”. Now, here is the interesting thing about this purchase: They put the TouchPad on their site Monday evening. They also advertised it for $52 for the 32 GB model TouchPad.

Within moments, I snapped one up. I figured if it was a scam, Amazon had my back. Many others did the same. However, the next day, we got the email:

 We’re writing to inform you that your order xxx-xxxx from GreenFrog has been canceled because the item(s) you purchased were out of stock. Please return and place your order again at a later time.

Our sellers strive to minimize canceled orders. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. Your credit card was not charged for this order. If you have any questions regarding the cancelation of this order, please contact GreenFrog.

If you’re still interested in this item, please search for it again on Amazon.com.

Out of stock? I think not. I think the seller made a mistake and therefore tried to hide it. But keep in mind – this product went on sale Monday evening – 3 days after the tablet price change was announced.

Why Not A Gift Card or Something?

What really irked me – Especially with the Barnes and Noble fiasco – was that we were not given any compensation. No “Hey, we screwed up, but here’s something for you”. In fact:

Barnes and Noble Should Have Given $100 Credit on the Color Nook to all Customers whose TouchPad Orders were Cancelled.

I would have snapped that up in a heartbeat. I then would have had a Color Nook to buy books and apps with. But instead, I got a form letter much like a “Dear John” letter and nothing to show for my effort. In return, Barnes and Noble got my information. Since I never bought anything online from them, they now have my email address, my mailing address and my phone number. So I ask you, is that a fair trade?

Barnes Noble Email Cancelling TouchPad

Barnes Noble Email Cancelling TouchPad

Back to Green Frog – They got hit hard. They’re rating had jumped from 97% positive to 93% Negative. The comments were not as nice, either.

 “Seller supposedly sold out, nonsense@ It was a very low price, too low, seller decided NOT to sell at that price.They can shove it.”

“Seller is a scammer, dont do business with them. Terrible service, cancels orders to avoid paying Amazon fees when they realize they can sell them elsewhere for more money. Again, avoid them at all costs.”

“I ordered 3 of the HP Touchpad’s, and after I received a confirmation for my order, I received a notice that it was canceled by you, and that my credit card will not be charged. However, MY CREDIT CARD HAS BEEN CHARGED. I do not appreciate the misrepresentation of the sale, or the taking of my money. ”

“I attempted to purchase two HP Touchpads. The order went thru and then a day later they stated that they did not have any in stock. They cancelled my order. I will never buy anything from this company again. I wish I would’ve looked at the prior FEEDBACKS which wouldve given me an idea of whom I was dealing with!!!!”

“Order placed was cancelled, the seller put up an item which sold out in minutes. Does not seem like anyone who was able to place an order received their item, everyone seems to have had their order cancelled also.”

There were more, but you get the idea.

Green Frog Rating

Green Frog Rating - Monday was 97% positive, now 93% negative.

Part of this problem might be due to the fact that HP recalled the remaining TouchPads. Why? Most likely so they could give them to the people they sold the device to on their website. Chances are, if you got that deal on HP.com, your TouchPad was sitting in a Best Buy just a week before.

So in summation, 1 tablet was discontinued, at least one web seller had their name turned to mud, Barnes & Noble missed out on a marketing opportunity and there are a lot of disgruntled people without TouchPads. Not a great week for some, although others who did get the device have been talking a lot about it.

As for me, I still am Tablet-less.

TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS

I recently ended up purchasing a TomTom GO 2535M Live portable 5” widescreen GPS unit at a Best Buy store. With tax, the total price ended up being just under $300 dollars.

For the past 6 years or so, I’ve had a Garmin C550 with a 3.5” touch screen that is hard drive based. Since I drive a truck over-the-road, the Garmin has been running almost 24/7 for those six years, taking very high amounts of what can often be severe jolts and vibration along with occasional extreme heat and cold. I’ve paid to update the maps in the C550 about three times, but I’m reluctant to pay to update the maps again since I really don’t know how much useful life the hardware, particularly the unit’s hard drive, has left in it. For the time being, the aging Garmin is still working so I’m using it side-by-side with the new TomTom unit.

In my experience the perfect GPS unit has yet to be sold. Each brand has it’s strength and weaknesses. I’m including in this software-based solutions such as Google Navigation, Telenav, etc. that frequently comes bundled with Android or other smartphones. Maps used in GPS devices have improved dramatically, but they are accurate only about 90% of the time, and this includes Google itself. As a truck driver I’m looking for new addresses on average about two to three times a day, sometimes more and sometimes less. About 10% of the time I run into errors, sometimes with the potential to cause catastrophe – think narrow streets, weight-restricted bridges, etc.

Right after I bought the TomTom I had to go to a cold storage in Chicago, Illinois that the TomTom could not find, but the Garmin could. It turns out the street had been given two names with dual street signs, one below the other. The TomTom could find what was probably the original numbered street name, but not the other, which was a woman’s name the city was obviously trying to honor. At that point I was unhappy with the TomTom’s performance, but decided to continue to give it a longer chance before rushing into a knee-jerk judgment of the device or its software. The TomTom redeemed itself later that day by warning me around a 15-mile-long traffic backup in northern Indiana on I-65 which ended up saving me hours of sitting waiting for a major accident to be cleared and the road opened back up.

