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Beware the Ides of March

We left for vacation this morning, but our flight was canceled. We came back home, and we'll try again tomorrow. I found it amusing that this happened on March 15th. Yesterday I remarked to a co-worker, tongue-in-cheek, that it was rather foreboding that we were departing on the Ides of March.

The airport was mobbed (unusual for Akron) with hundreds of spring breakers headed south. When they announced the cancellation, all the children started crying. It was sad to see that many kids crying at the same time. They were just heartbroken.


Kindle Desperation has been promoting Kindle, their new e-book reader, for weeks and weeks and weeks. That's fine to a point, but two things about it are driving me absolutely crazy.

First, the Kindle has been monopolizing their home page non stop (at least the version that they serve to me every time I visit). Second, it's not available. It's always sold out.

That's right -- you can't even get one right now, and it's been that way the past few times I've clicked through to the item page. What a waste of home page real estate. They should at least downplay it a little until it is back in stock. I wonder how much business they are losing by perpetually promoting an out-of-stock product in a location where they should be maximizing every opportunity to generate immediate revenue.


Your Google Quotient

There's a decent little post today at Independent Street, one of the Wall Street Journal blogs, about how to be found via Google. There were a few decent tips here, particularly that what you do on other sites is important, not just the things you do on your own site.


The Year in Pictures from Time

Time magazine has a slide show of 2007's big news stories as seen through the lens. There are some good shots here.


Andy's Film

Oh, yeah. I forgot to post Andy's film here. He made this for the Apple’s 24hr Insomnia Film Festival. I am sure the contest is long over, but the video is pretty funny and worth a look if you haven't seen it.


Reuters’ Best Shots of the Year

Reuters has a slide show of their best pictures of the year. Some of these are remarkable. (via Photojojo)


Merry Christmas

Another frenetic Christmas morning has mercifully come to an end. It's so much easier with the kids getting older. But they are still kids...


This cartoon really cracked me up. It's so true.


Target and Starbucks Smell Bad Together

Have you been in a Target store lately? Specifically, I'm talking about the newer ones that have a Starbucks near the front entrance. The stores near me in Stow, Macedonia and Streetsboro all have them.

The odor that hits you when you walk in the door is awful. It smells like a combination of the usually-good Starbucks aroma with some other indefinable Target-related ingredient. I used to think it was adhesive, paint or something else related to the store construction, but now I'm not so sure. Whatever it is, they need to fix it. A bad smell upon entering a store is not good for business.


Seth on Apples at Starbucks

Last spring, when I was actually blogging somewhat regularly (amazing but true), I made some comments in the wake of Starbucks' memogate controversy. My thesis was -- and still is -- that Starbucks is gradually becoming a commodity due to its ubiquitousness. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks stand.

Seth Godin's post this week about Apple is similar and wonderfully succinct. Seth notes that MacBook market penetration may become a problem for Apple. The irony that the observation was made at Starbucks is not lost on him, and that's what really got my attention.

Yes, a better product can help ensure long-term success, but what makes Starbucks and Apple special isn't just their products. It is their customers' experiences. If you were a Starbucks patron, you used to have something special that not everyone else had. Now that this is no longer the case, Starbucks' success depends on other fundamentals. If Apple's success is being driven by their customers' desire to be different, then Apple is on this same path.

I also wonder how much the Starbucks and Mac experiences are interrelated. How much is taking your MacBook to Starbucks a brand experience in and of itself? Does a threat to one affect the other?


The Gift of Imaginative Play

This fall Step2 was featured on a TV program called Designing Spaces. I doubt too many people watch this show on cable, but it's well done. They shot a nice segment at our headquarters that talks a lot about our product development philosophy and why we're different than most big toy companies.