mind the gap: blog
The Pursuit of gappyness
Hey there blog readers! My name’s Matt and I’m one of the new(er) gappers here at gap intelligence, although I’ve been working in Data Operations for almost 9 months now. That being said, I’m not going to give you the standard biographical introduction you may have come to expect from newbies, I’ll just keep that part brief… I am a native Southern Californian who was born and raised in Pasadena, attended college at UC Santa Barbara (olé, Gauchos!), and stayed in SB after I graduated until a little over 8 years ago when I relocated to San Diego.
But given the fact that I’ve been with gap for nearly a year already and a rundown of my personal background doesn’t seem quite fitting anymore, I’m going to take the opportunity to reflect upon this past year for my very first blog post instead. I’m sure you’ve all heard the old expression, “what a difference a (insert unit of time here) makes.” And although it’s an overused cliché, I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced as much positive change in a given unit of time as I have over the last year.
Flash back to March 2013, and you’ll find me going through a bit of a rough patch. At the time, I was working at a job I had been becoming increasingly dissatisfied with. My morale was at an all-time low, I found myself experiencing feelings of dread just commuting to work each day and, to make matters worse, there didn’t seem to be any real end in sight. That is until one day, almost exactly a year ago, I realized that I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided that resignation and subsequent unemployment were more appealing options than staying there. And since I wound up leaving my job with no contingency plan whatsoever, the months that followed were, needless to say, pretty stressful. I became frustrated with the lack of job prospects, and anxious about what would happen if my reserves ran dry. Long story short, I always understood that my decision would put me into a challenging situation, but things were not going as ideally as I had hoped. And that was just my professional life…
In terms of my personal life, things were thankfully going a little bit better. I had recently started dating an amazing girl and everything seemed to be just perfect. We had already felt that instant connection old couples talk about when they say “don’t go looking for it, it’ll just happen” or “when you know, you know” and never looked back. I was, however, somewhat concerned about how the decision to leave my job might affect our still-budding relationship. My girlfriend was admittedly opposed to my decision, but agreed to stand behind it to give me a sense of support. Still, I feared that she may learn to resent me or think of me as an underachiever who’s work ethic didn’t meet her standards. After all, I had just quit a steady job with no backup plan in mind, so who was I to know if she’d accuse me of being lazy or opportunistic now that I had a significant other to mooch off of?
At any rate, I knew I needed to find a job. But I didn’t want my next job to be one that would eventually place me in the same predicament, meeting the end of my rope and quitting because I couldn’t see any other alternative. And despite the urgency to find employment quickly, I also didn’t want to simply focus on applying for positions I met the “minimum requirements” for. This time, I really needed to find a job and employer that were a perfect fit for me… Somewhere that would provide me with so much more than just a paycheck… A place with a company culture and value system that I could totally relate to… A job that would feel like more than just, well, a job.
So while I scoured the job listings for opportunities I was not only qualified for, but that also met the personal criteria I had set for myself, I decided to adopt a new strategy for my search this time around as well. I thought about the friends of mine who seemed to love their jobs the most, and reached out to them directly. That’s when I contacted Erin, a resident gapper and the company’s unofficial social media guru, who was a friend of mine from the college days. I had already been noticing it for quite some time, but Erin always seemed to be posting something on Facebook that made gap intelligence seem like an awesome place to work, whether it was information about an upcoming charity event, photos from a fun company outing, or just tons of smiling faces. It was obvious to me that Erin loved where she worked, and it seemed like the “fit” I was looking for as well. Unfortunately, gap didn’t have any positions available at the time, but I asked Erin to think about me if anything ever opened up.
About a month later, Erin texted me to let me know a position had become available. She asked me to send her a copy of my resume and I immediately did. Shortly thereafter I was contacted to schedule an interview, so again I referred to Erin for any input or information she could provide as I prepared. I remember her telling me at the time that gap is really big on people with genuine passion for something, and that they hire based on if they feel like you’d fit within their unique work culture because, as she put it, “the job itself can be learned over time.” Hold the phone, here was an employer that emphasized passion and compatibility above the actual day-to-day functions of the job?! It dawned on me that this was a company looking for the same qualities in new hires that I was looking for in an employer.
Well as luck would have it, gap and I turned out to be a match for one another and I was hired on after two interviews. Upon hire, the first actual exposure I had to the company was at their annual gapCon event, where I was fortunate enough to hear the history of gap and how it was originally established. It turned out that, Gary, our founder and fearless leader, similarly left a certain “situation” in order to pursue something that was a better fit for him. When he founded gap intelligence, he had a vision of creating a company that was unique, values-led, and passionate. This immediately and obviously resonated with me, and I knew right then that I had found the exact type of place I had been looking for all along. And although I’ve only been here for about 9 months of it myself, in the 11 years since gap was born, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Gary has accomplished his vision.
I won’t go into detail about what life at gap has been like for me since then, but I will say that I’ve felt more challenged, encouraged, appreciated, and embraced in less than a year here than I ever did at any previous employer. This company has already taught me that a job can be so much more than just “work,” and that a working environment that runs more like a community can be the difference between “how will I ever get through this week?” and “what can I do to impact our next 5 years?”
