You might not think of the coffee industry as a particularly competitive one, but it is a cutthroat world. Right now, Keurig, a Vermont-based company, has nearly total control over the coffee industry. With exclusive agreements with powerhouses like McCafe and Maxwell House, there seem to be only Keurig machines out there.
But a small, family owned company has started a guerilla war against Keurig – economically, that is. This war seems to be set to hurt Keurig’s market while also saving the environment.
Nearly a year ago, the president of Rogers Family Coffee, Jon Rogers, heard rumors that Keurig was about to distribute a new type of brewing machine that would prevent other companies (like Rogers’) brewing pods from working in them. Unfortunately, he had no idea how those machines were going to work.
Rogers, together with other coffee companies, had already gone to the courts to try and stop Keurig from implementing its unfair coffee management system. But a few months ago, Jon decided that enough was enough and created a workaround to the copyright system that the Keurig machine was using.
The workaround was a small plastic chip that can be fitted permanently into the Keurig machines. It was named the Freedom Clip, and it was an extremely powerful tool to fight against Keurig’s monopoly. Moreover, it also avails customers with new environmentally friendly options.
The Freedom Clip
When the new Keurig models hit the stores late in 2014, it became apparent that the copyright system made use of ink printed on coffee pod labels. Any pod that did not have the proper ink was rejected, which ensured that people would only use the new Keurig pods. In fact, the machines also locked out older Keurig pods since they had not been inked according to the new system.
One of Rogers’ suppliers brought him the Freedom Clip. It put the plastic chip between the coffee pod and the recognition ray and fooled the ray into recognizing the pod as one of Keurig’s.
There are many DIY hacks that can be found on websites that people could have used to circumvent the copyright system, but Rogers decided to get the clip made by his own supplier. He turned the Freedom Clip into a beautiful marketing strategy and offered one of the clips to anyone who wanted it, for free.
Rogers also included three pods made by his company with the first batch of ten thousand clips, but shipping costs became too high to allow him to continue that. To date, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Rogers and requested the clips. High demand has created a waiting list; some customers have reported waiting for months before they got their clip!
The clip has been an effective marketing strategy, and more people are hearing about Rogers and the Freedom Clip every day. The company has effectively broken open the market that belonged only to Keurig and brought every company onto a level playing field.
The clip will add insult to an already injured Keurig, which has reported decreased sales. This lowering of sales volume has partly being caused by the frustration caused by the new machines. People took to the Internet in droves to complain about them, which put off other customers from buying them. Coffee maker review sites helped this situation reach its climax.
If you follow the current trend, sales of Keurig brewers will drop by more than twenty percent in this quarter, and the dip will probably continue till the end of the year.
The environmental issue
Keurig machines usually have a huge negative impact on the environment. Keurig’s K-cups aren’t compostable, and only a few of its pods are fully recyclable. Since the lids aren’t recyclable, and sometimes can’t even be separated from the cups, most of the cups go to waste.
This means that a lot of the cups are sent to the landfill. Some time ago, someone estimated that if you lined up all the cups that Keurig sold in 2014, you would form a line that would encircle the equator more than twelve times. And that’s only in 2014. What if you calculate all the cups that have been sold since 2007?
And statistics show that sales of K-cups aren’t likely to go down soon. Nearly a quarter of all people who have single-cup brewers will probably buy one in the future.
Unfortunately, Keurig offers no other type of cup right now. And this is where other companies come in. They produce pods which are already nearly a hundred percent compostable, and in the future they plan to eliminate the ‘nearly’, releasing totally compostable pods.
Keurig already knows how much flak it is taking over the environment issue, but they have not commented on it lately.
Keurig announced in 2013 that they would make all their cups completely recyclable by the year 2020, but most people say that this is too long. If other companies can produce such cups right now, why would it take a huge company like Keurig five years to do the same?
The company’s official position is that they are slowly transitioning until 2020, when the cups will become fully recyclable, but we haven’t seen much of a transition in the past year.
Keurig is also looking into a compostable cup, but they aren’t moving ahead with that because of concerns over the lack of infrastructure for composting. In 2010, Keurig actually introduced a compostable pod, but the product was withdrawn within months because ‘the product didn’t remain fresh in the cups’.
It should also be noted that K-cups are not the only way that the company affects the environment. In fact, the cups only represent a small portion of the total impact of the company. The company is currently trying to increase efficiency and eliminate most of the waste that is released during manufacture.
Even if you leave alone environmental effects for now, the Freedom Clip is still something very important. It has succeeded in leveling the field for smaller coffee producers, and some analysts are even predicting that it might hurt Keurig’s licenses since it won’t be able to ensure exclusivity anymore.
Unfortunately, the market probably won’t remain level for long. When you try to fight back from outside the system, you have to continually fight to remain ahead of new developments.
