Business

Alive And Kickin’: Country’s Historic Buildings Still Breathe Life Into Business

When the USA Network shot a Willie Nelson special at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 2002, one of the numerous guests — some guy named Keith Richards — moved to the front edge of the stage during rehearsals, broke a rule by lighting up a cigarette and took a few long breaths as he soaked up the history of the place. The Ryman is one of country’s iconic venues celebrating major anniversaries this year after at least five decades since their founding: The Ryman turned 125, RCA Studio B observed its 60th anniversary in October, and the John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas, hosted Nelson at the close of its 75th anniversary celebrations in October. Fresh, new arenas and modern studios may change the landscape for musicians, but the classic buildings offer a co...

Apple fans lose sleep in wild dash to grab new iPhone X

Want an iPhone X today? Good luck, unless you staked out a spot at an Apple store. Long lines — some snaking for blocks — of Apple enthusiasts are greeting Apple store employees this morning. The iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) officially hits store shelves today, though customers willing to wake up early on Oct. 27 were able to preorder the smartphone, which starts at $999 and features an all-new 5.8-inch super retina display with OLED screen. Tech analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said he expects every iPhone X that’s available today will sell out. But it won’t be the tech giant’s bestselling model. “It’s sharing the lineup with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and they’ll take a decent amount of share of sales this year, too,” he said this morning...

Russian Digital Services Push Restrictions on Free Music Streaming

Major Russian social networking websites, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, and the music streaming service Boom have introduced restrictions on free music streaming at the request of rights holders as the owner, Mail.ru Group, moves to monetize the streaming service, which replaced illegitimate, user-generated content. “Free streaming in the background mode on VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and Boom will now be limited to 30 minutes a day,” a spokesperson for United Media Agency (UMA), which handles music licensing deals for Mail.ru Group, told Billboard. “Users can remove the restrictions and get access to additional features by launching a paid subscription,” she went on to say. The subscription costs 149 rubles ($2.6) a month, and Mail.Ru Group has not revealed the number ...

Pressure Mounts on Apple to Live Up to Hype for iPhone X

The iPhone X’s lush screen, facial-recognition skills and $1,000 price tag are breaking new ground in Apple’s marquee product line. Now, the much-anticipated device is testing the patience of consumers and investors as demand outstrips suppliers’ capacity. Apple said Thursday that iPhone sales rose 3 percent in the July-September quarter, a period that saw the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come out in the final weeks. Sales could have been higher if many customers hadn’t been waiting for the iPhone X, which comes out Friday. Apple shipped 46.7 million iPhones during the period, according to its fiscal fourth-quarter report released Thursday. That’s up from 45.5 million at the same time last year after the iPhone 7 came out, but represents a step back from the same time in 2015, when Apple shipped 48...

Apple’s iTunes Division Touts Record $8.5B Revenue

Apple might be a hardware company, but its software and services business is becoming increasingly important.  The tech giant on Thursday reported that its services division — which includes iTunes, Apple Music and other software — had generated record quarterly revenue of $8.5 billion, up 34 percent from the same period last year. The focus on services, which is led by senior vp Eddy Cue, is part of CEO Tim Cook’s 2016 goal of doubling its annual revenue in the segment by 2020. On a call with investors, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said that Apple Music is seeing its highest level to date of people converting from free trials to paid subscriptions. He also disclosed that subscriptions are up 75 percent year-over-year. Apple reported in September that Music had reached 30 million subscribe...

Live Nation Reports Best Q3 on Record, Revenue Up 12%

Concert promotion giant says it’s on track for best financial year in company history. Live Nation reported its best third quarter in the company’s history and is on track for a record year for earnings and operating incoming. According to the company’s financial results, Live Nation is reporting a revenue increase of 12 percent per quarter and an earnings per share increase of $0.53, up eight percent over the same period in 2017.  Despite the record earnings, Live Nation slightly missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $.55 a share, bringing about a 1.3 percent dip in share price, ending the day at $40.92, a 53 percent increase from the same period last year.  Live Nation reported a year-to-date earnings per share of $.62 which is up 82 percent over the same period last year. For the...