Similarly, I’ve noticed a shift in my thinking as far as relationships go over the last year as well. My girlfriend and I are still going strong, and I’m happy to report that the woman I was worried might think of me as a slacker 12 months ago and I are now talking about moving in together instead. I guess you could say that my life has gotten much more serious both personally and professionally over the last year, but it’s for all the best reasons. While I used to pretty much live one day at a time and not think too much about the future, now I find myself not only thinking about it, but being genuinely excited for it as well. I now have a companion and a job that I care for both very much, and I’ve come to realize that it’s not just me I have to think about anymore. Now I’m seeing the bigger picture and understanding that the actions and choices I make today can and will impact the future at both my job and in my relationship, and it’s absolutely awesome. The events of the last year have given me a renewed sense of perspective, purpose, and true happiness. So thank you, 20-lucky-number-13 (with honorable mention going to Q1 2014), for shaping up to be an amazing 12 months!
Now, for the next 12… What’ve you got for me?
HP Takes Lead in Touchscreen Laptop Market
Since the arrival of Windows 8 in October 2012, the notebook industry has been adopting touchscreens at an alarming rate. In fact, touch-enabled notebooks now account for 56% of total notebook placements in the US retail channel. What a difference a year-and-a-half makes!
Acer and Asus embraced touch functionality faster than any other manufacturers and claimed first-mover advantage. However, since touchscreen panel production capacities were low, the costs made the first wave of touchscreen laptops very expensive. The prohibitive prices, in addition to negative reaction to Windows 8′s new interface, made for weak sales, which negatively impacted the early adopters. In an earnings call, CEO Jason Chen attributed the company’s recent losses to investing too early in touchscreens and Ultrabooks, admitting that Acer “took the initiative more aggressively than anybody else, to the point where we got hurt.”
Over the last year, panel costs have come down dramatically and more manufacturers have devoted significant portions of their retail assortments to touch-enabled models. In September, in particular, HP took advantage of lower panel costs and released a wave of low-cost Pavilion TouchSmart configurations throughout the retail channel, which caught Acer and others flat-footed. Using our handy new PowerPivot tool, we can see how dramatic that shift was.
HP now has 35% shelf share in the touchscreen notebook market, up from 8% just a year ago. Consumers are beginning to view touchscreens as a standard feature, rather than a luxury, and pricing has followed suit. For some configurations, the cost of upgrading to a touchscreen has declined from over $100 to less than $50. Over the last several months, HP has brought touchscreens to even its entry-level offerings including its new 15 TouchSmart series, which has been advertised for prices as low as $369 (Staples) and $379 (Best Buy).
While the weak economy makes it hard to justify buying a high-priced Ultrabook, more affordable touchscreen laptops are now the norm and will be especially visible during the upcoming back-to-school selling season. Even long-time holdouts like Chromebooks and large 17-inch laptops are beginning to adopt touch functionality, making the non-touch models look like outliers. As tablets grow in popularity, prices come down, and new touch technologies emerge, manufacturers may find it hard to justify not including a touchscreen in their future notebooks.
second annual Drives for Rides golf tournament!!
gap intelligence is a values-led company. We care. We care about our clients, about each other, and about our community. Our Time, Talent, and Treasure committee (3Ts) is driven to inspire community impact through charitable opportunities. On May 2, 2014, we will be hosting the second annual Drives for Rides golf tournament to benefit the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF), a local non-profit here in San Diego that navigates families through their child’s journey with cancer.
Inspired by their son Emilio, Richard and Diane founded ENF in 2003 to help provide critical logistical support to families with a child fighting cancer. In 2013, Richard Nares was nominated as one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of the Year!
Drives for Rides is an opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves and to make a lasting impact on our local community. Our Drives for Rides goal is to raise over $15,000 for ENF, which goes directly to helping families and their children fighting cancer.
While we are well on our way, we need your help!!
Tournament will be played as a 4 person Florida Scramble (best ball)
Single Green Fee: $150 / Foursomes $600 and includes green fee, cart with GPS, player gift bag, awesome prizes, drinks, dinner, opportunity drawing and auction!
how can YOU help?:
We need everything. We need players. We need prizes for our players and we need sponsors. We need it all. We’ll take donations of all shapes and sizes. The players could use water bottles on the tee boxes. We need refreshments for our carts, sponsorships to give directly to ENF, and we need awesome prizes for our various games, raffles, and silent auctions.
sponsors & prize donations
First a Thank You to those who have already donated.
- Yoga Six
- Grissom Law Firm
- Gemini Energy Services
- Omni Hotel
- Sushi Freak
- Mission San Juan Capistrano
- Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
- Outback Steakhouse
- La Jolla Playhouse
- Point Loma Tea
- Callaway Winery
- Polish Me Nails
- Remember to Breathe
- Hornblower Cruises
If you are able to donate a prize of any kind (we’ll take them all), please contact email@example.com or give us a call at 619-574-1100.
Contact: Katie Hess at 619-574-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsorships and registration can be made online at: Kennedy Golf
- Title Sponsor: $7,500 (includes 2-foursomes in tournament)
- Major Sponsor: $5,000 (includes 1-foursome in tournament)
- Tournament Sponsor: $2,500
- Hole in One Insurance Sponsor: $1,000
- Beverage Sponsor: $500
- Hole Sponsor: $250/hole
Thank you very much for your interest and support. The tournament and sponsorship of the Emilio Nares Foundation is an endeavor that gap intelligence is very proud to undertake.
