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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Will Nintendo's Wii Strategy Score?:By Brian Bremner


If the Japanese company attracts new gamers with its innovative but
not quite cutting-edge console, it could alter the industry


Killer processing power, high-definition graphics, WiFi connectivity,
massive storage capacity—when it comes to game consoles, the
presumption has always been the more functionality and speed, the
better. Well, Nintendo (NTDOY) will launch its next-gen game machine
called the Wii in the U.S. on Nov. 19, followed by Japan and Europe
in early December. And the Kyoto-based company is making a huge
strategic bet that "less is more" in the global game-console market.


Compared with the Sony (SNE) PlayStation3 and the Xbox 360 by
Microsoft (MSFT), the Wii doesn't boast blistering chip speeds or
cutting-edge graphics. Still, it's a cool game console and boasts
some unique features, such as a wireless controller that can send a
signal up to 30 feet away. It will retail for about $250 in the U.S.
and include one wireless controller, one "Nunchuk" controller, and
five different sports games.


It will also cost less than half what Sony hopes to fetch for its
PS3, due out in November in the U.S. and Japan (Europe will have to
wait until March, 2007). The PS3 features a super-fast Cell
processor, which was co-developed with IBM (IBM) and Toshiba (TOSBF),
and a Blu-ray DVD player that promises to deliver high-definition
video. The standard Xbox, already on the market for about $400, is
powered by IBM chips that also pack plenty of processing oomph, scads
of memory, and quality graphics.


ALTERNATIVE APPEAL. Nintendo is clearly trying to position the Wii
as a low-budget alternative. Although it also features an IBM chip,
Nintendo's development team concluded that "while we needed adequate
processing power, there was a threshold beyond which customers didn't
really need more," said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-
Aime. By not investing heavily in a technology like Blu-ray, the "Wii
will be profitable from day one," he adds (see BusinessWeek.com,
9/14/06, "Hot Chips and Cool Consoles").


Nintendo thinks its game consoles—the Wii and the Nintendo DS
handheld—will appeal to a mass market of first-time game players,
women, and older consumers not typically drawn to this form of
interactive entertainment. The Wii "has been designed to appeal even
to people who aren't interested in games," Nintendo President Satoru
Iwata told reporters near Tokyo last week.


Investors like Nintendo's chances. The company's stock is up 74%
since April, and its quarterly results released in July were robust
thanks to the DS. For the three months through June, Nintendo's sales
rocketed 85%, to $1.1 billion, while operating profit increased
almost eightfold, to $248 million. A weak yen helped, but a tripling
of DS sales to 4.54 million units was the biggest factor behind the
better-than-expected results (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/25/06, "DS Pays
Off for Nintendo").


ADVANTAGE SONY? Though the Wii doesn't boast all the features and
processing firepower of its rivals, Nintendo believes its easy-to-use
controller will give it an edge. The Wii's wireless controllers can
be moved through the air like a virtual sword, tennis racket, or
weapon to pinpoint targets in a game or rifle through the Wii channel
menu. About 30 new game titles will be available by yearend, the
company says. Nintendo expects to ship 4 million boxes, primarily to
the U.S., this year, and another 2 million through March, 2007.


Few expect truly dedicated gamers to choose the Wii over the PS3 or
Xbox. And ultimately, the advantage may go to Sony. Yuta Sakurai, an
analyst at Nomura Securities in Tokyo, expects the PS3 to sell 71
million units by 2011, compared with 40 million units for the Wii.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is planning a stripped-down version of the Xbox
without a hard-disk drive and other accessories that will cost about
$250 in Japan, where the U.S. software maker has endured
disappointing results. There's also a danger that the Wii could
cannibalize sales of the DS, which has been a smash hit with casual
gamers thanks to its user-friendly design and titles such as New
Super Mario Bros., Nintendogs, and the Brain Training for Adults
series.


It's definitely going to be a World of Warcraft moment in the game-
console market when the Wii, PS3, and Xbox are all competing for
consumers' hearts and dollars, euros, or yen. A particularly strong
showing by Nintendo may signal that reaching new gamers is more about
ease of use than processor muscle and high-end graphics. If so, the
Wii could be a game changer.


Bremner is BusinessWeek's Asia Regional Editor based in Hong Kong.
With Steve Hamm in New York
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Fast-Food Chains Buck the Healthy Trend: By Pallavi Gogoi


Burger joints are making healthy profits by catering to Americans'
appetite for beefed-up menus at bargain prices. (Burp!)


Two years ago, just as all sorts of fast-food restaurants were adding
salads and healthier items to their menus, Andrew F. Puzder went in
the opposite direction. The chief executive of CKE Restaurants (CKR),
which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurant chains, bet that
what his customers really wanted were even bigger, juicier, and
better-tasting burgers. Super size? Try monster size. He introduced a
1,400-calorie burger called the 1-lb Double Six Dollar Burger for
$5.49 and followed that up with a series of artery-clogging
sandwiches.


Customers have been gobbling them up. On June 27, CKE announced that
same-store sales for the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. chains were up an
average of 4.7% for the four weeks that ended June 19. The company's
sales are expected to rise about 5%, to $1.6 billion, for the fiscal
year ending this January. Puzder boasted at the company's annual
shareholder meeting on June 27: "Our premium, innovative products are
second to none and copied by most." Investors love the attitude,
sending CKE's shares up more than 20% so far this year.


