Way back in the late 1970s, long before the Internet, iPods, and home theater changed the way we listened to music, I worked at Sound by Singer, a high-end audio store in NYC. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the golden age of high-end. It had a good, long run that made it to the early 1990s, but the high-end audio market didn't shrivel up and die. Here in NYC there are more high-end stores than there were in the golden age. Rents are sky-high, so you might wonder how the stores prosper, and … Read more
Looking at Lego's most impressive creations -- its giant "Star Wars" sets, its Master Builder Academy initiative, its programmable Mindstorms system -- it's easy to forget that it was 80 years ago that the global behemoth had much more humble beginnings when Ole Kirk Christiansen started a little wooden toy company in Billund, Denmark.
Today, Lego is celebrating its 80th birthday, and touting its growth from a tiny outfit in a single building in Billund to the world's third-largest "producer of play materials," employing 10,000 people, many in its variety of production facilities in Europe and beyond.
As the company is fond of pointing out, "Lego" comes from the combination of two Danish words, "leg" and "godt," meaning "play well." And in the early years, when it was focusing its energies on wooden toys, it was by no means a world-changer. … Read more
PayPal announced today it is partnering with 15 more U.S. retailers aiming to get shoppers to use PayPal's offline payment system.
"Consumers are relying on technology now more than ever to simplify their lives when it comes to shopping and paying, and retailers must adapt to this shift or risk becoming irrelevant," PayPal President David Marcus wrote in a blog post. "Innovative retailers everywhere are looking for ways to improve the shopping experience, extend loyalty programs and better engage with their customers."
The new retailers include, Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aeropostale, American … Read more
Kick the iTunes habit and stop streaming, it's time to get physical with music you can touch!
Record Store Day is a celebration of the joys of buying music in the real world, and brick and mortar stores all over the country are participating in the event on Saturday, April 21.
The first Record Store Day was in 2007, and every year more and more stores get involved. The Record Store Day Web site has this quote from author Nick Hornby:"Yes, yes, I know. It's easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what's playing … Read more
I sold high-end audio in New York City for 16 years before I started writing. Talking one-on-one with my customers taught me a lot about how a broad range of people relate to hi-fi. Those experiences influenced my writing, because I know firsthand that there's not a lot of agreement about what constitutes "good sound." You have to listen for yourself to really know if you love the sound. You might do that at a friend's house, but the best place to compare and learn what you like is in a hi-fi store
I've blogged … Read more
There's been some chatter lately about Amazon opening its own stores out in the non-cyber world. Yes, we're talking physical, brick-and-mortar stores, the kind people can actually walk into.
This is all speculation, of course, but Jason Calacanis got the ball rolling with a post late last year entitled "Rumor: Amazon Retail Stores Coming & Predatory Pricing Channel Destruction."
That was followed last week by a story in The New York Times Bits blog speculating (and citing that Calacanis story) that Amazon might just very well be exploring opening physical stores.
"For years, there has been speculation that Amazon will open its own outlets, presumably to sell Amazon-label products," David Streitfeld wrote. "The idea seems far-fetched, but before 2001 so was the idea of Apple operating its own stores." … Read more
We love our concept phones here at Crave, and you can now add the stunning Brick concept to that list.
Created by designers Shaocheng Huang and Yuyin Huang, the Brick's main attraction is a large transparent display that acts as the gateway to the phone's many functions. This includes some things we can already do on today's smartphones, such as taking pictures and connecting wirelessly to TVs, as well as some new ideas.
In the video below, you can see how Huang and Huang imagine using the Brick as a magnifying glass, and my favorite, as a translation tool.
Much like Samsung's see-through tablet concept, the Brick looks like it has a ways to go before it becomes a reality. However, if it ever does, might we offer one tiny suggestion to the designers? Change the name. … Read more
Logitech cast aside all of our expectations for traditional mice with its new Cube design.
Gone are contoured molding and mechanical buttons, replaced in the Cube with a rectangular design and touch-sensitivity. The touch panel acts as the main mousing interface, enabled by what Logitech calls its Flow Scroll software.
Lift the mouse off your work surface and the Cube becomes a presentation device. Logitech doesn't mention a laser pointer in the Cube (perhaps in the Cube 2?), but it will at least let you click to advance through a slide deck.
If it doesn't have a laser … Read more
American speaker manufacturer Magnepan has just launched a program to reach potential customers who would like to test out their speakers, but don't live near enough to a store to hear them in person.
The program, "Maggie Dealer-Direct," relies on dealer expertise to advise customers, but Magnepan ships directly to the customer for a 30-day home trial (in the U.S. only). You might say Magnepan will be acting as the dealer's shipping department.
Some might wonder why Magnepan doesn't just eliminate the dealers and sell speakers factory direct, but they value the depth of … Read more
RavenBrick is developing a window that knows when it's hot enough for shade.
The Denver-based company has been working on a window coating that creates a heat-blocking tint triggered by the outdoor temperature. The company is in the process of raising $3 million in venture capital with plans to build a factory that will start operating in about a year, according to co-founder and President Wil McCarthy.
One of the trends in building design is to use large windows to bring in daylight, which creates a pleasing workspace and lowers the need for artificial lighting. One of the challenges … Read more