Let’s touch a child’s life and leave a legacy beyond our years.
About the Emilio Nares Foundation
Richard and Diane Nares lost their only son, Emilio Nares, to cancer when he was 5-years-old. Turning tragedy into hope, the Nares family created the Emilio Nares foundation (ENF) in 2003. ENF provides a variety of programs and services for low-income, underprivileged families whose child has cancer. ENF’s flagship program, Ride With Emilio, is a transportation service in southern California. At this time no other transportation exists that is dedicated to the unique socio-economic needs of low-income families whose children must access cancer treatment on time, but cannot due specifically to transportation barriers. The Ride With Emilio program has virtually eliminated missed appointments due to transportation challenges among the patients served. Ride with Emilio has been recognized as a model program by the U.S. Surgeon General and President Obama. We are a 501C3 tax-exempt organization. All donations to the Emilio Nares Foundation are tax deductible. Learn more about ENF: www.ENFHope.org
Defining the Industry, One Cartridge Type at a Time
The aftermarket cartridge industry has long struggled with terminology. Cartridges can be called remanufactured (remans), reconditioned, rebuilt, compatible, new build, non-OEM… the list goes on. The BSA last month announced its approval of a new standard definition for a remanufactured cartridge to help with clarification, but will it be enough to generate industry-wide adoption and use and eventually ensure that all products are characterized correctly?
For a little background, the Business Solution Association (BSA) in October set out to define what constitutes a remanufactured cartridge and released a draft to elicit feedback from the general public. In January, the standard was approved, published, and made available to the industry.
At this point you may be saying to yourself, that’s great, but who is the BSA?
The BSA is a trade association that represents manufacturers, wholesalers, and manufacturer representatives in the business products and related industries. The group aims to develop industry standards, best practices, and technological advances to drive growth and success for its members through networking, education and innovative ideas. While the BSA itself is not instantly recognizable, several of its members are some big names in the cartridge industry, including Clover Technologies, Supplies Network, United Stationers, and SP Richards.
Why are they doing this now?
If you took a random poll asking people to define what a remanufactured cartridge is, you would probably get a hundred different answers. The overall theme of the definition would likely be the same, but there would be notable differences. Prior to October, the industry lacked a standard description of how to define a remanufactured cartridge, which has resulted in confusion and misuse of the word. With the new standard, the Association’s primary goals are to first and foremost to establish a definition that distinguishes remanufactured cartridges from everything else, while also eliminating terms that are interchangeably used to describe both remanufactured products and non-remanufactured alternatives. This should in-turn help producers understand how to market and categorize cartridges, reduce consumer confusion around what they are purchasing, and help prevent the sale of cartridges that may violate laws and GEOs (general exclusion orders).
So how did the BSA define a remanufactured cartridge?
The standard defines a remanufactured cartridge as “an original OEM cartridge that has been previously used and the marking substance consumed, and then is subsequently collected in the United States , inspected, cleaned, had new or reconditioned parts installed, re-filled with ink or toner, and quality tested so that its capability to print has been restored”. The standard also provides several guidelines on how to market a remanufactured product so that the message is explicitly clear.
Going back to the goal of eliminating the use of certain terms interchangeably, the standard dictates that a remanufactured cartridge should not be referred to as a “replacement, reconditioned, refurbished, rebuilt, compatible, new compatible, newly remanufactured, newly manufactured, newly built, newly refreshed, new build, new plastic, factory fresh, non-OEM, OEM compatible”. To simplify, the products described by many of these terms are most commonly known as compatibles, or clones, which can be defined as cartridges that are built by a third party using all new parts and materials.
Why is distinguishing the two so important?
There are many benefits to adopting a standard definition of what a remanufactured cartridge should and shouldn’t be called, but one of the largest is the intellectual property aspect (IP). Clone cartridges are an ongoing issue for the industry because they continue to proliferate, especially in developing regions and places where economic conditions are poor and regulations are enforced inconsistently. They can significantly undercut OEM and even remanufactured cartridge prices because they are much less expensive to make. Though it should be noted that even a remanufactured cartridge can only be rebuilt a limited number of times before it becomes unusable, they are much more sustainable than clones, which are newly-built, frequently from less-reliable materials, and are often not recycled responsibly. IP comes into play because many clone cartridges infringe on OEM patents, as they are often built very similarly to the OEM and can look almost identical.
In short, clones are risky. Many companies marketing clones online and in product catalogs have been known to misclassify them as remanufactured, and as a result, have landed themselves with a lawsuit. Similarly, companies that are reselling/wholesaling/distributing infringing clone cartridges could get pulled into the litigation as well if the OEM files an infringement lawsuit against the company making the cartridges. A recent example of this is Samsung, who went after resellers in Germany and the Netherlands for distributing compatible cartridges that infringed on its patents. OEMs are also not showing any signs that they plan to curb their pursuit of IP rights – Canon just this month announced its initiation of new patent infringement lawsuits against 18 aftermarket vendors in the U.S. Bottom line, if you don’t know exactly what you are selling, there’s a risk that it could be infringing. Adopting standard terminology (assuming it is used correctly) would certainly help reduce that risk for resellers and consumers.
