As the capital’s traffic slows below pre-Congestion Charge speeds, difficult decisions loom. (via @felixsalmon ) [more inside]
Ticket Wars: Why the Ticket Industry Is So Hated and How That's All About to Change "A couple of economists at Northwestern University have developed a scheme to change everything. It's surprisingly simple, and, if it spreads throughout the industry, it could control the very thing that makes the industry so frustrating. Ticket prices will finally make sense." [more inside]
Few industries would routinely pay millions per unit of an item, sight unseen, with minimal (and sometimes no) market research. So how can the TV business afford to operate this way? To understand the economics of scripted television, we need to examine the idiosyncratic journey of a show from concept, to pitch, to script, to screen. And we’ll see why, in a business where only a few hits stand out any given year, lavish spending is the cost of staying relevant. -- The Economics of a Hit TV Show
A pizza price war in Manhattan is threatening to destroy two businesses, while providing consumers with the cheapest slice in ages.
The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
Charles Stross exposes some common misconceptions about publishing. How Charles Stross got into the writing game.
2D BOY made around $100,000 in a week. That’s $50,000 each for writing a blog post about a game they finished a year ago. By letting people pay whatever they wanted. 2D Boy stirred up a lot of discussion (previously) about game piracy when they used online scoreboard data to estimate an 82% piracy rate for their fantastic indie game World of Goo (previously). For World of Goo's first birthday, they decided to try the Radiohead model and let people buy the game for any price they choose. Now they've released extensive data about the results. Short version? "A huge success," even though the most commonly chosen price was only a penny. [more inside]
Omaha rockers Cursive are selling their new album for just $1... No wait, it's $2... $3... $4... WTF?? In yet another twist on the whole, name-your-price (Radiohead), fan-financed (Jill Sobule), take-shrooms-and-cruise-hollywood (Josh Freese) tiered pricing experiment being carried out by what's left of the music industry, Cursive are increasing the price of their new record by $1 each day until its "official" release. Given the popularity of sites like Did it Leak (and the corresponding file-sharing forums that I won't link to here) it seems to me like this is a pretty good way to reward well-intentioned but impatient fans who might otherwise resort to less honorable means of getting the latest stuff from their favorite bands. Or maybe it's just another hare-brained scheme that will only hasten the end of record labels as we know them. Either way, they got my $1... And that was after I already got my hands on the mp3s!
15 awful mistakes made by designers in the music and apparel industries - such as not charging enough, ignoring typography, and unprofessional behaviour.
Whatever the market will bear. Did you know that Amazon.com charges you different prices for the same goods depending on who you are (and what your browser cookie shows?) This was news to me, but the WaPo and CNN reported it in 2005. [more inside]
Petroleum Industry Christmas Wishlist Conservative pundits are quick to point out that no "new refineries have been built since 1976", and even quicker to blame "environmentalists". But the facts just don't support that. Refiners have chosen the environment that they do business in, and in some cases have willingly contributed to it. (Plenty of data here.) Here's why:
- The government has allowed the industry to merge, consolidate, and restrict refining capacity, thus impacting pricing, supply, and demand.
- The quest for profits has caused the need to run extremely lean supplies (ie. no stockpiles of crude - it arrives when you need it, not before) and has resulted in susceptability to wild volatility in prices, but has allowed refiners to operate at very high efficiency but with no margin of excess capacity for temporary shortages, disasters, etc.
- Oil refiners trimmed back capacity after the Oil Crash of the early 1980s and have been unwilling to reinvest in new technologies unless environmental restrictions and local fuel cleanliness mandates are reduced.
A sign of Global recession? For the first time I can remember, it's cheaper to buy a console in the UK than it is the States. Over here, we're used to seeing straight dollar to pound conversions ($299 = £299), so this is a first. Do you think it's sign of recession or just Sony developing a conscience?
Merck to lower prices of HIV drugs for Africa It's not perfect and it's not much of a decrease, but it's a start and long overdue.
Amazon.com apologizes for random price test... Yeah, but look how long it took them to do it. "Oh, um, now that we've covered our costs for R&D we can end the test and apologize. That's the ticket!"