Thursday, July 20, 2017

Amazon is big and great, but don't forget "too big to fail" is now definitely the world's biggest, best and largest retailer in the United States.  They have left multiples of classic Brick-And-Mortar stores on the streets with "For Rent" signs and will soon conquer the international front in due time.

Everyone uses Amazon for the obvious reason of resolving their shopping needs to make it easier, and rely less on traveling to physical stores when they can just order online.  Here are just some of the reasons why any sane person would chose Amazon over any other retailer: Amazon Prime, great customer support with flexible refunds, free two-day shipping, media streaming, lower prices, excellent reputation.  Recently, Amazon made a deal with Whole Foods to own their stores for the obvious reason of shipping out groceries to their customers, so that we do not need to travel to buy grocery foods anymore.  Jeff Bezos' business model becomes more and more complete by the day, and is on the path of becoming a multi-trillion dollar industry.  Their stock price recently surpassed the $1,000 mark.

However, all of this utopian retail system that Bezos has created has some blunt weaknesses that nobody has anticipated yet: anti-trust & monopolization complaints.  I'm not saying Amazon is going to fail, but there are bound to be some big cracks.  Do you remember the United States v. Microsoft case that settled in 2001? Several tech companies, including Sun Microsystems (now called Oracle) who felt intimidated & envious by Microsoft's rise during the 1990s internet & technology boom sued Microsoft for multiples of millions of dollars because Microsoft was considered a "monopoly".  Recently, the EU sued Google for anti-trust algorithms in their search engines for a whopping $3 BILLION DOLLARS.  This is actually quite a common practice of organizations, governments and smaller companies that lose to the "big guy".  Not because they are always right, but because they CAN, and WANT money and vengeance for losing and becoming the loser.

I would be surprised within the next decade if Amazon doesn't run into similar problems with their growth model.  Wal-Mart has become fiercely competitive in recent months with Amazon, so they are just one example of a company desiring revenge.  What about all of the smaller businesses that are no longer functioning properly? i.e. GameStop, Best Buy, Macys, Sears and Bed Bath and Beyond are just a handful of companies that are struggling and might want to sue Amazon.  In the end though, Amazon will ultimately survive all of the potential lawsuits against them because they have simply become the king retailer.

Friday, July 15, 2016

T-Mobile: victorious over Verizon

The cell/mobile phone provider industry isn't a particularly amusing topic.  However, when it comes to quality customer service there are very few companies that can get it right.  T-Mobile is only corporation in the telecommunications industry that has finally gotten it right.

For the last decade, Verizon was notoriously looked up to as being one of the first "quality" cell phone providers.  Notorious, of course, for ripping off their customers big time. That is, until US Cellular was taken over by T-Mobile, which migrate from Germany to the United States in 2012.  Now, T-Mobile has grown substantially across the United States and is building & expanding new cell phone towers across the USA and the world.

It is now becoming apparent to everyone that Verizon has been screwing people for years on their cell phone "Contract".  Verizon offers some phones at a discount (the same product rates that are easily found by a competitive third party on the Internet), but their monthly rates are locked into a Contract, so if you cancel your contract early you will owe a steep fee that can range from anywhere from $200 - $1,000+.  This is insane, but you have to sign up for the contract if you select Verizon.  Also, their monthly rates are extremely high in comparison to T-Mobile.  With a Verizon family contract with multiple phones, you can expect to pay around $350 per month easily, but with T-Mobile expect to pay around $150 - $200 maximum.  Furthermore, Verizon charges additional fees for using over a certain amount of "Data" which translates to Gigabytes.  Verizon has additional charges to use the cell phone in different countries, such as Mexico and has worse service. T-Mobile has no contract, has no data cap, so you can stop and start anytime and use the phone freely.  Also, there are no additional International Fees or a decline in service quality with T-Mobile.

It should be obvious to anyone that T-Mobile is the winner here.  I won't even compare T-Mobile to smaller mobile service providers like Sprint.  It is clear how much Verizon rips people off and yet they are now increasing their rates.  Verizon is a greed-based service provider and is poor on the customer satisfactions scale.  T-Mobile cares about their customers, has great technical support and is very friendly in their retail stores compared to Verizon.   T-Mobile and Verizon are the two largest telecommunications service providers, but T-Mobile has become a thorn in Verizon's side since they are gaining incredible momentum with customers that are simply leaving Verizon and switching to T-Mobile. 