Consumers and remanufacturers are similarly affected. Anyone that unknowingly purchases a low-quality clone cartridge, will have a poor experience and may choose to no longer purchase any type of non-OEM alternative. Good news for the OEM, bad news for the legitimate remanufacturing industry. Remanufacturers are similarly at risk of infringing if they source new-build parts and components. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the sale of clone cartridges impacts the sale of legitimate remanufactured cartridges, so it is also in remanufactures’ best interest on several levels to ensure products are labeled correctly with standard terminology.
Now that we know what it’s all about, is the approval of this definition going to have major effect on the industry?
While it’s certainly a step in the right direction and has the potential to effect change, getting an entire industry, especially one as highly fragmented as that for cartridges, to adopt and consistently use the terminology will remain an obstacle, especially on a global scale. Specific challenges include education, adoption, and ongoing efforts to ensure consistent use.
Approving the definition was the first step, but if no one is aware that it was ever created, the effort will largely be lost. There is going to have to be a major effort around educating the industry, including manufacturers, resellers/wholesalers/distributors, and consumers alike. After education, getting the industry to adopt and consistently use the definition will be another barrier to the standard’s effectiveness. Potential solutions could come in the form of signing an agreement, using special logos or emblems, or creating a separate coalition dedicated to enforcing its use. However, the third, and maybe more important element, will have to be based on continuing education and enforcement.
This is also not the first endeavor of its kind. Just last year, the International ITC published a resolution that that its members will refrain from buying or selling products they know or have reason to believe are clones, new compatible cartridges, new compatible cores, new remanufactured cartridges, or any cartridges that may infringe valid intellectual property rights. Similarly, the European Toner & Inkjet Remanufacturers Association (ETIRA) shortly after issued its “Guide to Clones”, while Italian website AcquistiVerdi.com published a post that helps distinguish between clones and remans, as well as tips on how to recognize a clone with regard to price, time-to-market, and wear-and-tear.
However, even with continuing education and adoption efforts, it’s unlikely that the approval of this definition is going to cause any significant change in the short term. Even in the long term, it is expected that there will be companies that are unaware of the standard, and even some who simply choose not to participate. However, regardless of the far-reaching effects of the standard, the BSA’s efforts should certainly be commended, as it represents progress toward a unified goal.
Explaining the Why just got: Easier. Better. Faster. Stronger.
For 2014, gap intelligence decided to make a bold New Years resolution: make our industry-leading competitive intelligence more powerful and easier to use.
You could say we’ve been channeling our inner Daft Punk (or Kanye West, whichever you prefer), but with a twist:
When gap delivered its first Price/Promotion Report more than 10 years ago, we set out to put all four P’s in one place. We put all the marketing intelligence essentials–Pricing, Promotional, Placement, and Product details–in a one-stop-shop experience and updated them on a weekly basis, creating the industry’s most comprehensive source of timely and accurate market knowledge. So why change now?
Better question is, why wouldn’t we continuously innovate and improve the customer experience? Especially when the opportunity exists to vastly simplify the process of finding answers to important questions such as:
Why did my market share increase this week?
Why were unit volumes up despite little or no advertising activity?
Why didn’t market share increase after a major advertising splash at Retailer “X”?
Why are my competitors’ share of shelf increasing / decreasing at key accounts?
Why is demand growing for key product features and how is this impacting my competitive value proposition?
Why is the sky blue? (OK, maybe not this one. Just checking you’re still with me.)
The answer for gap intelligence, of course, is why not? Because our analyst-driven market intelligence services are centered around one core objective:
To help Explain the Why by making gap’s timely and accurate intelligence
more actionable and easier to use.
So effective immediately, gap intelligence is rolling out beta versions of a new Price & Promotion Database (PPDB) based on Excel 2010 with a PowerPivot plugin (SQL Server 2012 SP1). The PowerPivot plugin is a free download from Microsoft’s website and can be installed and set up in just minutes.
Once up and running, the new beta reports give existing Excel 2010 users the option of benefiting from a much more dynamic, flexible, and customizable market intelligence tool than we have ever delivered. It will also open up possibilities we only dreamed of before, such as linking gap’s causal market intelligence with POS data streams to help unveil the daily mysteries around why my brand or my competitors brands are winning or losing.
And for those of you wondering: what about Excel 2013? And how about using gap data in other data visualization applications? There’s still more to come. In fact, we’re just getting started!
Meantime, Explaining the Why just got a whole lot: Easier. Better. Faster. Stronger.
When Is a TV Not a TV Any More?
I recently got back from the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual trade show in Las Vegas, called CES. At the show, CE manufacturers from all over the globe come together to display their new and upcoming products. This year, as in most years, there were a ton of new TVs on the floor, all sporting the latest and greatest new technologies. The changes in TVs over the years have been subtle: they are still screens that we sit in front of for entertainment, but over the past few years those incremental changes have morphed the TV into something quite different than it was even ten years ago. People are inevitably starting to ask if there is a difference between TVs and computers.
A computer? Really? Sure! Hear me out.
