Opinion: Can Sears Be Revived After Eddie Lampert Won Auction Bid, Saving Sears From Liquidation?

Can Sears be revived after Chairman Eddie Lampert won $5.2 billion auction bid to save Sears from liquidation?

When thinking of Sears I got nothing to be excited about! On the top of my head, I don’t even know what I care to want to buy at Sears. Whenever I need new clothes I think about stores like Kohls. Whenever I need new gadgets I think about stores like Amazon. Sometimes, Best Buy and Micro Center make to the top of my head for buying computer related items. Video gaming stuff I would just usually get from an online store like Valve’s Steam. Something needs to be improved for the home, I usually go to Home Depot. I usually go to Home Depot or Best Buy for big items such as the refrigerator. If I need everyday cheap, items I just go to Walmart. I still don’t see what I would need so much that I would rush to Sears to get it.

I think Sears will have a very tough uphill battle even it got itself out of liquidation. In order for Sears to be relevant, I think Sears got very few options. The first option is to find out what makes Sears unique in today competitive online/offline retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. If Sears cannot compete against Best Buy, Amazon, and so forth, then I think Sears needs to go with the second option which is to cater to luxury stuff only. Nonetheless, this would be like completely changing the business model of Sears inside-out. This would mean Sears would not even try to be competitive against brands like Amazon and Best Buy. Instead, Sears would just cater to the rich.

Let’s fantasize how Sears would just cater to the rich would be like OK? Let’s imagine instead of selling a normal refrigerator Sears now sells a gold plated refrigerator. This gold plated refrigerator is one of a kind since very few of them were made. The price is around $25,000. The refrigerator is not only gold plated, but it is also a tech hub center for the kitchen where the large glassy part of the refrigerator door could go translucent so you can interact with it like a smart TV or a computer. It also got a smart AI assistant to help stock up the refrigerator when something is about to run out. In this scenario, normal people wouldn’t buy this refrigerator since it’s too expensive and luxurious. Wealthy people though, they could buy this refrigerator without blinking twice.

If Sears targets the rich, then its business model would be completely different than before! The stuff Sears needs to carry in the store are going to be totally different than before. Furthermore, when targeting the rich Sears may not even need to care about being competitive against other players at all. How come? I think buying luxurious stuff is an experience! A few clicks of the mouse through online stores won’t get you the experience! Instead, I can see rich people would drive their supercar or Rolls Royce to Sears, get greeted by super friendly and helpful staff — feeling like a king when buying something — and feeling like a king when leaving Sears store afterward. Such an experience you would never get from online stores or from the stores that cater to the middle-income class. Sears can go this route to stay profitable even though Sears won’t be competitive against players such as Amazon.

Of course, there is always a third route which is to use the old model but providing better customer service. Nonetheless, I don’t see how Sears can stay competitive and relevant when people don’t have the need to go to Sears. Sears could learn from Kohls even though Kohls is just a retailer for clothing. Why? I think Kohls is really good at attracting me to buy clothes from its online store! Kohls got discount programs such as Kohls Cash, and these programs somehow encourage me to spend more. Although Kohls doesn’t provide free shipping unless you buy more than $75 worth of items (if I’m remembering this correctly), but this somehow encourages me to spend more than $75. Kohls always announces a new clearance sale, and so it’s like Christmas all over again. If Sears can learn how to give out discount like Kohls does, I think Sears can begin to become relevant in no time. Nonetheless, Sears must carry the stuff that when giving out discounts it does make sense for people to care to buy. Yep, even on discount, unwanted stuff won’t get sold.

