Explaining Southern California's economy

The Gadget Age comes to an end

Report Reveals Motor Vehicle Gadgets Cause Accidents

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

My old blogging colleague from my days at CBSnews.com, Erik Sherman, has some bad news for the gadget business:

For many years, experts kept talking about convergence and how amazing it would be for consumers. Well, it has finally arrived and, yup, it's pretty cool for regular people. But converged devices means that consumer won't need nearly as many gadgets, and fewer will be sold.

Erik brings this up as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens in Las Vegas. He also references this dispiriting post from Kara Swisher at AllThingsD, which lays out some grim holiday sales numbers:

Blu-ray players: Down 17 percent.

Camcorders: Down 42.5 percent.

Digital picture frames: Down 37.5 percent.

GPS: Down 32.6 percent.

HDD: Down 25.1 percent.

Mice and keyboards: Down 7.1 percent.

MP3 players: Down 20.5 percent.

Multifunction printers: Down 9.9 percent.

Point-and-shoot cameras: Down 20.8 percent.

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The New Yorker says that AEG's Philip Anschutz owns LA

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AEG

Thanks to LAObserved for pointing to this summary of Connie Bruck's big profile of Philip Anschutz and AEG, in the current issue of The New Yorker. The title says it all: "The Man Who Owns L.A." And for the man who owns LA, it's all about getting an NFL team to betray its current fans and commit to the Southland:

Anschutz, who lives in Denver, is intensely private and does little to publicize his ownership of A.E.G. or any of his other business activities. [AEG President Tim] Leiweke wants to create what he calls “the final piece of the puzzle for L.A. Live”: an N.F.L. stadium, to be built adjacent to Staples Center. With a deployable roof, the stadium is intended to house—in addition to football games and Super Bowls—concerts, international soccer games, wrestling and boxing matches, N.C.A.A. Final Fours, and major religious gatherings. Los Angeles has not had an N.F.L. team since 1995, when the Rams and the Raiders, tired of playing in antiquated stadiums, left the city. Leiweke began his campaign last February, with a lavish public event to announce a deal he had made with the Farmers Insurance Company: in exchange for a reported seven hundred million dollars over thirty years, the planned stadium would be named Farmers Field. It was the largest naming-rights deal in sports. The next step will be the most challenging. Anschutz has pledged to spend more than a billion dollars to build the stadium, but he and Leiweke must reach a deal both with the N.F.L. and with one or two teams to move to L.A.

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Unemployment crisis: More jobs means more networking

LinkedIn Corp.'s IPO Awaited On Wall Street

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I went on "The Patt Morrison Show" today, joining Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute to discuss the good December 2011 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We spent some time talking about how to go about looking for a job, in industry where there's hiring happening — such as sales and technology. 

Networking is essential. But you have a lot of networking options these days. You probably don't want to neglect any of them. Good old-fashioned "pressing the flesh," making sure you talk to friends and professional contacts, still makes sense. But taking advantage of social networking can also connect job-seekers with employers.

LinkedIn — the business-oriented social network that staged an IPO in 2011 — has become an extremely useful in this respect. It's optimized to present candidates to HR folks who like to see references, resumes, and take a gander at the kinds of connections that prospective employees have developed.

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Barnes & Noble Nook: That other tablet — and a $1 billion business

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orb9220/Flickr Creative Commons

As I and others have argued, there is no tablet market — there's an Apple iPad market. That said, the Amazon Kindle Fire has come on strong, suggesting that there may be room for an iPad competitor at lower price points (the Kindle Fire sells for $199). We know that consumers will go ga-ga over a cheap tablet that as designed to compete with the iPad. This is why the HP Touchpad found life at $99 and why the BlackBerry PlayBook may gain users if it goes on sale for around the same price. But these were tablets that were envisioned as $500 iPad killers. Who wouldn't want one at a monster discount?

Then there's Barnes & Noble's Nook. There are several models, but the Kindle Fire/iPad competitor (in as much as the iPad can really have a competitor) is the Nook Tablet, priced at $250. Here's where things get interesting. B&N is talking about spinning the Nook off as it's own company. And as DealBook reports, Nook Inc. could be worth almost $1 billion:

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Wine Report: Red wine may prevent cancer in women

KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill reported today in a new study that suggests moderate red wine consumption may reduce the risk of breat cancer for women. This finding contests previous research that indicated alcohol raised women's cancer risk.

I've actually been watching the back-and-forth over the health benefits of moderate wine consumption for more than decade now. I'm very glad to see that real science is being focused on the issue. But I also strongly (and unscientifically) believe that one of the best things about drinking wine is that it creates a context for reduced stress.

Yes, there may be compounds in wine that lead to better health. But wine also compels people to stop, relax, sip, mellow out, spend time with friends. This gets even better when wine is consumed with food at meals. The idea is that you unplug for a while and concentrate on the human-ness of being human.

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