The most obvious parallel between TVs and computers is the evolution of the Smart TV. Over the past several years, streaming content has become such a normal part of our viewing habits that TV manufacturers began building WiFi capabilities into their new TVs. Many Smart TVs can now be used to stream programming from sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, or download and view content from the cloud. Viewers can also use TVs to buy apps, surf the web, and even chat over Skype using a built-in camera. Pretty much any entertainment-related activity you can do on your computer can also be done on your TV.
Another comparison can be made over the use of mobile connections. Many TVs are now equipped with the ability to send or receive content straight from a smartphone or tablet with the swipe of a finger. Are you watching a show on your TV and need to go to another room? Just swipe the content to your tablet and take it with you! Maybe you found a funny YouTube video on your phone and want to share it with the room. Just flick it up to your TV and watch it instantly! At the very least, many smartphones and tablets are now able to act as remote controls for your TV, which can be helpful for browsing when the interface includes a keyboard.
I’m old enough to remember when computer screens were pretty small, and not as colorful as they are today. Now, they can be the size of a small TV and look just as good! But if you think computer screens have gotten bigger, TVs have gotten WAY bigger. By the end of 2013, retailers were showcasing more TVs sized 60-inches and above than they have in the past. The trend continued at CES, where manufacturers displayed TVs with sizes ranging from 55-inches all the way to 120-inches.
Remember all that talk about “retina displays” on smartphones and tablets? The same revolution is happening in the TV world as well, with the arrival of Ultra HD. The new resolution offers four times the number of pixels as the current full HD set, for unparalleled detail. (If you really want to learn more about Ultra HD, check out my previous blog post!) In the beginning of 2013, only a few manufacturers had an Ultra HD model on the market, and more trickled out throughout the year. But we’re going to see a lot more of the sets in 2014, as more TV brands offer Ultra HDTVs, at a variety of price points.
Desktop computers have undergone some form factor changes over the past couple of years for the first time in, well, as long as I can remember. Desktops are no longer confined to the boxy tower and tiny monitor. Now, many models are sold as all-in-ones that do away with the tower. Screens are also able to bend and swivel and be positioned in a variety of ways, for unlimited uses. The introduction of touch-screen capabilities helped make a lot of these changes possible.
TVs have also undergone a transition of sorts. You used to need a sturdy table or cabinet to hold the heavy TVs of the past, but for many years now, TVs have come in the form of flat panel displays that can be hung on the wall. At CES, many TV manufacturers took the form factor changes even farther and offered curved screens and even TV screens that bend at the touch of a button. The curve is supposed to give the viewer a more immersive experience, kind of like an IMAX movie, but on a much smaller scale. Will the new curved screens take off with consumers? It’s too early to tell. Samsung and LG both released curved models in 2013, but they are not yet widely spread.
So…are TVs morphing into computers? Maybe it’s the computers that are becoming more like TVs? Either way, the trend is definitely heading towards more control over content by viewers and more connectivity within the home overall. Pretty soon, desktop computers will be an old relic taking up space in your apartment while your TV and mobile device take care of all your “computing” needs. I am excited about the direction TVs are taking, and can’t wait until they come equipped with even more future technologies, like 3D printers that can serve up the dinner I just saw on that cooking show, or holographic image generators so a Skype session with family can be even more interactive. I’m getting ahead of myself, but anything is possible and I can’t wait to see what the TV manufacturers come up with next!
The Fridge I Want vs The Fridge I’ll Probably Get
Since I moved into my place back in February 2013, the refrigerator light has been out. Not because the light bulb was burnt out, but because the tiny little switch was broken from the previous tenant (See picture above). For months, I just accepted that I would never really be able to see my food when I opened the fridge. I recently decided it was time I called my apartment manager to get it fixed. After some serious finagling and negotiating, I convinced both the manager and landlord that I CLEARLY needed a whole new fridge. Which got me thinkin’… If I could pick my own fridge, what would it be? Having been part of the appliance team for a year now, I knew I had some good options.
Among the many different features, there are a few that stand out. Appliance Analyst
Christine Boersing [Also known as CBo (pronounced See-Bo)] would likely choose GE’s Café CFE29TSDSS, a hot-water dispensing, French Door refrigerator. CBo does drink a good amount of tea, and her pure excitement when this fridge first debuted leads me to believe this would be her favorite.
Kim Plavan, fellow DataOpper, would probably choose LG’s LFX31945ST. A French Door refrigerator featuring Door-in-Door access would suit her well, as she has two young boys constantly opening the fridge. Having been 10-years-old at one point in my life as well, I know that leaving the refrigerator door open was the least of my concerns back then.
Deskmate, Laurel Popplewell, would probably choose Samsung’s RF31FMESBSR. Another French Door refrigerator, but with a built-in Soda Stream. Laurel’s not big on soda (except on “Soda Fridays”), but loves lightly-flavored “fizzy water” with a passion.
Scott Peterson, Camera Analyst and fan of hit TV movie “Sharknado,” would choose none of the above. He would probably wait until a refrigerator came with a camera app, then wait even longer until Frys offered it as a bundle with a 16GB memory card and bag.
