Joining me on PowerTalk today to discuss the e-reader market, it’s new line of Android tablets that are designed with readers in mind as well as how it works with small book retailers and more is Mike Serbinis, the CEO and founder of Kobo.
If your like me, your an avid reader. Books, newspapers, magazines and all sorts of reports be it from companies like Gallup or the Congressional Budget Office. As the old say goes reading is fundamental.
Much like many other industries, the publishing industry has been rocked by technology -- how we consume information has changed and that means how people read has changed as well. Print continues to cede ground to digital publications that can be read on e-readers, tablets, smartphones and even on your computing desktop. We’ve seen magazines, like Newsweek, shift from print to only digital and newspapers such as The New York Times (NYT) try to figure out a pay-wall solution for its content. We’ve seen once prominent bookstore chains go out of business or in the case of Barnes & Noble (BKS) shrink its footprint. 
Now when most people think of reading digitally, they tend to think of either the Apple (AAPL) iPad or Amazon.com’s (AZMN) Kindle e-reader and Fire tablet. While those are viable solutions there is another out there.
The Wall Street Journal named the Kobo  Aura HD the “best e-Reader” beating out Amazon’s Kindle and the Nook from Barnes & Noble. I have to say I have been trying out the Kobo Aura and it’s great and it’s online bookstore has 4 million books to choose from as well as newspapers, magazines and more. 
Mike shares a number of insights to where all of this is headed and he reviews some of the strategic moves that Kobo is making to be ahead of the curve. 
Direct download: 09-24-13_KOBOPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:49pm EST

When most people think of hanging out with family and friends it tends to involve one of my favorite subjects -- food. According to The Bureau of Economic Analysis, on average the U.S. consumer spends $6,129 or 9.81% of their paychecks on food each year. That makes the food industry, which includes eating at home and eating out, a big big business.

Joining me to talk about the success as well as the challenges that Domino’s Pizza (DPZ)  faces is Lynn Liddle, Executive Vice President, Communications, Legislative Affairs and Investor Relations at Domino’s. Lynn’s been with the company since 2002 and has seen the good, the bad and the ugly along the way.

Like any business, the food industry has its ups and downs -- new products and better service to tighter consumer spending and cut throat competition to rising input costs and  potential regulations. Despite those and other challenges, people need to eat, which means balancing demand with consumer tastes that sometimes shift based on the diet trend du jour. 

With $1.6-$1.7 billion in annual revenues and more than 9,700 company owned and franchised locations, it’s a player in pizza and more. Lynn and I talk about all of that as well as break down the company’s key cost items and discuss some potential regulation that is winding its way through Washington, D.C. that could take a bite out of small businesses. You’ll even learn what the number one pizza toppings are in Japan and India.  Here’s a hint, they aren’t what you think they might be.

Direct download: 09-16-13_DOMINOSPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52am EST

Joining me on PowerTalk to peel the onion on a number of issues that we face in our broadband centric lives is former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell. He recently left the FCC after 7 years, and while his is not a household name Broadcasting & Cable magazine said he “gained a reputation of a statesmanlike conservative who can find common ground with his opposition without compromising his principles.” He was kind enough to spend some time with me as he heads to Hudson Institute’s Center for Economics of the Internet as a visiting fellow.

If your the average American, I’m sure you enjoy your cell phone, smartphone, high speed internet, cable programming and so on. In fact, you probably semi-addicted to it. What you probably don’t enjoy is stroking that ever increasing check each month when you pay your bill to AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or some other service provider. 

While we tend to think of the device we are using -- smartphone or set top box --  and the network that enables it, there’s far more going on behind the scenes not only at those companies, but in Washington, D.C. 

In this edition of PowerTalk, Robert McDowell and I discuss issues facing broadcasters, such as Aereo; the impact of rising smartphone competition, particularly from Huawei; the future of wireless - for those who think the smartphone and tablets are it you have a rude awakening coming. We also talk about some of the pain points facing the industry, including the spectrum shortage, which is interesting considering the government is sitting on a ton of it. 

Direct download: 09-09-13_FCCPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:investing, economics,technology, interview -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

Joining me this week on PowerTalk is Lauren Fifield, Senior Health Policy Advisor at Practice Fusion. Practice Fusion is one of the fastest growing electronic health record community in the US. Founded in 2005, the company has 150,000 physicians and practice users using Practice Fusion’s EHR across all 50 states. At Practice Fusion, Lauren manages government relationships and monitors an ever-changing landscape of legislation, regulation, and health industry antics. 

Many citizens and business owners are concerned over the increasing costs associated with the Affordable Care Act -- better known as Obamacare. A study from the the nonpartisan Society of Actuaries estimates that because of higher risk pools, insurance costs will rise 32% on average nationwide within three years. Even Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters that, “Some people purchasing new insurance policies for themselves this fall could see premiums rise because of requirements in the health care law.”

In talking with Lauren, it became clear that there is another shift in Obamacare worth noting. More specifically, the carrot that was a part of the High Tech Act passed in 2009 that incentivizes doctors to move to electronic medial records (EMR) becomes a stick at the end of 2014. And by stick I mean that docs will be see their medicare and medicaid payments penalized until such EMR systems are enacted.

Regulatory requirements and associated deadlines make for great catalysts when it comes to investing. I’ve seen this time and time again be it with new truck engine emissions standards or other new mandates in heavy trucks and other equipment. The deadline tends not to be some line in the sand that gets redrawn several times a la the famous Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam cartoon. Instead its a firm line that sparks strong demand ahead of that compliance deadline, and that is good news for a particular set of companies. 

Direct download: 09-02-13_PRACTICEFUSIONPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:34am EST