Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Could Siri Be The Brains Of The Apple TV?

With the death of Steve Jobs and the release of his biography comes word that Apple has been working on building a new kind of TV set. No official word from inside Apple, but a ton of speculation around what could be the neatest thing to hit TV sets, voice commands. Just as Siri is taking the iPhone to new heights, rumors are that Siri could also be the extra pop in the next evolution of TV manufacturing.

It makes me think of old Start Trek movies. Scotty speaking to the pc, "Computer,get me...". So why can't we simply get the TV to first recognize our voices and then reply as we address it. "TV, turn the channel to Bravo" or "TV, record all episodes of Saturday Night Live." "TV, display DVR recordings or TV, search web for Daily Show clips". No more remote. No more buttons. All voice commands. Siri may just be the future of TV.

Will An Internet Sales Tax Change The Consumers Use of E-Commerce?

A research question popped into my head as I watched Amazon report lower earnings and see its stock price drop 10%. Sales were up but profits dropped due to higher spending on production, technology, and acquisition. So the good news is that consumers enjoy shopping online on Amazon and other websites. And it made me ask, would consumer spending change should an internet sales tax ever be established. Certainly some states already charge a sales tax and California is pushing one, but for the most part, we save money by not paying tax with our purchase. In fact, when I purchase online, I also see if shipping is free as well, another factor in deciding whether it might be cheaper to simply drive and buy at the store.

What economic impact on internet spending would result if an internet sales tax was established? Obviously we would continue to make digital purchases online, music, videos, and of course, books. But would we continue to buy material goods through the web if the cost (with tax and shipping) actually exceeded what it cost from a store? Would Amazon and other web retailers' profits suffer even more?

Today's politicians are discussing new tax models and an internet sales tax could be one of those pieces of their puzzle. And while an internet sales tax might bring in additional revenue, it might also act as another barrier to our economic recovery. An e-commerce sales tax may sound like an easy solution but it might also come with many consequences.