As for myself, I would choose none of these as well. I am a simple, bearded-man who really only cares about one thing: Bacon. With that said, the only real important feature of a refrigerator is “How much bacon can it hold?” With a storage capacity of 32.5 cubic feet, LG’s LFX33975ST refrigerator has the ability to hold a lot of bacon. According to my calculations, the number of strategically-placed packs of Oscar Meyer Thick Cut Butcher Bacon (Think of it like Jenga, a particularly delicious game of Jenga) amounts to 1,702. That’s bacon for days! (Disclaimer: The picture below is not the actual LFX33975ST).
With all of this said, my landlord will ultimately end up get me the Hanover HANRT12AW. Its main feature: Keeping things cold. My dreams of a dedicated bacon-fridge will just have to wait.
*If you have questions about how I arrived at 1,702 packs of bacon, feel free to email me for bacon-dimensions and ensuing math. Any inquiries related to thin-cut bacon will not be addressed.
**Other acceptable spellings of Christine Boersing’s nickname includes: C-Bo. Any other forms including, but not limited to, SeeBo, SeeBow, and CeeBo are unacceptable.
***Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to this current post about food, I am still NOT a competitive eater (see also: An Elementary School Recess Sport turned Competitive May 3, 2013 and For the last time, I’m not into competitive eating… August 8, 2012).
A Christmas gappy Tumblr Blog 2
Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas Eve to all! December is always an exciting time of the year for gappers; the gap fantasy football league playoffs, the infamous holiday party, finishing up the end of the quarter, and let’s not forget the wonderful last few work days before Christmas followed by a week of vacation! In my second installment of a gappy tumblr blog, I will focus on all the fun gappers have in this crazy month!
At the start of the month, when everyone is getting the Christmas spirit and I’m not ready yet, I’m like:
But then it suddenly hits me that I’m super excited and I’m like:
During the company meeting when we find out we’re getting our holiday bonuses early this year, everybody is like:
When the end of the quarter sneaks up on me:
When a gapper’s precious bag of flaming hot Cheetos becomes mysteriously missing, they’re like:
Realizing I have to see my coworkers the day after my team loses an embarrassing football game, I’m all:
After waiting so long for my ECOM staging file to finish calc-ing, only to accept the fact that
I have to close it and try again, I’m like:
When I don’t have my backstage pass to get into the office, and I really hope someone will help me so I don’t have to walk to the front, I’m like:
How I respond when I realize its Hot dog Friday:
And when someone in the office doesn’t want to eat unhealthy with us, we’re like:
Realizing I still have another tab to QC is like:
When I need my manager to tell me I did a good job of pre-QCing the file before she gets it, I’m like:
Trying to stealthily take the last holiday treat from the snack attack table, I’m like:
And when I successfully get it I’m like:
All gappers getting ready to dress up super fancy for the holiday party were like:
When I couldn’t wait to get my Secret Santa gift, I was like:
When asked how it felt to get three awards at the holiday party, I was like:
But how I felt with my coworkers after I made a bold football statement in my award speech was like:
How it feels to win the gap fantasy football league:
How most gappers feel in the last few work days before Christmas…
But when we’ve successfully finished another quarter, it’s like:
Gappy Holidays, everyone!
Scott’s One Cool Thing: Holiday Edition
Who says digital cameras aren’t cool anymore? With the majority of casual point-and-shooters reaching for smartphones as their go-to capture devices these days, it seems that less interest is being paid to the dedicated camera segment compared to hotter CE gadget categories that are emerging onto the scene, which I admit, is understandable.
However, as the resident Digital Camera Analyst here at gap intelligence, the holidays are always the time of year that I can count on everyone that I know, from coworkers to family to long-lost friends, bombarding me for information on what cameras are good, what a decent price is, where they should buy one, or other similar advice that they know I’m good for.
Following the swirling momentum of numerous “Holiday Camera Roundups” and the increasing demand that we have for smartphone connectivity, outlined below are a few of the digital cameras available for purchase today that I would happily spend my own hard-earned dollar on in this edition of…
Scott’s One Cool Thing.
That’s right, every model below is easily accessible in brick-and-mortar retail for us last-minute gift-givers who don’t have Amazon Prime, and every camera listed plays nice with smart devices to appease that tech-savvy social networker on our list!
Noting that capable smartphones are negating our need for basic compact cameras, models armed with strong zooms can still prove valuable companions in our pockets. Combine their ability to magnify distant subjects with WiFi connectivity, and the act of using a dedicated camera becomes all the more attractive. Two models that immediately jump out within the superzoom segment are Canon’s PowerShot SX280 HS and Samsung’s WB 250F, both of which can be grabbed for under $250.
Canon’s PowerShot SX280 HS is its first SX-series model to boast built-in WiFi, and also serves as the debut appearance of Canon’s Digic 6 image processor, which helps for low-light and speed (14fps burst!). The model packs a 20x optical zoom lens (25-500mm), built-in GPS, and offers manual overrides for the more creative shooter.
The PowerShot SX280 HS’ WiFi links with Canon’s CameraWindow app (iOS, Android), which allows users to wirelessly transfer content to smart devices, other PowerShot models, and the company’s range of wireless printers, as well as social networking sites (through Canon’s iMAGE GATEWAY service).