People now realize the difference.

Microsoft Windows 10 Comprehensive Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Windows 10 is not a disaster like Windows 8.  Currently, Windows 10 is freely available until July 31, 2016 to all customers who already own Windows 7 and 8, and Microsoft is really pushing their customers to upgrade.  Millions have already upgraded, but many are still skeptical on upgrading since several times Microsoft has released buggy updates in the past that have damaged computers more than the previous release.  In fact, Windows 8 was such a horrible version of Windows that it completely negated all progress made in Windows 7 from Windows Vista/XP.  Windows 10 "fixes" all of the issues with Windows 8 and innovates more than previous versions.  It is easily downloaded and installed by the end user:

Features (5/5): Windows 10's strong point hands-down is its user-friendly features.  Windows Defender has now combined features of Microsoft Security Essentials and is set by default for anti-virus protection.  This gives the user more re-assurance that they may be more protected than before against malware.  It has also given Microsoft more leverage with security in order to compete with Apple (note that Mac computers and iPhones cannot get infected with malware).  Cortana, although the idea is somewhat ripped off of Apple's Siri, is a more convenient way of searching the computer and the web.  Microsoft Store, which mirrors Apple's iTunes features, is conveniently available for those users who want to make quick digital purchases for Xbox Games, Computer Games, TV Shows, Movies, etc.  The Windows 10 appearance is sharper and glossier than other versions, and a task bar exists for the OSAlthough Windows 10 combines the features of Windows 8 main screen (the awful "hammer-to-glass") is still there, but in melded with the Windows Start Button to make it less significant than its purpose in Windows 8.  Basically, Windows 10 combines both features of 8 / 8.1 and 7 but the ease-of-use is more similar to Windows 7.  The only adjustment you will need to make is that the classic menus and icons in all of the Documents, Control Panel, My Computer, Personalization, Display etc. look slightly different so you will need to get used to them or switch to a classic view.  Microsoft also streamlines the Groove Music Player as being their alternative player to the Windows Media Player (which the latter is fairly glitchy).  There are a variety of more convenient features and a more friendly look and appearance in Windows 10 than any other version of Windows.

Technicalities (3/5) -  Some troubles with Windows 10 arise with features that are currently loaded with bugs, that previously were non-existent in Windows 7 (Note I have never tried Windows 8 that much).  One major flaw in Windows 10 is creating a new User Account.  This is unnecessarily trickier and has more confusing specifications than before.  If you are an Administrator on your computer, than you can create user accounts, but Microsoft wants you to first login to an existing Microsoft Account through the Windows 10 interface that you have online currently (or you must create one).  This is highly convoluted and it is obvious in Microsoft's efforts that they are just trying to "get with the times" by inter-linking all of their existing software and Office 365 databases.  The entire "User and Accounts" section tries to force the user into using Microsoft's new system just to add an additional computer user, which is lousy.  Please see below picture on how each of the tabs in Windows 10 new setup has, in my opinion a negative effect on the Windows experience.  They should really have a local user option first instead of this new system in my opinion.  Each of these tabs on the left side pretty much try to force you to do the same thing by linking an online Microsoft Account into your OS:

Furthermore, the main problem arises when you try to create a user account through the traditional method.  Now you are forced to find the option called "Configure Advanced User Profile Properties" by typing in "user" into the Cortana search and then find the "To create new user accounts, click Accounts in Control Panel" which will bring you into classic view, but the bad part about this it will still bring you back to the previous picture and you will be forced to create a new account the stupid way.

The only way to create a new user account the traditional way is to use the command prompt and type in the "net user" codes (see online searches for more details on this).  This is unacceptable by Microsoft to block out the old way of creating user accounts, since this method is imperative to computer stability and safety in case you ever forget your password or just to have a backup account that is an administrator.  Microsoft must sort this mess out with the user account setup.

