Friday (uh) Thursday News Chum: iPhones, iPods, Hummers, Caltrans, Supermarket Wars, & Tax Increases

Today’s the last day of the conference, and as I’m getting on the road immediately afterwards, I thought I would share some chum from this morning’s reading of the news:

  • From the “At Least It’s Not an Edsel” Department: The NY Times is reporting how the iPhone is overloading the AT&T networks. My favorite part of the article is the line, “Slim and sleek as it is, the iPhone is really the Hummer of cellphones.” Irrespective of the iPhone issue, its interesting to note how certain car names become symbolic of greater woes. The Edsel is representative of something that just was a bad idea, badly designed, badly executed. The Gremlin is an idea that goes up in flames far too easy. The Hummer is something that just wastes too many resources.
  • From the “Making Hay While The Sun Shines” Department: This weekend the Bay Bridge is being closed while some major work is being done. What’s interesting is that Caltrans is doing it right. While the span is being replaced, they are taking advantage of the closure to do other repair work and train first responders. For all we complain that the government gets things wrong, it is nice to note when they get things right (and why I like the conference this week, which is all about another area where the government is getting things right).
  • From the “It’s Dead, Bill” Department: Microsoft is killing the Zune, discontinuing it once the Zune HD comes out. For me, the interesting part of the article is related to Apple, “Does the Zune’s discontinuation signal the end of the iPod Classic, as Gizmodo posits? I don’t think so. Even though iPod sales fell 7 percent in the last quarter compared to 2008, Apple still sold 10.2 million iPods.” The thing about the iPod Classic is capacity. There is no other music player out there with a triple-digit GB capacity. When I fill up my 80GB iPod, I’ll likely replace it with a 120GB iPod.
  • From the “It’s a War” Department: Evidently, an old staple of SoCal is back: the Supermarket Price War. Worried about the loss of customers to Walmart and Target, LA area supermarkets are lowering prices. Of course, many of us won’t notice, as we’ve just given up on them, moving to TJ’s instead. The surprising thing in the article were the statistics: Ralphs is the largest chain, controlling 18.2% of the grocery market in Los Angeles and Orange counties through the first quarter of this year. Vons is second with just under 14.8%. Albertsons is third with 12.4% and Trader Joe’s is fourth with 6.3%. Stater Bros., which has a greater concentration in the Inland Empire, is No. 5 with 6.1%.
  • From the “Manipulating Taxes for Fun and Profit” Department: Lastly, a report of how politicians are under manipulation pressure to protect industries. We’ve seen it before in the health-care debacle, where the pressure to get rid of the public option is coming from the private insurers who do not want the competition. The LA Times is reporting on how the cable industry is pushing to add a 5% tax on satellite TV, to match the 5% tax they have to pay for digging in the streets and stringing poles. Never mind that satellite don’t need to build that infrastructure. The cable companies just want it to protect their industry. Will a cash-strapped legislature bow to the pressure? Stay tuned. They may sneak it under the radar: Cable’s tax-the-other-guy proposal is being shopped to legislators with the idea of adding it to a noncontroversial bill, currently focused on Indian gambling, that is close to winning final passage and being sent to the governor.

[Edited: This was originally “Friday News Chum”. Attribute it to a brain slip.]