Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DOJ Finally Says No

Two letters that you would never expect to hear from the Justice Department - N O. They didn't say no to Sirius and XM Satellite, nor did they say no to Comcast and NBC on their merger, not even to Continental and United. But it seems that they have finally decided to say no now. "The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA on antitrust grounds, saying a deal between the nation’s second- and fourth-largest wireless phone carriers would substantially lessen competition, result in higher prices and give consumers fewer innovative products."

Now just because a lawsuit exists doesn't mean that a merger is dead. It may simply require AT&T to agree to a number of conditions to allow this merger to move forward. It is the nature of leading companies in various industries to continue to acquire smaller fish in order to keep growing. So has been the case in cable, satellite radio, accounting, banking, airlines, and yes in telecommunications. It is the desire to have the dominant market share through mergers and acquisition to help to vanquish competition.

You would think that this recent update would paint the DOJ as the friend of consumerism. Bust as they have done nothing to limit monopolies and oligopolies recently, why are they starting now with AT&T?

Barnes and Noble Getting Traction From Its Digital Makeover

I admit to being a reader. I love books and I love bookstores. But I am also a fan of digital and the desire to always be connected. As consumers transition from print to digital, change is inevitable. Still, it doesn't mean that print will entirely go away or that bookstores can't continue to thrive. You can't stop change and B&N seem to understand that it is better to row with the stream then bump up against it.

So their digital makeover continues to help B&N to face that change and work with it to achieve better results. "Barnes & Noble Inc. said Tuesday its fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed as sales of its Nook e-book reader and e-books helped offset lower physical book sales." Is there work to do? Of course. These are still digital pennies (or perhaps nickels), but they are the future. And while store sales are down, competition is lessened with the loss of Borders. Add more merchandise into the stores and more reasons to bring in your Nook for a free coffee, and you can encourage more purchases.

It may not be an easy transition, but B&N is working with change, not trying to fight it. And that is a good thing.