Some people say that CDs have been dead for years. But in reality, there were nearly 150 million CDs sold last year, only in the U.S. So, in this case, death is quite an exaggeration. It just refers to a situation where something that was once popular withers at a surprising rate.
In that case, digital music sales are also dying. Both CD and digital music sales went down last year, and both dived by more than 10%. In a market where we talk about hundreds of millions, 10% is a really high number.
Recorded music is giving out really slowly, but it is giving out. Illegal downloads and digitization were the beginning of the end. The popularity of iTunes and music players destroyed the album. The destruction of the album caused a downward spiral in record sales. But now, the killer of recorded music is also being killed. People are moving towards streaming services. And now the music business is only thriving in places like concert halls and in concepts like advertising.
Streaming services like Pandora and Spotify provide a perfectly legal way for people to listen to music while only paying a one-time fee. And let’s not forget YouTube. YouTube is actually a completely free method that people are using to listen to music. Some people are even taking advantages of services that convert YouTube videos to MP3 and ripping tracks from websites! All these factors seem to indicate that the digital music market is going to go the same way as the CD.
Surprisingly, only two portions of the music industry are rising. The first is streaming and the second is vinyl album sales. And vinyl album sales have risen because of increased interest in cultural anachronisms.
Vinyl is rising at a surprisingly fast rate, but if you relate it to the overall music market, it makes next to no impact. While vinyl sales have risen by nearly half, the CD market is nearly fifteen times larger than it.
Most people think that the music industry has become more lucrative in recent years. But in truth, the increase in competition has actually hurt artists and engendered a situation where the top one percent of musicians is earning nearly eighty percent of the revenue from recorded music. You’ll have to go to streamed music to see how lucrative the market has become.
Fortunately, the streaming music market is not that focused. The huge variety of music available from streaming services (which is boosted by the enormous number of mixes and remixes) has led to a diffusion of the type of music being streamed.
The most popular music in terms of revenue is not necessarily the most popular on streaming services. In fact, the top ten songs have accounted for less than two percent of streamed music in the last two years.
However you look at it, it seems a foregone conclusion that digital music sales are dying. However, humans as a species are hard to predict, and we can’t accurately predict what happens in the future. What seems to be obvious right now may change in the space of seconds, and what seems to be conjecture may turn into reality spontaneously. All we can do to know what will happen in the music industry is to wait and to watch.
Recently, QuiBids.com introduced a brand new feature that they are calling Locked Auctions. Let’s see what this is about.
What are they?
QuiBids says that this feature is present on most auctions, and it is used to limit the competition for each auction. It works by locking out any bidder who is not active in the auction after a certain point. All auctions that have this feature are labeled and have a padlock icon on them.
After a specific amount of bids are placed on the auction, the icon shows a locked icon and new bidders won’t be allowed to participate in the auction. This is great because it allows those people who have been spending time and money on the auction from its beginning a higher chance to succeed.
Benefits of locked auctions
- No more jumping
All you experience bidders probably know that jumpers are people who jump into an auction after it has already been going on for some time. Such people usually dive in at the last second and prolong auctions.
Auctions get locked randomly. This means that you can quite possibly participate in an easier auction every time you bid!
- Smoother auctions
Many customers of QuiBids complain that it is very hard to win their auctions. But this feature will actually help customers to win the auctions more easily since there will be less competition in the auction.
- Less Stress!
If you’re participating in an auction and it locks down, you know that the auction will be much easier to win. You want have to worry about jumpers making the auction more time-consuming and you’ll be able to relax.
How do I not get locked out?
- Participate a lot
If a bidder has not bid on an item for a long time, they will be locked out. Actually, this time is not fixed and bidders will have more time to bid on the high price auctions and less time on less costly auctions. If you participate a lot (relatively) you shall never be locked out of any auction. QuiBids has released some calculations which will influence how much you have to bid to avoid being locked out. Generally, divide the Value Price by four and bid once every *answer* minutes. This means that if you are bidding for a $20 item, you will have to bid at least once every five minutes. There is great potential to lose money this way so make sure you read this article to prevent that from happening: Quibids Review – Penny Auction Police
FAQ about locked auctions
- After how long does an auction lock?
The time that it takes for an auction to lock is not fixed. It depends on many things like the bids being placed, the Value Price and other factors. There are clear guidelines on how to avoid being locked out on the QuiBids blog.
- Why do locked auctions also lock out people who have already bid?
Simple. This is a safeguard that protects the average bidder from power bidders. If it were not present, power bidders would just bid in the beginning and then hang around waiting for the competition to thin out.
- What causes an auction to lock?
The main factor that comes into play for locked auctions is the time factor. Mainly auctions lock depending on the Value Price of the item being auctioned. However, there are a few other factors that will affect the time taken. Generally, a lower Value Price will mean that there will be less time taken for the auction to become locked.
