Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
A new era of price transparency. Some shop with their wallet, others with their heart. Yet perhaps a new category is forming: those who shop with their phone. The Wall Street Journal reports on the growing number of savvy customers who use smartphone apps to compare prices while they're in a store. One study by IDC Retail Insights found that "roughly 45 percent of customers with smartphones had used them to perform due diligence on a store's prices." Big-box retailers like Best Buy are already starting to feel the heat. The article notes that the electronics giant "may lose market share this year...in part to pressure from price comparison apps." Perhaps the pricing apps are tough on big businesses, but who could argue they're bad for consumers? As Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart noted, it's "a new era of price transparency."
Are Millennials finally growing up online? Despite numerous differences in how the generations use technology, the Millenials seem to be slipping in their dominance of certain online activities, while older generations are catching up, according to this year's Generations 2010 study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Not surprisingly, social networking is popular with Millennials and Gen. X, though creating content on blogs is falling. The most popular activities across generations? E-mail, search, looking for health information, and accessing news. The least popular? Blogging (which, shockingly, fell far below getting "religious info" and "donate to charity") and, in dead last, virtual worlds. This nice chart reposted by Mashable shows off the increasingly slight generational differences.
How a toy craze is born. The Wall Street Journal breaks down what toy-makers have known for decades about creating a frenzy for their product. Ready for the secret? "Your kids won't let you buy just one." This year's hot toys, Squinkies and Zoobles, are collectable and inexpensive, in the model of Hot Wheel cars or Pokemon trading cards. And that's a Holy Grail for the toy industry—the company that makes Zoobles is making a million Zoobles a month and can't keep up with demands for retailers.
Tech boom 2.0. What industry will drive the economy out of the recession? Green energy, health care, and high-tech innovation are among the educated guesses. But Derek Thompson of The Atlantic has a different answer: Web services. Just like the economy rode the tech wave in the 1990s, he says, our current economy will forge ahead with services that now account for a $100 billion export surplus. "One story that could emerge from the rubble of the recession is a generation of new Web entrepreneurs harnessing the Web's low-barrier, wide-access potential to create ever cheaper, easier, more efficient way to participate in the service economy," Thompson says. And examples are already pervasive, from money-management software like Intuit to job hunters like CareerBuilder to communication portals like Twitter and Facebook.
A good fit for investors. Today's TechCrunch reports that Accel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners have invested $18.5 million in Bonobos, an e-commerce company that aims to make better-fitting pants for men. The investment's a serious increase from the $7.7 million in angel funding that founder Andy Dunn raised when he was first starting up. Now, Dunn plans to expand to dress shirts and suits and create a mid-market line of pants, which would sell for about $60, compared to the $100 price tag on most Bonobos pants. For more on how Bonobos became a thriving e-commerce presence, check out our recent Live Chat with Andy Dunn.
Intuit's open call for entrepreneurs. In the latest example of companies recognizing the benefits of crowdsourcing, software maker Intuit has issued an open call for budding entrepreneurs who have ideas that can help the company develop new products or make improvements to their existing line of financial management tools. Through a new site called Intuit Collaboratory, the company will post specific challenges for entrepreneurs to tackle, offering cash prizes and the opportunity for a more formal partnership to the most successful ideas. As the company VP of Open Innovation said in a press release, "The talent at Intuit is impressive, but we know that we don't have all the answers...Fresh ideas from the outside are a key element to our innovation program."
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