retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the continuing dominance of Amazon in the smart speaker segment, one MNB reader wrote:

Our office microwave finally bit the dust so I jumped on Amazon to order one for next day delivery. I arrived the next day and it has an Alexa control button?

The microwave was inexpensive but to be honest – in our application – what’s the point?  We still have to get up and put the food in…

From MNB reader Justin Anthony:

My family is a new smart speaker user.  We use Alexa powered systems, but how we started might be a little unconventional.

We were blessed enough to be able to build a new home in this past year.  Built by Meritage Homes.  One of the standard features included in their builds were smart devices.  Front door lock, Ring doorbell, light switches, thermostat, even the oven.  Here’s where Amazon steps in.  Shortly after closing we received an Amazon promotional code from Meritage Homes.  This code was good for an Echo Show & Dot at no cost.   It also had us schedule a technician, at no additional cost, to come to our home, set it all up and show us how to use it. Amazon wanted to make sure we used their devices in our new home. It worked. Not just for us, but for our whole neighborhood.

Welcome to the Amazon ecosystem.

Responding to yesterday's story from the New York Times about how Dart Corp. finds itself making and selling products that have been labeled by many as threats to the environment, MNB reader Richard A. Eastes wrote:

Especially since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, ‘cost reduction’ has been the human production mantra.

Deforestation, coal fired manufacturing , mining, dumping of waste carelessly into rivers and landfills have poisoned humans, the environment, and most all life forms. Our burning for generations of relatively inexpensive petroleum products has dramatically affected the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that threatens to alter the viability of the thin envelope of habitable environment into which humans have evolved.

Modern day manufacturing efficiencies have not reduced per-item expenses, but rather have only served to postpone the true cost of production into the future where inflation exacerbates those true expenses to our earthly home even further.

Cheap convenient plastic in all its forms continues to spoil our water, landscape, and our oceans. Unfortunately, market forces, as practiced, are not necessarily the best way to “efficiently” value and allocate resources. Humans are really poor at recognizing ‘the actual cost inputs’ in our earth’s “closed system”.

To a large degree, society has only been paying ‘down payments’ on what sustains us, while postponing payments on the principle expense.  Some balloon payments are now coming due; in the air, in the water, in our climate, in our food,  and in our bodies in the form of cancer and diseases. Refusing to pay as we go for the ‘real’ price of our so-called efficiencies is becoming very expensive and does not portend our species long-term survival unless we start acknowledging, and trimming our longer term expensive taste.

We continue to get a ton of email about the MNB redesign/reboot, and I am happy/relieved that the fix implemented yesterday solved a lot of the problems about which people were complaining.

One MNB reader yesterday wrote:

I am so glad you got hammered with complaints. Yesterday I wrote MNB off and decided I would get my news elsewhere. Today, I noticed the Mea Culpa (I was raised Catholic) and decided to at least check it out. Surprise! Back to a reasonable format. Thanks.

Kyrie eleison.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, as Dean Martin used to say.  We will continue to tweak the site and make improvements as we go along and learn from your experiences.

Yesterday we ran an email from an MNB reader accusing me of having "gone corporate," which prompted MNB reader Bill Senn to write:

Kevin, for goodness sake – YOU?? “GONE CORPORATE”???.  Come one folks – these are the same people who would have stayed on the horse-n-buggy waiting for bigger, faster horses.  These are the same folks who thought putting monkeys, and God forbid, men, into space was a stupid folly – but they can’t live without their phones and TV’s running off satellites…..I could go on and on but ‘Change is Constant’ and when we see someone we enjoy interacting with in the morning bring on new partners, we should applaud and look forward to more great insights!!!  That’s it, change is good!!  Keep it going Kevin!! 

Every criticism I got I read as being from someone who cared about MNB, who felt a relationship with me and the site, and wanted to be sure that what makes MNB special will be sustained and nurtured.

I think that is going to be the case.  I'm just going to keep doing the work.

It is all going to be okay.