Samsung’s WB 250F is a direct competitor to the Canon, and although it sports a slightly-weaker zoom strength of 18x (24-432mm), it more than makes up for this with its rich connectivity! The WiFi-equipped WB 250F is based off of a similar concept as last year’s WB 150F, but has several noteworthy upgrades including its use of a BSI CMOS sensor for enhanced low-light capture capabilities, and its 3-inch touchscreen LCD that allows smartphone-style navigation.
While not one of the Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy Cameras, the WB 250F has an app-style interface that bears a strong similarity to a smartphone. The UI gives shooters the ability to post content directly to social networks, backup files onto home computers or cloud-based sites, and even beam footage to your new smart TV! Especially beneficial to smartphone addicts is the camera’s “Auto Share” feature, which literally saves each picture taken into your phone’s album to immediately/easily share.
Bridge cameras set themselves apart from basic point-and-shoots by their massive zoom lenses and external appearances reminiscent of DSLRs (they “bridge” the gap between the basic and advanced). These cameras are designed to appeal toward more advanced shooters, families looking for an all-in-one option, and avid world travelers, as their lens versatility rivals a backpack full of gear. Canon’s PowerShot SX510 HS is one of my favorite bridge camera picks, not as the most capable option on the market, but as one of the best deals under $250.
The PowerShot SX510 HS is Canon’s second generation “budget bridge” camera, headlined by a switch to CMOS sensor technology for better low-light performance, and the addition of built-in WiFi. The move to a CMOS chipset also gives the camera its ability to film 1080p HD video (vs. 720p), and a fast burst rate of 3.8fps. The model is equipped with a 30x optical zoom lens (24-720mm), which is now dwarfed by the bridge segment’s 60x zoom leaders, although it has a very compact body that will not burden travelers.
Much like Canon’s other WiFi cameras, the PowerShot SX510 HS leverages the company’s CameraWindow app (iOS & Android) for transferring still and video content to smart devices. Other WiFi-ready PowerShot models can also receive footage from the camera, as can Canon’s wireless printers to instantly appease our relatives who value printed memories, and that we haven’t befriended on social networks.
ILCs, or Interchangeable Lens Cameras, consist of traditional DSLRs as well as their compact-bodied mirrorless counterparts, both of which share the benefit of using swappable optics. While these cameras are more of an investment in both dollar and space requirements, their large image sensors, specialty lenses, and fast performance provide a distinct edge over smartphones and compact cameras. Toss in WiFi and app compatibility, and ILCs play a valuable role as performance-rich partners to our smart devices, especially for the status-seeking hipster or true photo buffs in our lives. One of my favorite options that will not break the bank this season is Samsung’s mirrorless NX 2000, which is commonly-found under $600.
The NX 2000 sports a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, which is the same size as most DSLRs, and boasts a fast 8fps burst shooting speed. The core of the NX 2000 is its user experience, which consists on an “Android-style” interface on a 3.7-inch touchscreen LCD display that ranks as the largest panel fitted onto a mirrorless camera to date.
The NX 2000 introduced Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to Samsung’s lineup, which facilitates connection to compatible smart devices by simply touching them together. The added convenience feature supplements Samsung’s already rich WiFi connectivity suite, and leverages the company’s SMART CAMERA App (Android, iOS) to control features such as Mobile Link, AutoShare, and Remote Viewfinder. The latter function is extremely fun in group settings and will solidify your “rock star status” to tech-savvy onlookers this season.
HP’s Sharp Deal, and Why it’s Good News for Canon
If you Google “win-win business relationships,” you don’t have to search long before HP and Canon’s OEM alliance comes up. It’s in almost every win-win-related article, a number of business books, and is taught in business classes across the country.
Like any 30 year marriage, Canon and HP have had their share of their ups and downs, but the companies continue to generate much of their revenues and an even greater portion of their profits from the relationship, creating a financial bond strong enough to withstand their conflicting role as competitors, dramatic currency and leadership shifts, and just about anything else the industry could throw at them.
Because of that, it was not surprising when the focus of many editorials and reports on HP and Sharp’s new A3 MFP supply alliance gave similar levels of coverage to the deal itself with how threatened Canon must feel as a result of it.
To recap, the new HP-Sharp alliance effectively provides HP with a range of Sharp-based workgroup to light production A3 MFPs that carry the HP brand (but not LaserJet), will eventually be serviced by HP, and will exclusively sell into larger HP MPS accounts. The new line significantly raises HP’s own-branded office MFP product ceiling, improves its lineup balance, and gives the vendor a new level of service control over the A3 MFPs in its enterprise fleets. Meanwhile, the deal provides Sharp with a much needed new revenue source in the midst of its notable financial struggles, while relatively safely avoiding conflict within its own channels.
Why Everyone Says this is Bad News for Canon
Some readers may notice that there weren’t any Canon mentions in the above HP-Sharp alliance recap. However, among those knowledgeable of Canon and HP’s relationship, it is easy to see that this deal had everything do with their LaserJet partnership, and why it’s likely a concern within some parts of Canon.
Canon and HP’s relationship has seen increasing challenges in recent years, including print-undermining moves during the Fiorina/Hurd/Apotheker eras, painful forecast miss-cues from HP early in the recession, and HP’s continued efforts to create new alternatives to its Canon-based LaserJets (the latest of which being the Sharp deal).