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Speechless

This poem depicts the feeling that I had when I got to read the grueling content therein of “THAILAND: Muslims in the South are slaughtering Buddhists in order to ethnically cleanse the area (WARNING: Graphic Images)” blog post.  I condemn (although I’m a nobody) all violences!!!  I don’t see how any violence would solve anything, because violences in general only breeds more violences.  Of course, the argument goes that if one side would do enough terrors, more so than the other side, then the other side will give up in terror.  I doubt that will be the case if the other side doesn’t have a choice in defending themselves.  Plus, violence such as killing is so uncivilized, and here I thought we humans are better than this.  Aren’t we nowadays have easier access to education than centuries ago?  Aren’t we humans know what peace mean?  If peace mean peace, why on earth peace has to let violence leads the way?  Sure, you can say violence first, peace after, but I refute such a thought.  To me, violence first means hatred can be spread farther…  there is no guaranty that violence first can solve anything.  Nonetheless, if all sides use peace first, only peace can derive from peace.  It is almost, if not 100%, a guaranty that peace will always derive from peace.  I think killing is the worst of the worst that there is for being human.  Killing will never be justified for anything.  If a God wants someone to kill another human being, he/she doesn’t deserve to be my God!  Period!!!  Us humans face tough life from the day we born, certainly we don’t really need violence to be the additional bit to the tough life equation.  Survival of day to day life is already so tough, because not everyone is lucky to be born into a wealthy family or meeting the best opportunity in life.  Most likely, many people will be sweating their ass off just to make ends meet.  The unfortunates might have to face terminal diseases.  Yet here we have senseless killing in the name of God.  It’s just plain wrong!  Isn’t a spiritual belief supposed to be peaceful?  I think I should rephrase that!  Aren’t all spiritual beliefs supposed to be peaceful?  Anyhow, if you like, please enjoy the poem right after the break!

  • Rumor had it,
  • or the truth had it,
  • whatever had it.
  • Nonetheless, I had read it.
  • Got disgusted!
  • I cringed at it!
  • Feeling ill just to picture it!
  • Got disgusted!
  • I cringed at it!
  • Such sadistic!
  • Got disgusted!
  • Idiotic!
  • Only animals would do it!
  • Got disgusted!
  • Speechless!!!
  • Not a single word can define it.
  • Sadistic!
  • Animalistic!
  • And yet I just know about it.
  • Shaking my fist at this animalistic shit!
  • Idiots!
  • Got disgusted!
  • Only animals would do it.
  • I got mad as hell at this animalistic shit!
  • Nonetheless, one thinks of it,
  • what goes around comes around, isn’t it?

Fumbling At The Thought What Might Happen When Facebook Will Charge For Basic Services

According to HuffingtonPost.com, a rumor about how Facebook might charge its hundreds of millions of users for basic services has gone viral.  Pause!  Let me think, tick tock – tick tock…  OK, if Facebook begins to charge for its FREE services, then many many things might happen, but the ending of the world won’t be one of them!

When Facebook begins to charge for its basic services:

  • Online dating websites will go out of business, because dating on Facebook is way cooler!
  • Making new friend connection in Facebook suddenly becomes very valuable in term of dollars.
  • Poking me in Facebook with one of those poke me and I poke you back kind of app game will cost you real money, because you cannot poke me without paying for Facebook account!
  • How can I like a story on Internet and share with my friends without paying for Facebook account, right?  So, either people will stop liking stuffs on Internet and go completely hermitical on such activities, or they have to pay up for liking someone else stuffs on the Internet!
  • Some people might think about midlife crisis, because their digital coolness cannot be so cool if they cannot afford a Facebook account!  Guys, girls won’t care if you have old cars, but without a Facebook account, you won’t be able to hang out with them in the digital world — perhaps the real world too!

Of course I can rant on about what might happen if Facebook decides to charge for its free basic services, but I’m kind of tiring for having to go on and on about this…  In the end, I think the world will not end if Facebook is really going to do this, assuming the rumor suddenly becomes true for some oddest reasons ever!  Like saying the sun won’t rise tomorrow!  Then again, it might be a good thing if Facebook begins charging for its basic services, because real friends will pay to friend with you in Facebook, right?  Perhaps?  Perhaps?  Perhaps?  (Spammers stay away from you and advertisers know you’re willing to spend!)

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/facebook-charging-rumor_n_891548.html

Can A Non-Fish-Tank Ecosystem Of Apps Be A Better Environment For App Users and App Developers?

Apps are great and addictive, but come to think of it, I think apps are a confusing mesh.  Apple has way too many apps on its App Store.  Google’s Android is even worse, because from what I heard, Google’s Android platform is very fragmented.  Way too many Android users are not updating to the latest version of the Android OS, and so Android app developers don’t really know the exact standards to base their apps on, but incredibly there are way too many apps for Android platform.  To make matter worse, several tech news sites report that there are too many duplicate apps or spam apps (i.e., worthless apps) float inside Android’s app marketplace.  I’m pretty sure Windows Phone 7 platform will eventually be flooded with too many apps, especially Microsoft is becoming Nokia’s next best friend while we speak.

