The Summer We Stopped Buying SUVs

We all knew surging gasoline prices would hurt auto sales. But it’s happening a lot faster than many had guessed.

Automakers are reporting their June sales figures today, and if red is your favorite color you may like what you see. Ford’s sales were down 28 percent from a year ago, and GM’s were off by 19 percent. The big surprise was Toyota, down 21 percent. It seems Toyota’s overall sales were less dependent on its highly coveted Prius cars than on its trucks.

Since February, gas has risen from $3 a gallon on average to more than $4, where it has lingered for much of June. So a lot of the hottest, low-mileage models of recent years are baking in the sun on car lots, while hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars are in hot demand.

The two manufacturers who saw their sales increase, Honda and Volkswagen, are the same passenger-car makers that have seen their market share dwindle in the age of the SUV. Both saw one-percent gains.
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Watercooler Clips: The Great Office War

Need a quick break from the grind? WWD sister site NewTeeVee Station brings you Watercooler Clips, a selection from our collection of what’s good, interesting and/or of note in the online video world — whatever the web is talking about at the virtual watercooler.

Today, it’s a look at the harsh realities of office politics — what happens when the tension between IT and sales departments explodes into an all-out battle? Runaway Box’s The Great Office War brings that conflict to life. With Nerf guns.

And if you’ve got more procrastinating left in you, come by and check out what else we’re watching at the Station!

The “ultra” list of undefined tech definitions

Just received a few notes from luvable ol’ Mike Cane in the Inbox; looks like I’ll need to adjust my spam filters again. (I kid, Mike!). He was asking how a 13-inch notebook could be considered an ultra-portable since many sites are kicking the Mac ultra-portable or ultra-compact rumor around with that size estimate. Clearly this is a case where size does matter: I’ve used a 12.1-inch slate Tablet PC that’s relatively thin, but if I called it an “ultra-portable”, I’d have to turn in my UMPC membership card.And what’s with everyone throwing that “ultra” term around anyway? The word is usually followed by a term that’s already defined. It’s as if you could suddenly become “ultra-pregnant” or I suddenly became “ultra-talented”. Women are either pregnant or not; likewise I’m talented or not. Hmm… probably shouldn’t have brought that up in public. What an ultra-stupid move.Anyway, these thoughts made me turn to a number of tech terms being bandied around these days. Here’s a few that get kicked around six ways ’til Sunday because they’re not clearly defined:

  • Open networks – Verizon plans one, AT&T says all of a sudden they have one. Who’s right? Besides, you’re either open or closed…
  • MIDs or Mobile Internet Devices – aside from desktops, aren’t most laptops and phones MIDs these days?
  • Sub-notebook – is this a notebook that can be submerged in water for great lengths of time? Smaller than a breadbox but larger than smartphone? Speaking of which…
  • Smartphone – are all other phones “dumb” by comparison? Must a phone work for the enterprise to be “smart”?
  • UMPC – our perennial fave; what if it’s just “mobile” and not “ultra-mobile”? I say: if it can teleport itself to where I need it to be, it’s “ultra-mobile”. 😉

Yes, the list is just an ultra-poor attempt at humor, but one aspect isn’t funny: we still have many tech terms that mean different things to different folks and that’s ultra-helping nobody.

Numbers You Should Know: Beyond TV; YouTube Uploads; 5,000 ?s for GOP

We often plunge into research reports to pluck out everything from the boldest to the most most cautious estimates about the past, present, and future of online video. But sometimes numbers don’t come all nicely packaged and illustrated. Here’s some interesting stats we found packaged in context in articles from around the web today.
Silicon Alley Insider attended a power breakfast on the topic “Economics of the New Television Marketplace” and had some choice notes. Featured attendees were Google’s president of advertising Tim Armstrong, Digitas EVP and global media director Carl Fremont, NBC U chief digital officer George Kliavkoff, and Turner Entertainment president of ad sales and sports, David Levy.

Myers: “[W]ithin four years 40% of all video consumption [will] occur outside of the television set. That’s according to a poll of nearly 300 media execs by Myers and video tracking firm Teletrax.” (Silicon Alley Insider)
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“Year of the Online Game” – O Rly?

Google 2007Google is looking to get into games, according to CNN Money, and before this week is out, should be announcing a deal to buy Adscape Media Inc., and through them, work with publishers to feed ads through the Internet into their online games. (Presumably, the elevator pitch would be, “AdSense meets Xbox Live.”) This news, along with other ads-in-games news, comes just as a related question is gaining some currency through the blogosphere. “2005 was the year of the social network,” Jason Lee Miller of WebProNews recently argued, “In 2006, online video was the chief cause of acquisition hysteria. Will 2007 be the year of the online gaming site?”
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Nintendo Exchanges Broken Wii Straps, DS Power Supplies

On Friday, Nintendo started a drive to replace broken and faulty wrist straps for their new console, the Wii. This replacement plan was prompted by multiple reports of damaged home equipment and personal injuries caused by over-exuberant players. The manufacturing fault in the straps has caused them to break and make the controllers fly out of players’ hands and into the faces of family and friends… if they’re lucky. Otherwise, the “Wiimote” has been known to damage expensive home theater equipment and other household items. Read More about Nintendo Exchanges Broken Wii Straps, DS Power Supplies

Sycamore stuck in a Rut : Deutsche Bank has lowered revenue estimates for Sycamore Networks, saying the company’s story “remains stuck in a rut associated with anemic spending on specialized optical products.” Deutsche Bank said, “Visibility remains elusive and revenues from its very limited customer base are often lumpy, preventing management once more from issuing top-line guidance.