Before now, these alternatives have primarily come in the form of HP’s prioritized office inkjets, which have expanded across all channels and customer segments, posing a notable threat to HP’s SOHO and workteam LaserJets, and will increasingly take aim on Enterprise segments going forward. In fact, it is worth noting that during HP’s analyst briefing held prior to the Sharp alliance announcement, HP highlighted its PageWide Pro X inkjet series’ role in its balanced MPS fleet strategy almost as often as the vendor mentioned the new Sharp-based A3s it was announcing. Really, the folks at Canon should be far more concerned about HP’s intentions around its homegrown inkjet portfolio than its gap-filling Sharp products (and many are).
Like the new Pro X inkjets at the low-end, HP’s latest A3 additions will now create an alternative to Canon-based LaserJets at the high-end of HP’s office lineup, likely cannibalizing HP’s Canon-based LaserJet A3 MFP portfolio that completed an impressive refresh just a few months ago.
The addition of these new Sharp-based A3s also effectively eliminates an imageRUNNER sales, supply, and service channel for Canon in the US and Europe (even if it was underutilized), and possibly threatens Canon’s imageRUNNER install base in its existing HP-owned enterprise accounts.
So I guess the “bad news for Canon” crowd may have a point. But they may be missing the big picture…
Why it’s Good News for Canon
Despite all of the above challenges to HP’s Canon-based LaserJet lineup and possible concerns over what this alliance may suggest about HP’s future product sourcing strategy, gap intelligence believes that Canon stands to benefit from this new alliance in a number of ways.
1) What’s Good for HP, is Good for Canon
For Canon’s LaserJet OEM business, the most immediate benefits will come from the enterprise MPS growth that HP is able to achieve due to its wider and more competitive lineup. Given the lineup expansion seen from many OEMs in recent years that has now made balanced A3/A4 fleets an enterprise MPS requirement and the similar need to include CRD support in many MPS deals, Canon would likely agree that HP’s chances of achieving MPS growth is now much stronger with these new A3 products in its portfolio.
Additionally, Canon surely realizes that each new HP MPS win will drive significant hardware and supply sales opportunities for HP’s LaserJet systems, which are still expected to dominate these MPS fleets for the foreseeable future, even if they are now sharing more placements and pages with HP Officejets and Sharp-based MFPs.
2) HP is Prioritizing Print
Canon should also be relieved that this new Sharp alliance is just the latest move from HP that is purely intended to grow its print business. In fact, some may argue that, after years of HP prioritizing other parts of its business (sometimes with IPG-funding), printing is as strategically-prioritized within HP as it has been in years.
3) There is a Lot to Learn from HP’s Strategy
The last bit of good news for Canon is only good news if Canon chooses to learn from its long-time partner and apply HP’s politics-free product strategy to its own operations. For over a decade, HP has unapologetically tasked its inkjet group to move up-market into the office segments dominated by its very own LaserJet products (SPT, Edgeline, Officejet Pro, Officejet Pro X, etc.), and now further expands the high-end of its laser lineup with Sharp-based MFPs, understating that it would much rather grow / maintain sales across its segments and technologies than lose it to a competitor. To misquote There Will Be Blood’s Daniel Plainview, in this strategy “HP’s… Straw… Drinks… HP’s… Milkshake!!!”
Canon has historically taken the opposite approach, doing just about everything in its power to keep each of its respective printing groups within their historically-defined product types and sales channels.
Canon’s market share numbers certainly prove that there is strength in this strategy, and its careful protection of traditional product and channel boundaries probably makes things a bit more pleasant during the company holiday party, but this strategy only makes business sense if the world around these nicely-defined business groups also remains stable. Unfortunately, the world is changing and it would be a lot easier for Canon’s respective product groups to adapt to these changes if they didn’t have to worry about product and channel jurisdictions.
If Canon applied HP’s more Darwinistic approach to its technologies and business units over the last several years, it is very possible that Canon’s portfolio and market positioning would be quite different today. Following this HP-style strategy, it is likely that Canon would have offered enterprise-class imageRUNNER A4s a lot earlier and more consistently (sorry imageCLASS and HP groups), it’s conceivable that Canon would already be on the list of vendors pushing page-wide inkjets into enterprise channels and fleets (sorry imageCLASS, imageRUNNER, and HP groups), it’s conceivable that Canon would have pushed its dealers into MPS a lot earlier and more aggressively (sorry HP group), and you could bet that Canon would be the vendor providing HP with these new high-end A3 MFPs instead of Sharp (sorry imageRUNNER group).
It sounds brutal and there are ways to do this through collaboration, rather than internal competition, but this strategy is a lot safer way to make sure a company’s bases are covered as industries inevitably change. And by now, I don’t think Canon should feel too bad about saying “sorry HP” anyway.
Overall, I feel like this could be one of the few win-win-win deals seen in the business world. HP improves its lineup and MPS capabilities, Sharp gets a valuable new cash source, and Canon’s most important customer likely just got a bit stronger – thus improving its LaserJet OEM channel.
There is less of a guarantee that Canon, or other similarly-segmented vendors in our industry, start being a bit more like HP and loosen up the boundaries around their print divisions, but it should at least be reassuring for them to know that they can change if they want to and there are proven benefits to this approach.