Technologizer posts about Shopping

Bobbie Johnson of GigaOM has a good piece on John Browett, Apple’s new Apple Store guy:

Immediate reaction to the news was intriguing, because it was split down the middle. On one side were those who read Browett’s credentials and the PR puffs. To them, it looks as if Apple has just hired a man who has succeeded at most things he’s tried, and spent the last five years steering a large retail business with more than 1,200 stores through a difficult period for the economy.

On the other hand, for those who know Dixons as it exists in the real world, the reaction was somewhat different: the most common refrain I saw was “Has Tim Cook ever been in a Dixons store?”.

Posted by Harry at 11:38 am

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The Apple Store’s New Chief Already Runs an Electronics Retailer. Is That Good or Bad?

By  |  Posted at 7:24 am on Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Ron Johnson, the Apple retail chief who helped turn the Apple Store into a juggernaut, announced last June that he was leaving to become CEO of JC Penney. He departed Apple as of November 1st. And now he’s been replaced: Apple has announced that John Browett is its new senior vice president of retail operations.

Since 2007, Browett has been CEO of Dixons Retail, a large electronics merchant in the UK that owns two chains, Currys and PC World. It’s sort of both the Best Buy and the CompUSA of its territory.

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Happy day after Thanksgiving! Back in 2008, I explained–at length–why I abstain from Black Friday madness

Posted by Harry at 1:02 pm


Yipit’s New App: Nearly Every Deal, on Your iPhone

By  |  Posted at 9:02 am on Saturday, November 19, 2011


Yipit co-founder Jim Moran is a self-confessed “deal maniac.”

And that’s a good thing because he and his team have come up with a new offering for other deal chasers: The Yipit iPhone app, which went live this week in the App Store.

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Jonathan Geller of BGR has more details on the upcoming Apple Store iOS app. He says it’s launching on Thursday and will enable in-store pickup of items you order from home and self-checkout, among other things. For me, the biggest drawback of the Apple Store is that it can be hard to attract the attention of an employee–oftentimes, they’re patiently answering the questions of clueless newbies–and so I love the idea of being able to shop there with as little human interaction as possible…

Posted by Harry at 5:05 pm

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Eric Slivka of MacRumors says Apple Stores plan to introduce a feature I’d love: The ability to check out and pay for products using your iPhone, no waiting for a clerk required:

It is not entirely clear what will happen once a user has checked out via the app, although store employees will of course be on the lookout for store visitors walking out with merchandise in hand, as they are already. Customers who have made a purchase through self-checkout will be able to show an emailed receipt to any employee, confirming their purchase.

Posted by Harry at 7:56 am


Greetings From iLine 2011

By  |  Posted at 5:20 am on Friday, October 14, 2011


Once again, Apple is releasing a new iPhone. Once again, I’m in line at the crack of dawn at the Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco. This time I’m here with my wife Marie, who’s excited about upgrading from an iPhone 3GS to a 4S. We’ve been here for an hour; there were around 40 folks here when we arrived, along with a few phantom lawn chairs.)

There may be Apple Stores where iLines are still festive, even circus-like affairs. Not this one, at least so far. There are no kids dressed as iPhones. And Woz isn’t here. Just a lot of rather quiet people. And some Apple employees, who have already been consulting with people about carriers, capacities, colors, and the many and varied virtues of Applecare.

I’ll let you know if any excitement breaks out…

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When people ask me when they should buy a particular tech product, I have a standard answer: “Wait as long as you can without driving yourself crazy, but no longer.” That is, of course, a pat, one-size-fits all response.  A site called Decide tries to provide more sophisticated answers for specific products, by analyzing the chances that its price will fall or rise, and whether or not it’s likely to be replaced in the near future.

The company’s been doing this for laptops, cameras, and TVs for a while, and now it’s added phones to the roster. So far, its advice doesn’t appear to be comprehensive or completely up-to-date: It doesn’t seem to list the Droid Bionic and Triumph, two Motorola phones I reviewed last week. But it does have lots of models, and the recommendations I checked seemed sensible. For instance, it advises against buying an iPhone 4 right now, but says it’s safe to buy one of Apple’s recently-released MacBook Airs.

No matter how much data you have, timing purchases is tough–and whatever and whenever you buy, you need to be able able to deal with one of the eternal verities of the technology world: Better, cheaper stuff is always ahead. But Device looks handy. (Retrevo, which has some purchase-timing features of its own, is another handy resource.)

Posted by Harry at 4:02 pm


Help Me Help My Mom Pick Her Next Phone

By  |  Posted at 12:00 pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011


My mom, sans BlackBerry.

My mother isn’t the sort of person who craves the latest smartphone just because it’s the latest smartphone. Actually, she remains smitten with her BlackBerry Curve 8900, which she’s had for a couple of years. But it’s developing an odd shadow effect on the screen, and so she rightly thinks she may be in the market for a new phone soon.

She asked me for advice on what to buy. And now I’m asking you for advice.

When it comes to decisions like this, I’m not a missionary. I don’t instinctively want to steer mom off the BlackBerry platform, or onto a particular OS. (For the record, I use an iPhone 4 most of the time, and a Verizon Fascinate some of them time.) I just want her to own a phone she’ll like at least as much as her BlackBerry.

Here’s what’s important to her:

  • She does a lot of e-mail on her phone.
  • She loves reading Kindle books on her BlackBerry. Very important to her.
  • She’d use a browser if she had a decent one.
  • She might dabble in Facebook.
  • She might take photos if her phone had a respectable camera.
  • She might well make video calls on Skype if she could.
  • She might listen to music if someone showed her the ropes. Video, probably not. (Unless it’s of her grandchildren.)
  • She’s not going to play games, do any social networking other than light Facebook use, or install apps willy-nilly.
  • I don’t think she’ll detect much of a difference between 3G and AT&T’s “4G”
  • As far as I know, she has no desire to leave AT&T. (I think she’s nearing the end of a two-year contract and might be able to wangle a new handset at full discount.)
  • I don’t think she has a specific price in mind. But when I mentioned phones being available for a penny on contract, she sounded happy. And when I talked about the iPhone 4 costing $199, she sounded alarmed.

