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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

If one were to jump into a time machine to travel back to 1995 or thereabouts, what would the publishers of newspapers and magazines have to say about the “Internet”? One might assume, at first glance, that the Internet would be a publisher’s dream: unprecedented reach beyond the usual regional scope, access to new readership, more advertising opportunities and expanded market share. But that’s not what happened. Hundreds of publishers, both regional and national, found themselves struggling, instead, to make sense of how to translate the digital venue into an improved bottom line. It didn’t help that this digital medium spawned a paradox: more readers, less circulation; more ad potential, less ad revenue. The very same readership who could be reached at unlimited distance through the Internet now enjoyed a smorgasbord of competing blogs, news and social media outlets from which to gather information. It proved too much, too fast, leaving print media to quibble over an increasingly fragmented market. That the print industry is struggling to remain afloat is widely appreciated now. But what’s only beginning to be appreciated is that much of the economy — bricks-and-mortar retailers, in particular — will face the same paradox: greater sales reach in the face of diminishing returns.

The chopping axe is coming for the traditional retail space now. But are retailers any better prepared than their print news counterparts?

Retail as We Know It — but for How Long? (more…)

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Dynamic pricing, long the norm for airline tickets — the same computer-generated practice responsible for hour-to-hour price shifts for hotel rooms and goods sold on Amazon.com — has come to bear on the nation’s housing markets. Day-to-day increases and decreases, worth hundreds of dollars, are not out of the ordinary in many rental markets. Society must decide: Are such trends genuinely reflective of market demands or are high-speed revenue management programs also driving market trends in much the same way high-frequencey trading has been criticized for spawning stock market volatility?

Key Questions:

1) Does the emergence of dynamic pricing in the real estate sector allude to a sophisticated means of price fixing and collusion?

2) Should we amend laws pertaining to “unfair advantage” to account for novel forms of technology — to compensate for the reality that ordinary consumers are no match for a multimillion-dollar computer algorithms?

3) We might be able to walk away from an over-priced hotel room or airline ticket — to vote with our pocketbooks. But we don’t have the luxury of skipping out on necessities like food and housing. Should dynamic pricing strategies be employed in all markets — even those for which bubbles and busts may have a particularly invasive, deleterious reach?

How has dynamic pricing impacted housing costs in your neck of the woods? Join the discussion in the comment section!

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TIME

In strong-growth markets like Charlotte, landlords are adopting dynamic pricing strategies similar to the airlines and Amazon.com—meaning the asking rent price for apartments can change by hundreds of dollars in the blink of an eye.

The Charlotte Observer recently took note of how commonplace it’s become for rent rates at large apartment complexes in the city to be dictated by software algorithms that track supply and demand — and then tweak asking prices accordingly. The result is that if a handful of units are scooped up by renters over the course of a weekend, the monthly rental rate for similar units in the complex could soar on Monday, if not sooner.

Rent prices can and do change all the time, occasionally with quick, dramatic swings. During one particularly volatile ten-day period, the Observer tracked the monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment at one complex as it rose from $982 to…

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The Washington Post asks, “Was it ‘crazy’ for this scientist to re-create a bird flu virus that killed 50 million people?

Let me cut to the chase.

Yes.

Just about anyone paying heed the past five to 10 years might have noticed a near-constant drumbeat on the possibility of pandemic: SARS, bird flu, swine flu — the so-called Zombie Apocalypse, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control! Inundated by pandemic warnings, one could be forgiven for wondering what the powers that be know that we apparently do not. If Mother Nature won’t cull the herd fast enough might a self-fulfilling prophecy of the pandemic kind do?

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