Other technical issues seem to appear at random depending on the age of the program you are using on the OS, since many programs are carried over from Windows 7.  Many programs which utilize graphics drivers will be completely disabled such as "ATI Catalyst Control Center", which stops you from customizing you graphics settings more thoroughly, and then you have to rely on Microsoft's streamlined system, which is a lot more dull.  Some random programs, such as CCleaner and Glary Utilities may be uninstalled at random, but not all of the time during the upgrade process, which is strange and inconsistent.  Other glitches that are small may be found in old outdated software, where you may experience some "overlapping" of text on a variety of objects, textures and window layering.  

Usability (4/5)For the most part, there isn't too much wrong with Windows 10.  You will still feel right at home no matter what you do and the program installs easily.  Of course, if you are like me you may want to disable a lot of the Microsoft add-ons during the installation since many are unnecessary and are potential privacy hazards.  Microsoft Edge is a pretty interesting web browser, but it is still buggy.  Some websites with Edge will decide not work at random, is not compatible with IBM Trusteer (unlike Internet Explorer).  The "go" button has a liquid-like flow sensation when you are moving from website to website, but sometimes you wonder if you actually clicked the go button or if it just didn't work.  Almost all of the menus have been redone, but they all pretty much do the same thing that they achieved in Windows 7 before it (except for the User Accounts mentioned in section 2 and streamlined Graphics adjustments).  

All Microsoft Office software works just as good as before, but internet streaming and heavy RAM-intensive PC games such as Minecraft WILL WORK WORSE THAN BEFORE, UNLESS you have a powerful enough PC to handle Windows 10 with gaming.  Be careful before upgrading because you will want to make sure you have 1) At least 6 GB of memory, and 2)AMD or Intel Quad-core processor.  This is very important in order to handle the extra RAM and CPU usage keep this in mind before proceeding to update.  If you have a Microsoft Surface, mobile phone or a separate device that is NOT a PC, the software for Windows 10 or a variation of the programming should already be installed and configured for your device.

Overall (4/5): Windows 10 is worth the upgrade for newer PCs.  Older PCs I do not recommend because they will slow down to the point where it is no longer a positive experience using the computer.  The glitches and bugs should get fully resolved by Microsoft over time as their engineers discover the errors that occur.  Overall, you aren't going to have a huge level of experience difference than before since it is more of a graphical upgrade that makes Windows look flashier and bubblier.  However, Windows 10 does has some excellent features that are mandatory at the same time, such as the Windows Defender, faster security updates and search features.  

Tesla Motors: Future in Electric Vehicles

Tesla Motors is a fairly new company that specializes in developing the highest quality electric cars to the consumer market to date.  The mastermind and CEO of the company has primarily been Elon Musk, a man of great ambition who wants to overhaul the current car market which relies on gasoline/natural gas which is refined from crude oil and open up the alternate energy market beyond its current level.  This would make for a more stable, healthier earth environment with zero emissions from the cars that won't contribute to Global Warming and the cars that are electric are safer (debatable).

So far Tesla Motors has or has had the Model S, Model X and Model Roadster on the market.  The Model S is the current model mainly being sold each quarter around 15,000 new purchases for a fairly hefty price of around $70,000.  Model S still a car well-worth it to many affluent people due to its futuristic nature, high speeds and horsepower of 315 to 532 hp, a beautiful interior with flat screen panels, and an absolutely gorgeous exterior.  The Model X is similar with 328 to 532 hp but has not sold as many due to manufacturer recalls and a steeper cost of $80,000.  Tesla Roadster is no longer available and was an early "racing" model that was primarily involved in testing from 2008-2012.  The cost of the Roadster was around $101,500.  Not affordable to the average Joe.  However, the bottom line is that Tesla has indeed manufactured the best electric cars known to mankind and has influenced other companies to join the market, such as General Motors introduced the GM Bolt.  Unlike the GM Bolt, Tesla specializes in the technology better and has created a larger vehicle.  Tesla vehicles are cars which need to have the battery charged at a charging station, a Tesla dock or at home.  There is absolutely NO GASOLINE required.

Tesla Motors shocked the world when Elon Musk unveiled its new Model 3.  This mass production vehicle was introduced April 1, 2016 (clever) for a much more reasonable cost of $35,000.  Already 500,000 reservations have been made and Tesla has promised delivery of these vehicles to its customers in 2017 and 2018.  Each reservation only costs $1,000 to reserve which is fully refundable.  The big question is can Tesla build 500,000 vehicles in a timely manner?

