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games people play

Sony Sets PS Vita Release, But Are Gamers Game?

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 20, 2011 11:32 AM

We already knew that the Vita, the next generation of Sony’s PlayStation Portable, was going on sale in Japan on December 17. And this week, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Sony announced that the device will go on sale on February 22, 2012, in the US, Canada, Latin America and Europe.

Leaving aside the fact that the Vita will not be available in time for the 2011 holiday season (though if you buy gifts to celebrate leap year, you’ll be in luck), the real question is whether gamers will be experiencing “handheld fatigue” by next year.Continue reading...

tech talk

Microsoft's Zune Is Dead! Long Live Zune Music Pass!

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 5, 2011 12:09 PM

While Apple heralded the post-Jobs era with the introduction of the iPhone 4S (aka the iPhone 5 in disguise), and created plenty of hubbub surrounding iOS 5 and iCloud, what about the latest updates regarding those MP3 players you still can’t live without?

We’re talking about the Zune, man! You know…that Microsoft product that was launched five years ago? To take on the iPod? Because not everyone is an Apple acolyte?

If your reaction to the idea of “Zune news” is “Wait, that thing is still around?,” don’t worry. After treating the Zune as if it were a MacBook that Steve Ballmer was asked to autograph, Microsoft officially killed the portable music player.

While the third-ranked Best Global Brand is putting the money-hemorrhaging device out of its misery, Microsoft will continue (for now, at least) to use the Zune brand name and assets, including the Zune Music Pass media download and streaming service.Continue reading...

health matters

Primatene Mist Fans Hold Breath

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 26, 2011 11:01 AM

That over-the-counter asthma inhaler in your bag is about to become as scarce as, well, some bags.

To comply with the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty intended to cease production of ozone-depleting substances (and which forced a change in the construction of refrigerators and air conditioners), America's Food and Drug Administration is reminding asthmatics that Primatene Mist inhalers — the only over-the-counter inhaler sold in the US — will no longer be available starting January 1st.

Even if your airways are clear, you’re probably familiar with the Primatene commercials that promised relief for a bronchial asthma attack within 15 seconds of a single pump. The simple brand message – “fastest-type asthma relief without a prescription” – remained virtually unchanged over the years. The problem, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, is what helps make that asthma relief so fast: the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that propel the active ingredient, the hormone epinephrine.Continue reading...

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sports in the spotlight

Big East + Big 12 = Bigger East 12?

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 20, 2011 11:57 AM

In some circles, there’s talk of nothing but a possible brand merger. No, not the can-they-or-can’t-they marriage of AT&T and T-Mobile, but a collegiate consolidation between two NCAA athletic conferences in crisis.

Over the weekend, the Big East Conference was blindsided by the announcement that Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh planned to leave the conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference, known as the ACC. If you can’t tell the Rose Bowl from March Madness, it’s like the Red Sox abandoning the American League and their rivalry with the Yankees. (Or, in a less accurate analogy, Pespi abandoning the cola wars to focus on sports drinks.) 

As the Big East and their fans reel from the news, up to four other NCAA powerhouses plan to bolt their conference, the Big 12. The potential conference shifts – the main reasons for which, unsurprisingly, have to do with football and money – are causing tremors across the college-sports landscape, and are also stirring speculation that what remains of the two conferences will merge into a single entity.Continue reading...

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holidaze

Will Exclusive Offerings Deliver Toys R Us A Happy Holiday?

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 16, 2011 01:27 PM

Does the child in your life absolutely crave an inflatable remote-controlled shark that floats around your living room this holiday season, and will it be a long miserable winter for both of you if you don’t get it?

Toys R Us hopes so. The mega-retailer has unveiled its holiday sales gameplan, which includes (as we noted last week) opening fewer temporary Holiday Express “pop-up” stores this year and a shift from from brick-and-mortar ubiquity to fun-and-games exclusivity and mobile (including Foursquare check-ins).

Though the brand is no longer the primary plaything paradise — thanks to cheaper alternatives at Target, Amazon, Walmart, and even your local supermarket —Toys R Us is hoping its expanded line of TRU-only toys from brands including Hasbro and Imanginarium will give it an edge over its competitors.Continue reading...

brands under fire

On Thin Ice: If NJ Hockey Team Folds, Newark Will Have Devil Of A Time

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 14, 2011 01:17 PM

Unless your last name is Steinbrenner, it’s not easy being the owner of a New York-area professional sports franchise.

Islanders owner Charles Wang has been unable to find the breakaway success he enjoyed at Computer Associates (now CA), the software company he co-founded. The owners of the Mets have been forced to cuts costs while being sued for profits they allegedly earned from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

And now, thanks to a $100 million missed loan payment on September 1st, the New Jersey Devils are going bankrupt, if a report in the New York Post is to believed. Unsurprisingly, the Devils shot back: Don’t believe it.Continue reading...

games people play

Electronic Arts’ Best Game: Avoiding Taxes

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 12, 2011 12:58 PM

When you contemplate the generous — some would say scandalous — tax breaks enjoyed by large companies, the benefiting brands you probably recall are multinational conglomerates like GE or “too big to fail” financial firms like Goldman Sachs.

But in addition to the kinds of brands that keep PR armies constantly marching in defense of their reputations, one sector that’s enjoyed extraordinary joy every April 15, according to the New York Times, is the gaming industry.

The Times focuses on Electronic Arts, which over the last five years paid $98 million in taxes – which sounds like a painful tax bill until you compute that if EA paid the full official US corporate tax rate of 35 percent, it would have shelled out $420 million on its $1.2 billion in profits.

Conspiracy theorists could claim that IRS agents are huge fans of EA’s Madden football game franchise, but the reality is that the company can take advantage of its three-headed brand identity: it’s a software-development brand, an entertainment brand, and an online retailing brand.Continue reading...

sonic truth

Hum That Brand: Nokia Contest Seeks Update of Signature Tune

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 9, 2011 01:59 PM

Yahoo’s not the only company wishing it had a fission-powered DeLorean (a la Nike this week) to facilitate a return to better times.

It wasn’t long ago – all right, maybe an eon in the cellphone era – when more pockets were stuffed with Nokia phones than ears plugged with trendy white headphones. Those iPod buds were annoying if you weren’t an early adopter, but at least they didn’t disturb you in a movie theater, unlike that Nokia earworm (known as the Nokia Tune) that burrowed into my brain to keep company with the latest derivative party anthem by the Black Eyed Peas.

Think you can come up with a new Nokia Tune? Now's your chance!Continue reading...

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