The problem is not about unable to find the perfect apps, but the problem is that there are way too many apps.  The instant gratification of acquiring an app is easily overlooked, and the price of an app is low enough that users won’t be able to temper themselves from a sweet app.  Before the users know it, they probably have downloaded way too many apps, but worse that they probably had bought way too many useless apps.  Sometimes, many apps boast big, but it turns out the users were duped into buying worthless apps.  Of course, many users think a dollar or five dollars worthless app is not worth their time to pursue a complaint, but many cheap worthless apps will eventually add up a bigger sum of cost.

Besides the costs and the little values that many apps dupe users into buying them, more app marketplaces equate to fragmentation volume of apps.  By this I mean some good apps can only be found on one marketplace but not on another.  This is not how I envision a future of a more harmonic app ecosystem, because right now apps are so fragmented to a point that a user wants to use an app, he or she better be on the right mobile platform or else.  I prefer a more harmonic environment where any mobile platform can use the same apps.  For now, it seems as if we are living in the past instead of the now or even the future where we have so often wish to envision as a better tomorrow for applications in general; at the moment, really useful apps don’t necessary appear on all app marketplaces — effectively shutting out mobile users who really need such apps.  It seems as if each individual app is bounded to a specific fish tank, and each fish tank among variety of them contains incompatible apps.

All in all, I think the Web has a solution all along.  Instead of this app and that app for this mobile platform and that mobile platform, isn’t it better for all apps to be made available over the Web?  Perhaps, this is why browsers may become evermore important.  As we notice, many browsers of today promote standardization.  HTML 5 is a perfect example of how browsers will all become very similar in supporting key features of web applications.  Still, we probably will never be able to get rid of spam apps and the problem of too many worthless apps that will flood an app ecosystem, but at least the Web can steer app users away from a fish-tank ecosystem of apps.

The non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps is probably an attractive one to app developers, because everything could be standardized and allow app developers to concentrate on developing good apps and not wasting their times in figuring out how to make each app compatible to all mobile platforms.  Standardizing an app ecosystem allows app developers to save costs and produce apps faster.  Saving costs and rolling out apps faster and making their apps available to all mobile users may translate into bigger bottom lines for many app developers.  Even if each browser behaves a little differently, inherently each browser is more similar to each other than in the case of each mobile platform.  This speaks huge volume as app developers don’t have to spend greater energy and costs to appease each mobile platform, because it probably will be a lot easier for app developers to smooth out the quirks among the browsers.

Whether it be a smartphone or a tablet or a computer, security will always be important for these hardware platforms.  Even if it’s a fish-tank ecosystem of apps, the potential for a nightmarish security situation is still possible.  After all, it’s not the hardware platform creators themselves are the ones provide all the apps.  As everything goes in this world, there are good people and there are bad people.  The same thing can be said about app developers.  Either intentionally or unintentionally, bad apps with insecure source codes can provide bugs to be exploited by hackers — eventually may lead to a compromise of a platform by the hackers.

Yes, it maybe that a non-fish-tank ecosystem will have a less secure environment, because besides of making the platforms easier to work with for app developers, it may also make it easier for hackers to concentrate in hacking such platforms.  This is why whether it be a fish-tank or non-fish-tank ecosystem, security will always be important in this regard.  Still, this cannot be an excuse for not loving a non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps, because the benefits may outweigh the costs.  In the end, the users are the ones who will drive the app marketplaces forward.  This is why it’s so important to please the users in a way that make all apps more accessible on all platforms (i.e., hardware and software platforms).