The TomTom is different than the Garmin. TomTom has a different way of doing things. The GO 2535M Live is a fairly sophisticated device. It even has a full-time GSM data connection to the TomTom server with the ability to do real-time Google searches, either locally or in other locations, get live traffic and weather updates, and do real-time rerouting to avoid traffic problems. Though the unit has free lifetime map updates from TomTom and a year’s worth of live “HD” traffic and weather updates, the live “HD” traffic and weather update service is just under $60 per year. Once you create an account at TomTom.Com you can sign in to your account with the unit itself. Incidentally, I’m willing to pay $60 dollars per year for accurate, up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information. That type of information can end up saving a lot of time and trouble as long as it’s presented as soon as it becomes available. The unit can even accurately display areas of traffic backups and slowdowns.

After I’d had the unit for about a week and a half, it was sitting on my dash and suddenly started going into a rebooting loop. Regardless of what I did, the unit would just keep rebooting. After a quick call to TomTom’s support number (I got right through to a live support person), they advised me to return the unit to Best Buy for an exchange since I was well within the 30-day exchange window. I’m pretty sure it must have been some sort of software/operating system error, since a few minutes before I had entered a new favorite location.

The replacement unit is working great. The TomTom rep gave me a reference number to call back with when I had the replacement unit so they could make the necessary changes to associate it with my existing account in their system, which I did.

There are much more expensive GPS units on the market (sold at truck stops) aimed specifically at truck drivers which look enticing, some of them priced up to 200% more than the units sold at a place like Best Buy or other big-box retailer. I talked to a driver that bought one of these very expensive trucker-specific GPS units. He said it was nice, but he didn’t feel the extra trucker-specific features were worth the substantially higher price he had to pay for the specialized unit.

It turns out feature I like the most so far is the ability to do Google searches in order to input destinations rather than go through the standard process. Other features I like are that that unit has enough room on its bright, high-resolution 5” widescreen to display my current speed, the current time with the time zone automatically updated, and speed limits with audible alerts if I’m going over the speed limit. It also has a lane assist feature which primarily warns if an upcoming exit is on the left or the right. Another useful, though not always consistent feature is that it can be set to announce upcoming points of interest such as rest areas and truck stops, along with virtually any other type of other business one can think of, including user-defined points of interest.

I am enjoying the TomTom GO 2535M Live. It’s not yet perfect, but with continued updates from the folks at TomTom I’m certain it can continue to improve.

iPad2 at Best Buy and Toys R Us?

If you want to get one of those iPad2 tablets, you might want to go to your local Best Buy. They have been getting ready to push another wave of iPad2’s But if you really want one on Sunday, head down to Toys R Us.

Toys R Us and Best Buy will be pushing the 16 GB and 32 GB tablets (WiFi only models) starting Sunday, April 17. Check with each store before you go out to make sure there is stock. Best Buy states they have ample supply, but you still want to check before you head out.

Apple launched the iPad2 last month nation-wide, even opened a temporary store at SXSW. This will be the first new surge of iPad2 tablets since then.

So if you were planning to pay $700 on ebay, you might want to hold off for a day or two and check with your local Toys R Us or Best Buy store.

GNC-2011-02-28 #651 Fellows Don’t Do What I Did!

Fellows you want an immediate trip to the dog house? Listen to hear what I did by mistake on Sunday that has landed me in the dog house in a big way. Your going to get a good laugh on my behalf but I guarantee you will not make the same mistake I made. The show is action packed full of tech, I am reminiscent of some of the reasons I started this show for apparent reasons as you listen today.

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Listener Links
Solar Fan Recommendation.
Painful XOOM 4g Upgrade.
An Overview of Thunderbolt.

Show Notes:
Battle over a Spacesuit.
Las Vegas Stadium Plan.
Farmers IP = No Pictures?
Feds go after Reporter Info?
ICE Boss ok to Ignore Constitution?
20 Years of Windows Maleware.
Fake Girlfriend cost guy $200k
HBGary CEO Quits!
Tap your App?
AT&T Hacker Makes Bail.
Federal Acquisition Rules controls Comcast.
Random House ebooks at last!
Infected Android Apps run up Big Bill!
New macs have Quality Issues?
Atlantic Records breaks out the Archives.
Text Watched in Ads in UK now.
No Compromise on Net Neutrality?
ICANN no Government control of TLD’s
Sony Jailbreaker defies Company!
Jobs Replacement Analogy on iPhone (No Way)
Stream Globally.
Is Facebook Evil?
Texas Governor can’t block em all!
FAA ok’s iPad for Charts
See what State controlled Telecommunications can do!
AngelList.co
Thanks Google!
Google Destroys some Websites Traffic.
Business 101.
Self Publishing Books.
How to download TV Shows.
Ketchup goes Styling.
Best Buy, Buy Back Worthless.
Facebook New Like?
Traffic Jam at ISS!
Shuttle Launch from Airplane.
STS-133 Spacewalk #1
Space in a Bottle.
New Innovative Notebook Charger.
Matrox KVM extender.
Pirate Bay Movie.
Cool to Copy battle is won.
Apple Apple Apple GAG!
OSX Trojan or Linkbait?
Maglite smart Lite!
Ring Flash!
Channel 208 Insanity!
Cord Cutter Survival Guide.
Comcast No Stream but Dish May!