Although Tesla Motors is a fairly new company that is far away from making a net profit, it has introduced something spectacular: the electric car which runs on clean, solar energy.  If Model 3 delivery runs smoothly, then there could be a very promising future for Tesla.

The Rise of and Decline of Old-School Retail

Over the past five years, has gained huge momentum and has grown into the superior retailer in comparison to most companies.  Once Amazon Prime started to appeal with the "FREE Two Day Shipping" back in 2011, they were already on the right path to growth.  Since then, has created their own devices such as the Kindle and Fire, offered numerous unique sales, introduced Amazon Pantry, streamlined their music (which was what Amazon originally was created on during its early days in 1997-2000), created the Prime video streaming for TV Shows, Movies and other content both for free and for low-cost and has made all sorts of bold moves and risks to improve itself.  The list goes on and on and they are continuously improving.  This is all thanks to Jeff Bezos who is both the mastermind and CEO of the company.  Now, what Bezos wants from his business is that which could shake the world of retail down to its core: Groceries and Restaurants.

Amazon has already put a dent in the electronics business.  This means Amazon's superiority has already been well proven over, but is not limited to: Best Buy, GameStop, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Target and several stores that have already gone out of business in the past decade such as Borders Books & Music.  This isn't because those stores were bad, but they failed to keep up with modern technology and the internet, while kept continuously expanding their real estate by opening up additional large department stores, until they reached a point where money loss was apparent.  Amazon does not have any department stores but operates completely online and uses select warehouse locations to ship all across the country.  While Amazon hasn't made a true net profit until the last year in 2015, they are continuously improving their quality of customer service, merchant services, introducing new ideas, and has even gone as far to improving their 2-day shipping by ensuring it with their OWN Amazon Shipping Service in case UPS, USPS and FedEx fail for some reason.  No company has gone as far as Amazon has in believing the "Customer is Always Right".  That is the biggest difference here.  It is also the age of the internet now, and driving distances to department stores can be a royal pain in the back.  Amazon is always delivering 1-day, 2-day or even same-day which is extremely more convenient for anyone.  Now that they have started making net profit after a long period of growth and expansion (which they are still growing and expanding), it is apparent that the path to the future of retail has been claimed by them.

It doesn't end there.  I think that Amazon's growth has just started.  While right now, they have obviously gained much superiority over ecommerce with electronics & supplies, they still have more room for improvement.  Amazon can and most likely will improve their international shipping at some point.  Right now Amazon only has been expanding its business operations around the United States, but they will definitely want to open up to international operations at some point.  That will give them a heavy amount of expansion.  If they want to be the "biggest and the best", they will need to be the ultimate retailer and have dominance over all of the niche markets beyond electronics: sporting goods & supplies (which right now retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods have momentum), food, groceries and restaurants (as mentioned earlier), improvement of their Drone delivery system, beauty supplies and high-end clothing (Macy's still has dominance), etc.  They still have a long way to go before they become a trillion-dollar corporation.  The competition Amazon has with Target Corporation is still apparent, but Wal-Mart has been hurt since Wal-Mart used to pride itself on low prices, horrible customer service and poorly maintained stores.  Amazon promoted high-standard quality of service at good reasonable prices, while Wal-Mart basically sent the message that they offered the lowest quality everything at a low cost and in the end Wal-Mart screwed themselves.  This is why good customer service is very important, and two companies caught on quickly with this: and Apple, Inc.  Now, there seems to be a general trend amongst big corporations in America to improve their customer service.  For example, Wal-Mart is now trying to improve their quality of stores and service, but is has been a struggle overall for them since they expanded everywhere across the world by building an infrastructure based on poor service quality.  Microsoft caught on with Apple's trend, and has made Windows 10 which is much more user friendly than any other version of Windows.

When will Amazon's growth reach its peak? Probably not until Jeff Bezos is satisfied.  The AMZN stock price has jumped in less than 2 years from around $400/share to around $750/share, which is insane.  Their stock hasn't split in the longest time so that means the company is still not satisfied with their growth, and implies they may be working on more ideas to improve and grow. Jeff Bezos surprisingly created a separate entity called "Blue Origin" which is supposed to be involved with the final frontier of outer space.  Is this just a foreshadowing of something greater to come? We shall see.