Hardee's gift to consumers fed up with "healthier" and "low-fat" menu
items is a line of sandwiches called Thickburgers, introduced in
2004. The Monster Thickburger, which debuted in November, 2004, is
made of two one-third-pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of
bacon, three slices of cheese, and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame
seed bun and is trumpeted as "a monument to decadence." Even today,
the tribute to indulgence at Hardee's marches on. Its latest
addition? A burger with "meat as a condiment." The Philly Cheesesteak
Thickburger features a one-third-pound Thickburger patty topped with
sliced steak, cheese, green peppers, and onions.


U.S. BARGAIN SHOPPERS. Stomach churning? Perhaps. But the Hardee's
experience is a reflection of America today. Americans thrive on
value and bargains. Good health be damned, if there's a good bargain
to be found. If people can drive the extra 30 miles in their quest
for everyday values to shop at discounter Wal-Mart (WMT) or hunt for
treasures at warehouse club Costco (COST) or at the dollar store, why
should they settle for less when they stop at a restaurant? "Value is
a big lure," says Brian Wansink, professor of food marketing at
Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Compared to a basic burger, if
you get something really huge for just 45 cents, more is worth
trading up to, especially for young men who like to leave a
restaurant feeling really full."


Even McDonald's (MCD), which has been at the forefront of adding
healthy items to its menu, like premium salads and sliced apples for
children, recently launched the World Cup Burger during the six weeks
of the World Cup soccer games. The burger, 40% larger than a Big Mac,
is a whopping 1,227 calories, or more than half of the 2,000 daily
recommended calorie intake.


As research already shows, Americans are eating more hamburgers,
french fries, and fried chicken than before (see BusinessWeek.com,
11/9/05, "Fat Times for Fast Food"). And fast-food restaurants are
giving it to customers in ever-more appealing forms. This year, in a
nod to the increasing influence of new immigrants and globalization,
almost all the nation's fast-food restaurants adopted new, spicy
foods. McDonald's launched its spicy chicken sandwich, and Hardee's
introduced a jalapeño sandwich, which became a permanent item after
its limited-time introduction. Sonic (SONC) also introduced its own
jalapeño cheeseburger. "Burgers are the No. 1 entrée ordered in
America," says Harry Balzer, vice-president at researcher NPD Food
World. "It's good to experiment with different ways of consuming such
a popular food and give people reasons to come back one more time."


CHEESECAKE, TOO. The advertising isn't shy either. For instance,
Hardee's has thrived on luring young men into its restaurants by
using suggestive ads, the most famous of which showed the socialite
Paris Hilton in a swimsuit soaping down a Bentley and taking a bite
out of a hamburger. "You can see young men say, that's the brand for
me," says Jeffrey Davis, president of restaurant researcher Sandelman
& Associates. "These young men have big appetites and are certainly
not dieters."


Puzder may infuriate health advocates who bemoan the fact that
obesity levels in the U.S. are at record highs and who feel that
chains like McDonald's and Hardee's are contributing to the problem.
But the chief executive says the issue is simply about choice, the
long-held American value of letting people make their own decisions.
Hardee's, he says, is giving people what they want, not what some
Washington bureaucrat says they should want. "People know they can go
to a fast-food restaurant and get burgers of quality that they could
get at a sit-down restaurant, for a better price and faster," says
Brad Haley, executive vice-president for marketing at Hardee's and
Carl's Jr.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF EXCELLENCE
Written by Jim Zabloski

If excellence is the dream you wish to achieve, either professionally
or personally, you should know the six characteristics of excellence.
Excellence Is Attainable

Few businesses are running an excellent race. Those numbers
discourage the average manger or CEO into thinking he or she could
never build an excellent company. Size is no respecter when it comes
to excellence, either.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence is attainable if you burn it into your mind, heart, and
soul. It must become you, not just a part of you. It is corporate;
one or two doubters in your organization will become the cancer that
stifles progress. You must cultivate excellence in every capacity, in
every job description, in every task.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence Is Painful: In many cases, achieving excellence is a
laborious, treacherous road that most would rather not travel.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence Is a Measure of Success:
True, you may double your income in ten years by playing lowball with your vendors or salespeople, and you might even gain a reputation for superior service through slick advertising gimmicks, but none of that can endure for long before the wary eye of the public sifts out the truth. Once that happens, no force on earth can save a drowning company from the death it probably deserves.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence Is a Motivator:
Excellence demands that we think beyond our dreams; it demands that we take action. It tells us to line our ducks up in the right order, evaluate them, and possibly shoot a few in the process. Excellence says you can when the world
screams "Impossible!" It challenges the heart, encourages the soul,
and excites the mind. But excellence is never, never boring.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence Is a Process
Excellence can be attained, but it takes a long time to get there, and once there you will find more places that need an excellence overhaul. The search for excellence never stops.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Excellence Is a Standard:
I contend that God and His business standards are the best. They are the standards by which we can measure success. Why not strive to be like the One who is a shining example of perfection for us in our personal and business lives?
So, let's get to the nitty-gritty. If you plant some of the following seeds of excellence in your work, you will begin cultivating an excellent spirit among those around you. Insist others do the same, and watch the garden of excellence produce in abundance.
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Re: cool retail - November 22nd, 2006

Seeds of Excellence

· Remember names and people.
· Be a comfortable company.
· Avoid egotism.
· Develop an interest in others.
· Continually refine and polish.
· Heal misunderstandings.
· Award achievement.
· Regret disappointment.
· Give before getting.
· Feed your staff needs.
· List objectives.
· Plaster excellence everywhere.
· Smile realistically.
· Look people in the eye
· Shake hands vigorously.
· Listen intently to everyone.
· Get excited about your work. Work toward perfection.
· Read inspirational material.
· Train your people.
· Be flexible.
· Practice generosity.
· Isolate problems and deal with them.
· Celebrate more often.
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