Play

Samsung 58″ Class (58.0″ Diag.) 500 Series 1080p Plasma HDTV

A few days ago I made a trip to my local Best Buy store and ended up walking out with a Samsung 58” 500 Series Plasma HDTV. I’d gone into the store thinking if I left with anything, it would most likely be an LCD HDTV. However, after spending quite a while comparing picture quality and prices on the massive number of sets covering the big-box store’s back wall, I happened upon the Samsung model PN58C500, a 58” Plasma.

This Samsung Plasma has an absolutely stunning picture, rivaling the best high-end LCD sets that cost two and almost three times more. The PN58C500 sells for $1,197.99. I happened to have a “Best Buy Rewards” coupon for 10% percent off of any HDTV set costing $750 or more, and the coupon did end up applying to the PN58C500. My final price, including our rather high local sales taxes, ended up being $1,147.

There’s no 3D circuitry, but that’s not a problem for me since I consider 3D TV’s (as well as 3D movies) to be a useless gimmick. The PN58C500 has Samsung’s “AllShare DLNA Networking” that allows the set to connect to computers and DLNA servers running on your home network to stream HD video via Ethernet. I’ve also got a Mac Mini, as well as a Western Digital HD Live Plus media player attached directly to the set via my surround sound receiver/switcher.

The PN58C500 has a useful variety of video formatting modes to easily cycle through via the remote control that facilitates getting the right picture format for the particular video you are watching or device you are watching it from. It has 3 HDMI inputs, and is a thin 2.8 inches thick.

The remote control seems to be a bit touchy, needing to be pointed at the set to ensure that remote control commands register. Also, the built-in speakers seem to fire out of the bottom, but the volume levels are more than loud enough to be usable.

If you are looking for a new big-screen HDTV, you can’t go wrong buying this set considering the price versus value. I cannot over-stress the absolutely stunning picture quality this set produces.

Dear Roku, Best Buy is not Doing any Justice for your Brand.

I decided to update my IPTV at home. A newer TV and Over The Top (OTT) system. I have run Boxee for a while, but wanted to get the Roku Box. I heard that Best Buy had the Roku box, so I made the trek out to the store.

That was a bad idea.

I was on the east side of town, so I stopped into the East side location. I figured the Roku would be somewhere next to the Google TV display. It wasn’t – In fact, I could not find it anywhere.

I did something I try not to do – envoke a Best Buy employee. I never have any luck with these guys, so I avoid them. However, since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I had to walk up to one. And the following conversation is why:

Hello. I am looking for the Roku box

Yes. They are over here (we walk to where the supposed Roku is). Here you go. It comes with Blu-Ray.

Excuse me? Roku does not have a Blu-Ray Model.

This one is. You can get Netflix.

I am sorry, but that is not a Roku box. Just because it connects to Netflix doesn’t make it a Roku.

Oh… Well, we are out of Roku players (pointing to the other shelf)

When will you get more?

We only got one. I don’t know when the next one is. However, we have a great line of internet connected players (pointing down the row).

This conversation really pissed me off. The guy  was quick to say that a Roku Box was some Blu-Ray from Insignia for $99. At first I didn’t think of it, but a couple days later I was in Best Buy on the West side and the exact same thing happened.

The Best Buy employee tried to tell me that this Blu-Ray player with Netflix was exactly like a Roku. Once again, I was annoyed and told him off. I walked out of the store, putting down what I was planning on purchasing.

Both stores only received 1-2 models of Roku. Both stores sold out in an hour and couldn’t tell me when the next batch was going to be here. Both employees also said that another device was “Just like the Roku”.

Certain Blu-Ray players do have applications. You can get Netflix and Vudu – along with other cool options to the player. However, this is not a Roku.

I started thinking about this: With the news announcement that you can get a Netgear branded Roku at Best Buy, I wonder how many people ventured out to get this. I also wonder how many ended up getting something else?

I have never been felt so misled by an employee in a long time. The last time I was, it was a Radio Shack employee trying to sell me a CD player stating it had MP3 support. Over 10 years later, I walked out of a store feeling just as annoyed.

The worst part about the Roku at Best Buy is it’s overshadowed by Google TV. The humongous display might make people change ideas for IPTV.

I ended up purchasing the box online, although I thought it would be nice to have a Blu-Ray Roku Box. Nonetheless, I think I will be avoiding Best Buy for a while.