business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB had a piece last week about Apple working to get textbooks onto iPads and iPads into the hands of students, which I think is a really good idea because it allows for constantly updating of material (textbooks are notorious for being out of date) and engaging with students in ways they will find accessible.

But one MNB user demurred:

...except for underprivileged students who can't afford iPads and have to suffer the effects of a widening achievement gap as more privileged students taking advantage of the new technology.

It will be our responsibility as a society to make sure that this gap does not exist. One of the ways to do this would be to view such a shift as an investment, not a cost ... an investment in having a better educated citizenry that is better equipped to work and contribute productively to society.

I did a quick check, and it costs more than $5 million to build one drone aircraft for the military. Let’s make the math easy and assume you can buy a tablet computer for $500. This means that for the cost of one drone, you could buy 30,500 tablet computers. Which is a better investment? And could there be a lot of other places where you could economize as a way of helping to educate these underprivileged students?

I’m just asking...

On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Here is a great example of the disconnect between On-line vs Brick and Mortar.

I ordered a GPS unit for my car on I checked to see if the local store near me had inventory. They did, so I ordered and selected in-store pick up as my delivery option. I was traveling the next day and would not be around for the delivery. After placing my order, I called the store to see if I could come immediately to pick up the unit since I had just paid via credit card on line. I was told by store management that while they had inventory on my particular SKU, they could not release it to me since I needed to wait until they receive my particular order from their warehouse. Delivery should take about 3 days. The .com business is operated independently from the brick and mortar.

So, as a customer I had to wait 3 days for an item I had paid for and was already in the store that I had requested a pick up from. My other option was go back and cancel my original order on line and then go and purchase from the store directly. Staples - you had better execute better than this. I am a customer who uses your product and services on a regular basis. However, this is unacceptable.

MNB user Gary Harris had some thoughts about Kodak’s bankruptcy:

Although not a surprise to us in Rochester who have witnessed the shrinking of a giant industrial leader to its present state, a sad day nonetheless. In the 1980’s Kodak employed over 60,000 people in Rochester, today the number is closer to 7,000. Unlike many other communities who lose such a large part of their economic engine, Rochester has been one of the more stable economies over the past several decades and is still in a good position to weather this reorganization.

It’s important to note that the main reason Rochester is in such good shape is the influence of George Eastman and the company he founded to not only change the way the world records its memories, but to give back to the community to strengthen it for the future. We have world class institutions for community giving (Greater Rochester United Way), education (University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology), health care (U of R Medical Center and Strong Hospital), and culture (Eastman School of Music, Eastman Theater, Hochstein Music School) and many more examples which can trace their roots and their growth to the philanthropy and vision of George Eastman and Eastman Kodak Company.

No matter what the future holds for this iconic brand, all of us can learn from their successes and their failures, and for those of us in Rochester particularly, we have a tremendous legacy of community support and involvement which we now are the stewards of. May we be found worthy of the task before us.

Another reader chimed in:

It is obvious that the Digital Revolution has victims as well as success stories. The successes , like Google, Facebook, Apple and are well chronicled. The losers are the US Postal Service, music publishers, book retailers, newspaper publishers, and now Kodak. In all cases the losers have “emphasized the fundamentals“, and desperately tried to make a out dated business model work through cost cutting and short term revenue enhancers. I guess the message is that if you see the digital steam roller heading towards your business, think revolution not evolution. Hard to do, but it is what separates the successful managers from the footnotes.

Regarding Friday’s story about the “Bizzie” awards, given by Michael Sansolo and me to 2011 movies that we thought offered the best business lessons, one MNB user wrote:

I'm not blasting you and I loved The Guard and The Way in particular but it would be nice if some great movies (especially involving leaders) from 2011 had a female lead.  I took my 14 year old daughter to see Iron Lady on Saturday night.  She was the youngest in the theatre and we had great discussions afterwards.  I make it a point to take her and her younger sister to see any movies with female leads.

You are absolutely right about the importance of seeing movies with strong women in leading roles, though I can assure you that we didn’t pick guy-oriented films on purpose.

I will have to respectfully disagree with you on The Iron Lady, though. I’ll write in more detail about it on Friday in “OffBeat,” but I have to say that I hated it. I mean, really, really hated it. But more on that later in the week...

Another MNB user wrote:

Thanks for your post on business lessons from movies – I’ve loaded up my Netflix queue with the movies you mentioned.

That makes us supremely happy. Our work here is done. (At least for the moment.)
KC's View: