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Black Friday Bargains Aren’t As Good As December 1st Sales

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Black Friday Toy Bargains
Source: Shop Advisor

Listen, you’re not the only one who has waited in a line for Black Friday waiting to get that super hot deal for that one item you’ve been dreaming for. I’ve done it for an LED Samsung 55″ TV, appliances, Xbox 360’s and all kinds of other products. Apparently I was led to believe that the absolute best deals you can get are on announced doorbuster days at places like Best Buy, Kohls or Sears Black Friday sales. Well, the secret is out and data and statistics actually show Black Friday bargains are not the best deals you can get.

We found a company called Shop Advisor that helps people shop. Their short sales pitch is they are, “a deferred shopping platform that connects consumers’ initial interest in a product with their eventual purchase.” They have apps on iPhone, Android and more to help you monitor inventory of products you’re in love with and it also keeps watch of the prices and alerts you when big sales on products show up.

According to their data analysis if you’re trying to buy toys and products before Christmas at a great price the best day to shop is December 1st. The specific data shows that 12.6% of all products had a price drop of at least 30% from their original price on December 1st in 2011. Shop Adviser’s specific factoid on this mystery sale date is, “After Thanksgiving, December 1st is the best sale day. The best chance of getting a toy under its original holiday season price was the first day in December, when 58% of all toys were on sale, and only 230% were above their original price.”

Black Friday Bargains Myth
Source: Shop Advisor

In addition to that days from December 11th – 25th had a high volume of 30% off deals as well. Looking at the chart they provide it looks like Black Friday of 2011 was sitting around 8% of all products had price drops of at least 30%. That means this year for Black Friday 2012 bargains you’re going to find the same kind of situation. We’ve provided a view of this highly detailed chart so you can scope out the best days to buy your heavily discounted toys, appliances and products. The specific statement from Shop Advisor’s PDF pricing sheet says about this period, “Risk-tolerant bargain hunters should wait until the final 14 days before Christmas. If you are willing to wait, or procrastinate, you can count on steep discount in the two weeks before December 25. Last year, every day, starting December 11, at least one in ten toys was available for 30% or more under their original holiday prices. But, delaying can also burn you: almost as many toys saw increases of 30% or more.”

Another myth that I’ve always heard about getting heavily discounted prices on products was to rush out the day after Christmas to get those bargains from retailers that need to sell products they have in stock from their Holiday stock. Well, it seems that the big price plunge that happens to products on shelves that go on clearance or heavy discounts actually happens on December 29th. Obviously at this point stores realize those Tickle Me Elmo’s that are still on the shelves need to be moved out the door to put the stores books in the black.

Our final warning to you if you’re planning on making it out to stores because you saw the Wal-Mart Black Friday Ad, Target Black Friday commercial or know that you want that awesome LED TV from Best Buy’s Black Friday sale is that if you were Santa, you’d be in big trouble. Shop Advisor put it really well when they analyzed 252 toys that Santa could have bought. Their statement about Santa’s predicament was as follows, “Black Friday was among the worst sale days of the 2011 shopping season. In the 54 days from November 1st through December 24th, the day with the fewest products on sale was Black Friday, November 25th, 2011. If Santa had purchased all 252 for his bag on Black Friday, he would have saved $515 compared to the original holiday season prices; but there were 8 other days when he could have saved more than $1,000.” Take it from Santa, Black Friday sales are not all that they are cracked up to be. Good luck this year and may you find the best bargains on store shelves.

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The Best Deals of Black Friday 2012

Black Friday 2012 Fights At Wal Mart Over Phones

Black Friday – Out of Control?

“To the people who pitched tents earlier this week on sidewalks in front of Best Buy stores everywhere: You represent what’s wrong with America.

Thanksgiving was once the perfect holiday. Delectable food. No gift-giving or receiving. Football and old movies on TV. Nothing much to do except enjoy friends and family and reflect on life’s blessings.

Thanks for ruining this blissful day, Best Buy Campers.

How many dinners will be cut short or canceled because employees and herds of shoppers are summoned to the big boxes this evening? Best Buy will open at midnight. Target is opening its doors at 9 p.m. Not to be outdone, Walmart and Sears are opening at 8 p.m.”*

Steve Oh (COO of The Young Turks) and Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show) discuss Black Friday and the tradition it has become. Is it a disgusting show of consumerism? Is it good for the economy? Have you been to a Black Friday sale? John Iadarola (TYT University) and Kim Horcher (Geek Speak) chime in on personal experiences.

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Microsoft Bets $1 Billion On OpenAI’s Ambition To Harness The Human Brain In Tech

Microsoft is getting in bed with OpenAI, and the price tag is worth $1 billion.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. on July 15, 2019. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Global market leader for computers and technology, Microsoft, bets $1 billion on OpenAI, Elon Musk’s, and Sam Altman’s brainchild that aims to establish a research laboratory focusing on developing a technology that would imitate and mimic human brain function.

OpenAI was conceived by the two billionaires three years ago, and since then, it has been gaining support from the tech community for its ambitious projects. According to a press release from Microsoft, the goal of the partnership is to “accelerate breakthroughs in AI and power OpenAI’s efforts to create artificial general intelligence (AGI).”

Furthermore, Microsoft aims to extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems, and they believe that the partnership will usher such advancement. The resulting enhancement of Azure’s capabilities will help their developers in creating and designing new generations of Artificially Intelligent applications.

Microsoft said that the partnership will see both Microsoft and OpenAI working hand-in-hand to build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies and that Azure will become OpenAI’s “preferred partner” to commercially distribute its AI applications.

“OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence,” reads the press release.

“The companies will focus on building a computational platform in Azure of unprecedented scale, which will train and run increasingly advanced AI models, include hardware technologies that build on Microsoft’s supercomputing technology and adhere to the two companies’ shared principles on ethics and trust. This will create the foundation for advancements in AI to be implemented in a safe, secure, and trustworthy way and is a critical reason the companies chose to partner together.”

It is interesting to note that the partnership seems to imply that there will be an exclusive relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft amidst Musk’s intention for his company to“freely collaborate” among other AI researchers and to make his works and patents available to others.

Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch said that amidst this exciting development in OpenAI’s strategy, there are still several caveats. “OpenAI Inc. the non-profit organization, and its for-profit corporate subsidiary OpenAI LP, and that its current charter includes a provision that it may reduce the public publishing of its work as it moves forward out of “safety and security concerns,” he wrote.

The continuous development of technology and the effort of humankind to harness the power of human brains have brought upon generations of applications and have led to constant AI breakthroughs in areas such as vision, speech, language processing, translation, robotic control, and even gaming. And Microsoft said that artificial intelligence has since been solving world problems because “the hardest problems facing the world today will require generalization and deep mastery of multiple AI technologies.”

It is, according to Microsoft’s press release, the goal of both OpenAI and the tech giant to solve multidisciplinary problems that the world is facing right now such as climate change, more personalized healthcare, and education through accelerated advancement in AI research.

“AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI — while always keeping AI safety front and center — so everyone can benefit.”

Similarly, OpenAI believes that its partnership with Microsoft has the potential of reshaping the world. “The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI.

“Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI. We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”

At its launch, OpenAI noted that it had $1 billion committed from Musk, Altman and co-founder and CTO Greg Brockman, as well as Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services, Infosys and YC Research, though it did not anticipate spending that much in the ensuing few years.

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There’s A Flame-Throwing Drone You Can Buy, And It’s Completely Legal

The flame-throwing device can actually be used for industrial purposes other than burning people to the ground

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Throwflame

An American company from Ohio called Throwflame is selling a drone attachment that allows users to spew fire in the air; it may not be the safest idea, but it can serve a practical purpose.

The flame thrower attachment is called TF-19 Wasp and can easily sound like a nightmare waiting to happen. The TF-19 Wasp gets its name from nature’s very own venom-stinging insect that could inflict pain with a single poke.

Throwflame sees that their latest product responds to a growing market need and can serve as an industrial solution in many applicable ways other than the morbid idea of burning people randomly—still a possibility.

According to an interview with Quinn Whitehead, Throwflame’s founder, by Gizmodo, people can purchase the attachment for recreation, agricultural use, and lighting stuff with limited access.

Throwflame calls TF-19 Wasp a “game-changer for clearing vital infrastructure, igniting remote vegetation, and eliminating pests.” But the flying fire dispensers are also useful for “nest elimination” and to “clear debris from power lines” with the convenience and safety of “remote ignition of aerial and ground targets.”

The company even said that the drone attachment could be used in domestic settings such as lighting barbecues to clearing the garden of weeds or cats.

More significantly, people have been attaching flamethrowers to drones for years now, and power companies do use them to clear trash and debris off of high voltage wires. It’s safer and more efficient than sending a human up in a cherry picker to pull off the garbage, Gizmodo reports.

“It’s definitely a unique concept,” Whitehead says in an interview with Gizmodo. “But any new technology is a little bit scary at first. You think back to when drones first got commercialized and popularized—they were cheap enough for the average person to buy—there was a lot of concern about privacy issues and people flying them all over the place, and swarms of drones blocking out the sun. But in hindsight, it’s kind of an overreaction I think.”

Comparatively, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company started the idea of recreational flame throwers with its Not A Flamethrower, a handheld fire-spitting gun, that gained popularity among younger consumers and has made an appearance in popular YouTube channels such as David Dobrik’s and Jeffree Star.

According to Musk, all of the 20,000 Not A Flamethrower guns offered were sold out. Meaning, there are 20,000 people with flamethrowers in their homes but, so far, we haven’t heard anyone use it to harm others intentionally.

Meanwhile, Throwflame said that only half of its customers pick up their products for recreational purposes, while the other half use them for agricultural work or lighting stuff where access is limited by foot or vehicle.

Throwflame even assured customers that their product is federally legal and is not considered a weapon and users are still required to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in addition to local ordinances.

The company’s FAQ says that “Flamethrowers are legal and unregulated in most counties. Chances are, we can ship to you.”

As of the moment, the four-pound TF-19 Wasp flamethrower drone attachment is available for purchase to the general public for $1,500. According to the company, the device can easily hold up to a gallon of tank fuel that should last users 100 seconds of firing time with a 25-foot (7.62m) range.

It burns through a mixture of petrol and diesel, although the company also offers napalm thickener – one scoop per gallon of 50:50 petrol-diesel mixture.

The company also offers a napalm-compatible standalone flamethrower called XL18 for more intense tasks. It provides a 100-foot (30m) range and can carry up to 3.3 gallons (12.5 liters) in its tank but will come at a higher price tag amounting to $3,000.

Depending on the drone used, users can have a visual input on their remote controls for farther distances and other hard-to-reach locations.

Furthermore, the device can convert your existing drones into a flame thrower menace or purchase the company’s recommended drone, which is a DJI S1000, which the basic kit costs another $1,500 but can go as high as $5000 for a full kit.

Throwflame says it’ll soon begin selling fully-assembled drones for $1,000 to $10,000, depending on what customers are looking for.

Orders placed on Throwflame’s website will ship in 2-4 weeks. The company will also build customized drone packages but will take an extra 1-2 weeks to accommodate the customization for user requirements.

“The WASP will be available for purchase on July 18, which is the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Fire of Rome under Emperor Nero in [the year] 64,” Whitehead said.

And if you act fast, Throwflame’s throwing in a free shirt for the first few purchases.

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Netflix Investing In Originals Amidst Second-Quarter Loss

Netflix originals are starting to pay off for the streaming giant despite the subscriber loss in the past quarter.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Netflix reported a tremendous loss in its subscriber growth based on the latest second-quarter report of the year, which price increase, the brewing streaming wars, and lulling content all contributed to the streaming company’s plummet. However, Netflix can’t do anything about the first two problems; hence, it’s putting more money in its original content instead.

According to the quarterly report, Netflix lost 130,000 subscribers from the United States—a first for the streaming platform since 2011. Furthermore, only 2.7 million paying customers globally were added in the second quarter, which is not a small number but falls way behind the projected 5 million users.

Netflix stocks dropped by more than 10 percent before the market closed on the day the report came out—equating to around a $17 billion loss from its market value, analysts say.

Notably, the subscriber count loss can mainly be attributed to the price increase the streaming giant implement — an increase from $1 to $2 — which was announced at the start of the year that went into effect a few months after.

The platform is also looking at an imminently decreasing range of content that it can offer to its loyal subscribers, as the streaming wars begin to bleed Netflix dry and consequently, its subscribers in the process.

Specifically, the streaming giant is facing a large problem in its home country due to the looming oversaturation of streaming sites that will soon be available for all US citizens.

WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple are all launching their own streaming services within the next few years, and they’re bringing their original content with them and taking them out of Netflix.

In recent reports, Netflix will soon be losing several heavily watched licensed series including fan favorites, and most watch TV series Friends and The Office to competitors WarnerMedia and NBC Universal respectively.

In perspective, Disney+ will be involving Hulu and ESPN in its list of available services on top of successful production houses such as Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel for the general price of only $6.99 a month. Netflix’s basic plan is currently at $9.

Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is also launching HBO Max that will certainly feature pop culture icons such as Game of Thrones.

If more than anything, both products could easily persuade US customers in subscribing to their service and away from Netflix.

As of the moment, Netflix has over 60 million paying subscribers in the United States, and the company is confident that it can get that number climb up to 90 million.

However, with the streaming wars looming, Netflix is not taking any chances and are already looking at solutions. Primarily, the streaming giant is looking to get more original content on its platform.

Now, there are permanent studio sets that have been purchased for Netflix to produce films and TV shows faster. It is also putting lots of money behind US shows and movies, signing hundred-million-dollar deals with high-profile showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.

Based on recent reports, the effort is paying off as Netflix continues to break records with its original movies and TV shows. One, in particular, was the recently released Murder Mystery movie that featured the tandem reunion of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. According to Netflix, who seldom releases viewership statistics, it grossed over 73 million views from household accounts worldwide — more than Netflix’s entire US base.

Stranger Things 3, a Netflix original series that launched in Q3, attracted 26.4 million unique viewers in the first four days of its release in the United States. It was “the most-watched Netflix original series [that] we’ve ever analyzed,” according to Nielsen data.

There’s also more in store this quarter with one of its biggest shows, Orange Is the New Black returns for its final season with Season 7. Variety said that the all-women prison drama series have at least accumulated a massive 105 million users that have watched an episode of the show.

Related: Netflix Originals Is Going Asian

Netflix is also looking to expanding its demographic outside the US and into other markets like Asia and Europe. Thus, it plans to continue ramping production of more original content to cater to these new customers.

Three shows in particular: How to Sell Drugs Online (Germany), The Rain (Denmark), and Quicksand (Sweden) have all found big audiences outside of their native region.

Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr., the chief content officer for Netflix, said that each show has garnered around 12 to 15 million global viewers and that “they’ve been deeply relevant in the home country, and travel the region very, very well.”

In its letter to shareholders on Wednesday, Netflix said that while its US paid memberships were “essentially flat,” the company expects it to “return to more typical growth” in the third quarter. It expects to add another 7 million subscribers in Q3.

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