I don’t think mom has had real hands-on experience with any modern smartphones. But my dad has (and likes) an HTC Aria, so she has some sense of the world beyond the Curve. And she told me she’s intrigued by touchscreens. She’s not adverse to trying something new.

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Copious Aims to Help Real People Buy From Real People

By  |  Posted at 10:54 am on Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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Who would you rather buy something from–a shadowy stranger or a person with a well-established, positive online reputation? A new online marketplace called Copious that’s launching today is betting that just about everybody would opt for the latter. And it aims to shed light on its buyers and sellers by tying together their activities on Facebook, Twitter, and other social venues so you know a bit about them before dough exchanges hands.

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I Visited a CD Store Today. (Remember Those?)

By  |  Posted at 11:15 pm on Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I was a frequent Tower Records shopper until that chain collapsed, and it’s only been gone since 2006. I went to the Virgin Megastores in San Francisco and New York pretty often, too, and they closed in 2009. That doesn’t seem that long ago.

But at the moment, I’m in San Diego for Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, and when I saw a Sam Goody music store in the same complex as my hotel, I wandered in–and boy, did what I found feel like something from another era.

Until I came across it, I wasn’t sure whether Sam Goody (which was founded in New York City in the 1950s by Samuel Gutowitz) still existed. Apparently, even Sam Goody is uncertain whether Sam Goody still exists: Wikipedia (which refers to the chain in the past tense) says it’s owned by Trans World Entertainment, which also owns FYE, the last bastion of big-time shopping-mall music stores. But the company apparently converted most of the remaining Goody stores into FYEs in 2008 and doesn’t even mention the chain on its corporate site. There is no such place as anymore, either.

But this San Diego Sam Goody refuses to acknowledge its own fate, like a Japanese soldier hiding out on a Pacific island somewhere. (In this case, the island happens to be Horton Plaza, a sprawling open-air shopping center in San Diego’s Gaslight Quarter.)

The Goody store is a close cousin of the Tower Records and Virgin Megastores I’d once found worth my time, but I’d almost forgotten what they were like, and had to reacclimate myself to the whole concept of a great big retailer dealing primarily in discs with things recorded on them. As I toured the place, I took fuzzy photos with my iPhone.

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Facebook The Latest To Join Online Coupon Frenzy

By  |  Posted at 2:54 pm on Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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The online coupon industry is getting crowded. Facebook is the latest to announce, launching Deals on Facebook in five cities on Tuesday. The first cities to get the service will be Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco, although if you live elsewhere and are interested you’ll be able to sign up to be notified.

Of course if Facebook is involved there’s going to be some kind of social aspect, so the company says it will make it easy for users of the service to share the deals they find, as well as helping “find interesting experiences around you to do with friends.” You’ll also be able to “Like” the deal in true Facebook fashion.

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Save Your Money, Steve: Five Reasons Why We Don’t Need More Microsoft Stores

By  |  Posted at 5:13 pm on Thursday, April 7, 2011


Agreeing with me is not a prerequisite for Technologizer contributors. (Actually, I always learn more when our other writers–and commenters–have a take that’s in conflict with mine.) I was happy to read Ed’s post on why he shares Steve Ballmer’s apparent belief that Microsoft should build many more Microsoft Stores. But even though Ed makes his case cogently, I’m still not sold on the argument that Microsoft should mount an Apple-like campaign to sell products directly to consumers through hundreds of retail outlets. Here’s why.

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Shopping for Bargains on the Internet

By  |  Posted at 7:41 am on Friday, March 25, 2011

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Do you have a cheapskate gene, one that yearns for a wholesale price? I do and can’t bear to pay more for something if I can find the exact same thing for less money.

That’s this week’s topic: The sites I regularly visit with daily bargain-priced products, those with coupon codes for discounts or free shipping, and the tools to make bargain hunting easier.

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iLines Part Deux: Some Apple Stores to Open Early Tuesday

By  |  Posted at 3:11 pm on Monday, March 14, 2011

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By all accounts, Friday’s launch of the iPad 2 was a success. Analysts say the company likely sold at least 500,000 units over the weekend — with some saying Apple may have sold close to a million units. If you found an iPad on Sunday, consider yourself lucky: most places had sold out of the device on Saturday if not on launch day itself.

This success may be the reason why Apple may be quietly planning to open some of its stores an hour early on Tuesday, according to the Apple Bitch blog. Those walking into Apple Stores today are being told that even if they receive shipments today to replenish stocks, iPad 2s will not available until Tuesday.

With many stores opening typically at 10:00am, this would mean those stores would open at 9:00am instead.

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I got up at the crack of dawn and waited in a long, long line for the original iPhone. I did the same for the iPhone 3G. And the iPhone 3GS. And the iPad. (In all cases, I did it partially to acquire products to review, and partially to report on the all the wackiness associated with the iLine experience.

But I’m not in line right now to buy an iPad 2–instead, I’m on my way to Austin for the South by Southwest conference. (Or trying to get there, at least–a three-hour flight delay turned my flight to Austin into a flight to Houston, plus another three hours in a rent-a-car.) There are, however, still iLines around the country–maybe not of record-setting length, but still formidable. AppleInsider’s Daniel Eran Dilger has a report on the one at the flagship Apple Store in San Francisco. (I took the photo above at the same store during the 2007 iPhone launch.)

Posted by Harry at 2:02 pm