Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cost of ESLs (Electronic Shelf Labels)

Here's an article that provides more background on electronic shelf labels and the investment required:

"It’s a big investment. While shelf displays start at only about $5 each, the cost of outfitting a single store can top six figures for big-box retailers that carry tens of thousands of products in each location. Pricer’s U.S. business has been mostly with furniture, wine and book retailers."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The evolution of recommendation systems

Great TechCrunch article on the evolution of recommendation systems:

"Just think about how different the experience would be if Netflix didn’t offer future titles to watch, or Amazon didn’t offer alternative products to purchase? What about suggested connections on Facebook and LinkedIn, or news recommendations on Yahoo? None of these would be possible without RS, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Using Big Data to Gain a Competitive Advantage in Retail

Here's a cool infographic about how retailers can use big data to gain a competitive advantage, now that competition has become more fierce with the ease of online price comparison services.

Android Antitrust Issues

Related to the discussion last class about the Android OS, here's an article about how the FTC is looking into complaints about how Google is using Android to bolster its other services (Maps and Search).

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Power of Free

As a follow up to the discussion last class about zero pricing, here's a great NPR podcast on the power of free.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple and Ad blockers

Great article about the controversy over ad-blocking and monetization of online content:

"Indirect models for making money, especially advertising, reduce the drag on network effects that would come from trying to charge each individual user a price that matched their particular level of value for a particular piece of content. (...) The real resolution to this fight may come from another set of innovations — although whether they arrive in time is far from clear. "

Uber and the declining value of Taxi medallions

Interesting article about the effects of Uber on medallion values:

"In Chicago, which has the country's second biggest fleet with roughly 7,000 taxis, the median sale price for a medallion hovered around $70,000 in 2007 before reaching a median sales peak of $357,000 in late 2013.
Since reaching that high point more than a year ago, the value of medallions in the Windy City have sharply declined and sales have ground to a near halt—with the city recording only seven medallion transfers in the first quarter of 2015—as the median sale price fell to about $270,000."

Friday, September 18, 2015

What would happen if Uber didn't have surge pricing?

Another study by Hall, Kendrick, and Nosko explores what would happen when Uber surge pricing doesn't exist, by exploiting a natural experiment caused by a surge outage on New Year's Eve during a period of high demand. They concluded that:

"we saw that in the absence of surge pricing, key indicators of the health of the marketplace deteriorated dramatically. Drivers were likely less attracted to the platform while, at the same time, riders requested rides in increasing numbers because the price mechanism was not forcing them to make the proper economic tradeoff between the true availability of driver ­partners and an alternative transportation option. Because of these problems, completion rates fell dramatically and wait times increased, causing a failure of the system from an economic efficiency perspective." 

More info on Uber's blog. Thanks to Val Lee for the link!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Uber is on growth fast track

Here are some very recent numbers on Uber's revenue (LA Times):

"Total ride-share bookings are showing explosive growth, from $688 million in 2013 to a projected $10.84 billion this year and $26.12 billion next. That's nearly 38 times bigger in just four years."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NYC Respond to Uber with New App

To follow up on our conversation in class yesterday about Uber, it looks like NYC taxis have launched an app to compete with Uber. Interestingly, the app will not have surge pricing - instead only relying on metered pricing. How might this affect the real-time ride sharing market?

You can find an article about the app details here, or check out the app website at

Extinction of Websites?

Here's an article that argues that most individual publishers won't be able to make enough advertising revenue from their websites, and that the future of publishing is in platforms such as Medium.

Thanks to Lakshmi Kannan for the link!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Taxes on Digital Goods

Because many states are not yet taxing digital goods, this has caused a decline in tax revenues as sales of physical products (such as DVDs) decline. This article discusses new taxation policies states are considering, such as taxes on digital subscriptions and cloud computing services. Should taxation policies on digital goods mirror those on physical goods or not?

Digital Video Streaming Market

This article provides a brief overview of the digital video streaming market which includes firms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Are there too many players in the market right now or could it sustain more than a few big players?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Humanizing Technology: A History of Human-Computer Interaction

Great post on the frontier of Human-Computer Interaction:

"I think human-computer interaction designs have had as much impact as Moore’s Law in bringing the web and mobile devices to the world,"

Barclays is experimenting with bitcoin

Great article on Bitcoin, which we will cover in 15.567:

"There’s been a surge in interest in bitcoin among Wall Street banks. Most are interested in the underlying technology, the main feature of which is the open ledger called the blockchain. The thinking is an open, public ledger that’s run by and maintained across a network of connected, distributed computers could offer significant benefits in transaction costs and settlement times".

Information Technology and Superstar teachers

Very interesting article on teachers selling their material online and becoming millionaires. Another example of how software is eating the world and how more and more sectors of the economy are affected.
"By selling tens of thousands of items, he says, 12 teachers on the site have become millionaires and nearly 300 teachers have earned more than $100,000. On any given day, the site has about 1.7 million lesson plans, quizzes, work sheets, classroom activities and other items available, typically for less than $5. Last month alone, Mr. Freed added, more than one million teachers in the United States downloaded material, including free and fee-based products, from the site"