To most people, it has quickly become obvious that mobile games are turning into cash cows, at least for a few lucky games. In fact, mobile games are making millions, no, billions of dollars nowadays. Recently some new statistics have been spread all over the Internet.
Superdata, a company that deals with virtual item sales, releases figures for some games’ annual revenue. The figures suggest, among other things, that three games in 2014 have made over a billion dollars. These are Candy Crush with one billion dollars, Puzzle and Dragons with one and a half billion dollars and at the top is Clash of Clans with nearly two billion dollars!
However, some website don’t believe these stats, saying that such an amount of revenue for Clash of Clans would mean that its revenues have increased by a hundred to three hundred percent, which is admittedly hard to believe.
Nonetheless, mobile games have exploded in popularity, and if Clash of Clans’ revenue increased in the Far East, the $1.8 billion dollar figure is certainly possible.
The free Clash of Clans accounts business has been booming as well due to this reason. It is estimated that these websites generate revenue of a couple hundred dollars per day.
Back to back auctions were scheduled in the Clarks Auction Room in the New Year. Previously the Christmas auction held in the same location was hugely popular with people and new auctions were expected to ride on the festive hype. The sale on 1st January show cases various pieces of antique furniture and collectors’ items while another one scheduled two days later tried to sell off general items.
The stuff ranged from low ranged show pieces to expensive period furniture. Some die cast toys went up for sale costing in the range of £8- £10. The miniature Chinese toys collection sold off fast with little cars being the most popular items. A set of Dresden peacocks fetched £110 comfortably.
The furniture collection had representations from all the prominent periods. Pieces ranging from the old high doors and the very modern aluminium bifold doors sold off fast due to the attractive pricing. Cast iron furniture also found many takers with interesting pieces like cannons and walnut veneer wardrobes being collected for antique value.
The general items auction comprised of a collection of everyday items like a supporting beam, shoe box and the likes. The buyers could also ask questions at the auction to make sure that they know the proper history before placing their bids.
Nowadays no marketing strategy is complete without a proper social media management plan. You will find many people who are paranoid about getting more and more followers. This happens mainly because we often judge a Twitter account based on the number of people following it. This is as shallow as judging a book by its cover. It is nice to have lots of followers but you should not blindly concentrate on increasing your followers. A handful of real followers who are genuinely interested in your tweets is much healthier than having a bloated up fan base.
If you want to make your presence felt on Twitter you have to put in a little more hard work than buying cheap tools that provide followers in bulk.
- Power of Content
It might sound old school but it is the greatest power at your disposal. Create meaningful and interesting tweets than can engage people. You will find more people tweeting back or retweeting. But do not proactively ask people to do so. That will make you look like a despo!
- Sometimes, it’s Okay to Buy FollowersYou can buy twitter followers and though it seems to be unethical to pay someone to follow you there are services that help you in finding the correct target audience for you. They charge you a reasonable price and use their algorithms to give you visibility to people who has the biggest chance of finding you fun.
- Respect Your FollowersRemember that your followers are real people. Take time to answer them, value their feedbacks and retweet their tweets generously. Always thank people for their support and suggestions and be sincere with your compliments.Once you have your band of faithful followers work on gradually increasing the number but never forget to interact with the old ones.
The list for Christmas has become snazzier than ever. Sci-fi inspired gifts and technologically advanced toys have become the latest filling for Santa’s sack. New age inventions like spinthariscope, glow-in-the-dark-uranium marbles and phosphorescent powder are all examples of nuclear powered toys. To implement nuclear science in the manufacture of toys was unthinkable a decade ago. But nowadays parents also like it when science is involved in the toys as that helps the kids to enjoy their lessons.
The latest technology to foray into this territory is 3D printing. 3D printing has caught the fancy of all sorts of people starting from the top designers to NASA scientists. Many 3D printing companies are providing various services customized to meet the consumers’ needs. Printing Service Singapore is one such company that caters to a wide range of services.
It’s no wonder that a 3D pen manufactured to implement 3D printing has how become the most innovative gift idea for this year’s Christmas. 3Doodle is the company which has designed and developed the hand held pens which can be used to develop your own miniature structures.
This hand held pens are manually operated unlike the 3D desktop printers which need to be fed software inputs. The device extrudes molten plastic that solidifies in contact with air. It offers the user the flexibility to use their imagination and build interesting structures.
Some critics have brushed off the 3D pens as a modification of yesteryear glue guns but that is not totally true. Very recently a lady used a 3Doodle to create a cast for her broken hand and it helped her to heal the wounds. These kind of useful innovations have egged up the interest of people and soon other 3D pens like 3D Air Pen, the LIX pen are slated to hit the market. Projecting into the future we can expect the 3D pens to be as easily available in the markets as the desktop printers are today.