Japan Inc gingerly embraces more foreigners

MICHAEL WOODFORD, the first non-Japanese president of Olympus, likened the camera-maker’s board members who sacked him in 2011 to “children in a classroom”. Mr Woodford had confronted Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, the company’s imperious chairman, over a $1.7bn hole in its finances. Mr Kikukawa responded by orchestrating a show of hands in a boardroom coup that sent the Englishman packing. It all fitted a cliché of Japan’s boardrooms as an all-Japanese, all-male club where wizened bosses ruthlessly enforce wa, or harmony. Gradually, the serenity is being disrupted. Nearly 15% of companies in the Nikkei 225 stock index now have at least one non-Japanese on their boards. That is still less than half the share in Britain’s FTSE 100, but it is up from 12% in 2013 and the trajectory seems set. Japan’s big...

A merger between CVS Health and Aetna could be what the doctor ordered

STANLEY and Sidney Goldstein would scarcely recognise their creation. In 1963 the brothers opened a humble storefront in Lowell, Massachusetts, selling health and beauty products. Determined to put customers first, they named their enterprise Consumer Value Stores. Today the Goldsteins’ startup, soon afterwards sold to a bigger firm, is nothing short of a health-care Goliath. Revenues at CVS Health reached $177bn last year, riches which come from 9,700 retail pharmacies and from its operations in mail-order drugs and sales of more expensive speciality medicines. The firm commands nearly a quarter of the American market for prescription drug sales (see chart). It is also the biggest pharmacy-benefit manager (PBM) in America, a type of middleman that negotiates bulk discounts on drugs with l...

IKEA undertakes some home improvements

ON A Sunday afternoon, just beyond London’s M25 ring road, shoppers participate in the ritual that is a trip to IKEA. Fuelled by a lunch of Swedish meatballs, they negotiate their way around the 400,000-square-foot maze of a store, past children playing hide and seek and couples arguing over the merits of a PAX over a HEMNES wardrobe. Hours later, they emerge, wearily pushing trolleys loaded with flat-pack furniture and far more tea lights than they had intended to buy. The joy of assembly still awaits them. This experience has changed remarkably little since the late 1950s, when IKEA, which is still privately owned, set up its first store in southern Sweden and found that people would travel long distances for low-cost, self-assembled goods. IKEA has become the world’s largest seller of f...

Many Japanese-made cars enjoy an afterlife in Myanmar, but not for much longer

THE Japanese make cars that last but replace them relatively quickly. The average car in Japan is three years younger than in America. This combination of durable manufacturing and dutiful consumption of a prized national product works out well for the rest of the world; many countries import older Japanese cars in bulk. Secondhand vehicles fill vast parking lots in Japan’s port cities, awaiting shipment to New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere. The third-most-popular destination is Myanmar, which imported over 80,000 used Japanese vehicles in the first nine months of this year, according to Japan’s International Auto Trade Association. Drivers believe that Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans can stand up to the country’s pockmarked roads, a faith not yet shown in South Korean and Ch...

Japanese cars enjoy an afterlife in Myanmar, but not for much longer

THE Japanese make cars that last but replace them relatively quickly. The average car in Japan is three years younger than in America. This combination of durable manufacturing and dutiful consumption of a prized national product works out well for the rest of the world; many countries import older Japanese cars in bulk. Secondhand vehicles fill vast parking lots in Japan’s port cities, awaiting shipment to New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere. The third-most-popular destination is Myanmar, which imported over 80,000 used Japanese vehicles in the first nine months of this year, according to Japan’s International Auto Trade Association. Drivers believe that Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans can stand up to the country’s pockmarked roads, a faith not yet shown in South Korean and Ch...

Dark tourism spooks its way into the mainstream

ONE recent morning in Salem in the state of Massachusetts, a witch ran out of wands. Teri Kalgren, the owner of Artemisia Botanicals, an apothecary and magic shop, attributed the shortage to a witch-inspired boom. People have long flocked to Salem to learn about the infamous witch trials of 1692, in which Puritan hysteria led to the executions of 20 people (and two dogs). But since 1982 when the city introduced Haunted Happenings, a daylong Halloween festival for local families, the event has expanded to a commercial celebration lasting a month that attracts 500,000 tourists. Last year tourism pumped $104m into Salem and funded some 800 jobs. The revenues have been increasing by 5-6% every year, says Kate Fox of Destination Salem, the city’s marketing arm. Tourists can buy a spell kit, vis...