By The Numbers - Most Recent
The numbers for July 17, 2013: Shape up
The number of refund checks being mailed to purchasers of Skechers Shape-up shoes. Earlier this year, Skechers agreed to pay a $40 million settlement for advertising unfounded claims that the shoes toned thighs, butts and abs. (CNN Money)
Bank industry profits are on the up and up, while tech companies ... not so much. Bank of America reported profits up 63 percent for the period April-June. Yesterday, Yahoo's earnings missed the mark slightly. Intel and Ebay are expected to post muted earnings as well today. (NYT)
ESPN is looking to clean up the discourse on its website. After permitting anonymous comments for over five years, the site is requiring posters to sign in via Facebook. (Marketplace)
The numbers for July 16, 2013: ... The last word
Coca-Cola said its profits were down 4 percent in the April-June period. The company blamed economic malaise and lousy weather that didn't drive people to drink ... soft drinks. (Bloomberg)
New data from the Pew Research Center says digital tools -- smartphones, social media, Google -- may be helping students. 78 percent of teachers say they “encourage student creativity and personal expression.” Maybe now parents can stop worrying so much about the competing trend towards informal writing ... YOLO. (Pew)
A conservative think tank in Britain has offered a big cash prize for the most compelling argument for why Britain would be better off if it abandoned the European Union. The so-called Brexit Prize is 100,000 ... euros. (The Independent)
AT&T's new user plan: Buy another phone!
For the past decade, the big U.S. wireless carriers have been long-term commitment matchmakers, of a sort. In order to get you to buy expensive phones for affordable prices, cell phone companies have convinced customers to 'tie the knot' with their fancy new gadgets. Now, it seems, cell phone companies are becoming more like divorce attorneys. They want you to break up with your phone.
One week after wireless carrier T-Mobile announced a Smartphone-upgrades-allowed plan, AT&T has come out with its own competing plan. The details and requirements and costs for AT&T's plan are different than T-Mobile's Jump, but it has in common the ability to upgrade your phone more often, instead of locking customers in to long-term plans. Why are all the phone companies making the same decisions? Mobile phone analyst Tero Kuittinen told the New York Times that the problem is there are no 'killer' features in new phones and so users aren't upgrading as frequently:
“We’re entering a barrier of slow innovation,” Mr. Kuittinen, with Alekstra, said. “We’ve reached the limits of the camera and display.” Traditional cellphones with black and white screens had a similar slowdown before color displays came out, he added.
The numbers for July 15, 2013: Numbers on the 1's
China's GDP growth slowed in the second quarter of 2013 -- to 7.5 percent, China's weakest rate since 1991. (Marketplace)
The mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania's capital city, has installed a giant video screen to display the happiness level of residents on a scale of 1-10, a "Happiness Barometer". Just one concern: recent polling of happiness in 58 countries shows Lithuania practically dead last. (Reuters)
Just after it was discovered that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling used a pseudonym to publish "The Cuckoo's Calling", the book shot up to the number one spot on Amazon and is now back ordered for 10-14 days. (Publisher's Weekly)