Best Buy's Comp Store Revenue Drops
-- U.S. retail sales fared well in November, but Americans aren't rushing to big screen TVs at big box retailers like they did last year. Best Buy's comp store revenue dropped 5% in the quarter ended Nov. 27 and net earnings dropped slightly to $217 million, according to earnings released on Tuesday. Domestic comp store revenue from consumer electronics were down 10.6% and the entertainment software category was down 13.9%. The only category to notch a gain in same-store domestic revenue was home office.
Best Buy shares dropped 14% in early Tuesday trading.
Domestic comp store sales of TV were hurt by a low double-digit sales decline and a mid single-digit price decline. Mobile phones (especially smartphones) and mobile computing (driven by tablet computers) experienced a low double-digit increase.
Business Insider declared, "It's official: the traditional electronics industry is getting thrashed." Best Buy's disappointing quarter implies that "retailers like WalMart and Amazon are eating its lunch," opined Business Insider. In addition, the post points out that November retail sales were strong except for electronics. While retail sales were up 7.7% compared to November 2009, the electronics category was up only 0.9%. Excluding auto, retail sales were up 6.7% over November 2009. (Earnings release, Business Insider)
Telecom Execs Deny Threat of Cord-Cutting
-- Telecom executives have denied they are under threat of cord-cutting; customers' dropping cable TV service in favor of cheaper Internet options. But companies are improving their products and services as if Internet-based services like Netflix will soon be a legitimate threat. Now Comcast is testing a new service that mitigates any threat of cord-cutting by combining TV and the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reports. It offers these details:
"Under the new system, which is being tested in Augusta, Ga., content flows through a set-top box that combines features of the Web with those of a digital-video recorder, according to people familiar with the matter. Users can watch and search a smattering of Web video through their televisions and search across live, on-demand and recorded programming."
The service, known to participants as "Spectrum" and internally as "Xcalibur," doesn't let participants freely browse the Web, though they do have some basic connections to social networks to comment on television shows, the people familiar with the matter said.
A Comcast spokesperson told the Journal the test was one of many approaches the company is taking "to understand how best to meet consumer interests."
To some Wall Street analysts, the Internet threat is already here. But there is much disagreement over the current threat posed by the likes of Netflix. In fact, some have made the argument that Netflix is currently overvalued at $178 because it may have to pay much more for content in the future, thus preventing it from offering its streaming service at a low price. And for some content -- especially sports -- the lack of viable online alternatives will keep some customers with their cable or satellite TV providers. (Wall Street Journal)
EBay Had $13 Million In Mobile Revenue
-- How comfortable are consumers getting with mobile e-commerce? eBay had $13 million in mobile revenue on Sunday, up 165% from the same Sunday in 2009. The company's iPhone app has been downloaded over 13 million times. (TechCrunch)
Judge Finds BlueBeat.com Guilty In Beatles Songs Case
-- In case you missed it, a Federal judge ruled that BlueBeat.com is guilty of copyright infringement for selling unauthorized copies of Beatles songs. This outcome wasn't a surprise. The basis for BlueBeat.com's argument could be seen as flimsy even by a layperson.
In 2009, BlueBeat.com started selling digital downloads of songs by the Beatles that is claimed were new recordings the company created through a process called psycho-acoustic simulation. BlueBeat.com actually claimed to own the copyrights on what it considered new audio-visual works. However, EMI won a restraining order against the site in November 2009.
During the court proceedings, BlueBeat.com's owner admitted the "new" versions of the songs were in fact based on copies ripped from CDs. The judge wrote that BlueBeat.com's "pseudo-scientific language appears to be a long-winded way of describing 'sampling,' i.e. copying, and fails to provide any concrete evidence of independent creation." The case will now move on to the damages phase. (AP)
New YouTube Page Offers Trending Videos, Topics
-- YouTube Trends is a new page at YouTube that highlights trending videos and topics. The YouTube Trends Dashboard allows for deeper dives into most-shared and most-watched videos. The dashboard also breaks down those trends by geographic region and viewers' age and gender.
One feature is called "4 at 4," a twice daily (at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.) blog post that highlights the top trending videos at the time. For example, one of the latest "4 at 4" posts had the "We Got More" music video by the band Eskimo as well as a video of a seven-year-old kid rapping a Katy Perry song. (YouTube Trends)