Side note:  About the argument of Flash will be wiped off the Web by HTML5, I think this scenario might happen, but it might be something else too.  Why?  Perhaps, we never know that one day Flash can provide better features that are more fitted with app developers if the day of apps are going to be mainly concentrated over the Web, instead of inside a fish-tank ecosystem of apps.  Sadly though, it’s rather a wishful thinking on my side somewhat, because Flash is notorious for hogging computing resources — this can lead into shorter battery lifespan for mobile gadgets.  Until Flash can provide better management for computing resources and better security environment, I don’t see a good reason for mobile platforms to champion Flash over HTML5.  Losing out a huge mobile market can signal a bigger problem for Flash on desktop market, because people can just replace Flash with HTML5.  Unless Flash asserts itself in a way that people cannot do without Flash whether it be on mobile devices or on desktop computers, I don’t see how Flash will be able to win the hearts of users in its war against HTML5.

In summary, I think a non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps is going to work better for everyone who involves with app marketplaces, albeit the ones that may dislike this idea most are the hardware platform providers (e.g., Apple, Google, Microsoft) for obvious reasons (i.e., exclusivity).  App developers are going to have an easier time to work with a more harmonic app ecosystem such as a non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps.  App developers may make more money and save costs in non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps.  App users never have to worry about incompatibility, because all apps will work on all platforms — whether it be a mobile platform or a desktop platform.  Talking about how the information can become evermore portable since one app can work in all platforms in non-fish-tank ecosystem of apps.  Lastly, you can never have enough security, and so security software should be made available for mobile users (we already know computer users have the ability to choose among well known security software such as Norton Security Suite).

The Rise Of Mobile Games May Hurt The Economy Of The Traditional Game Industry

Apple’s famous mobile gadgets (e.g., iPhone, iPad 1 & 2) enable iOS developers to create tons of mobile games that are less intensive and less serious in terms of gameplay and game experiences in general. Other competitors of Apple are getting serious about churning out their own versions of mobile gadgets to furthermore popularize the mobile game industry. Is this a good thing? Yes, and no I think.

Personally, I love the idea of playing wide variety of mobile games (i.e., games designed for mobile gadgets), because these games are easier to access and less demanding on time. Mobile gadgets users usually carry their devices with them most of the time; during the day when they have some spare time, firing up their mobile games can be easy as eating cakes, and when the daily activities require their supervisions, they can just disconnect from the mobile games. They always know that these mobile games can be easily resumed at the gaming moments they had disconnected from.

Looking at the big picture, I think the popularity of mobile games may hurt the traditional game industry. Of course I can be dead wrong on this, and so I hope the future would mock me unabashedly. The traditional game industry is known for serious gameplay and intensive graphic game experiences. Of course, there are less serious games from traditional game industry that can be easily ported to mobile game industry. The big picture tells me that if mobile games are so easy to cash in and require less resources to push them out, many talented game developers from the traditional game industry may join the mobile game industry and don’t have enough time to dedicatedly tend to the traditional game industry.

You can argue that I’m worrying for nothing, because the traditional game industry and the mobile game industry are not the same, these are apples and oranges. I beg the differences, because when an average gamer makes time for games in each day or week, he or she has to prioritize certain games over many other games. We can picture that hardcore gamers of the traditional game industry take up the novel experience by playing more mobile games. Furthermore, many potential gamers (i.e., new gamers) may have had went or will join the gaming tradition of playing games on consoles and PCs and laptops, but now they have the alternative choice (i.e., mobile games) to ponder on. Simply put, less potential gamers and more competitors in the gaming space may hurt the traditional game industry big time.

The whole point of this post is to point out the fear of the lack of developments for games on consoles and PCs and laptops. There is a chance that my worry for the traditional game industry is uncalled for, because game giants such as Blizzard are sitting on mountains of cash from past legacies (e.g., World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Diablo) — being wealthier than most game developers may allow these game giants to push in both fronts (i.e., traditional and mobile game Industry) with equal force. Adding more confidence for traditional game industry, Microsoft’s Kinect is definitely attracting so many gamers who like the idea of using their whole bodies as game controllers. Of course, Kinect’s potential goes beyond the gaming space, but in general it’s very persuasive for gaming.

In conclusion, as mobile games rise in popularity, a collision between the mobile game industry and the traditional one is unavoidable, however small or large such a collision may be. Let hope such collision will end up with a more positive gaming environment for all. Personally, I don’t like mobile games as much as traditional games, because gaming experiences are better on consoles, PCs, and laptops. Nonetheless, I have to say I tend to play more mobile games nowadays, because it is too easy to make time for mobile games and you can play them everywhere you go.