Trend Tracker Today
(A Monthly Trends & Forecasting Report)
To maintain our statewide reputation as nimble, resilient and quick-response leaders.
To seek and develop new career opportunities for all students.
To analyze the implications and potential of future-thinking.
As the premier provider of Career Technical Education in California, we must remain
vigilant in watching the markets, scanning the horizon and taking action on new
opportunities as revealed in economic and cultural trends.
In This Issue:
Eight Products The Facebook Generation Will Not Buy
Coolest Inventions Coming In 2012
Fighting Crime With Jewelry
Branding’s Big Guns
Inheriting The Start-Up Gene
The 10 Fastest Dying Industries in America
For-Profit Schools Try to Talk a Better Game
The World as R+D Lab
Solar Power by Night
The Hottest Tech of 2015 and Beyond
EIGHT PRODUCTS THE FACEBOOK GENERATION WILL NOT BUY (Sectors: Multiple
Consumer tastes are changing at a greater rate than ever before. Not surprisingly, the
purchasing habits of the youngest generation present the most dramatic shifts – a
reflection of what they find important. 24/7 Wall St. has identified eight popular products
that the “Facebook generation” is not buying.
Generation Y, generally defined as those born between 1980 and 1999, have lost
interest in many of the services and products their parents found important.
What young adults care about has shifted. A recent study by Gartner research revealed
that, if forced to choose, 46% of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the United States would
choose access to the Internet over access to a car.
24/7 Wall St. has identified eight of the country’s most popular products that are losing
favor, either solely among young adults or at a significantly higher rate among that
group. To demonstrate these products’ waning popularity, 24/7 reviewed data from a
number of major research firms and government agencies. We looked at products in
every major sector, including transportation, digital electronics, food, beverages and
other miscellaneous consumer goods.
In 2010, at the launch of Facebook’s then-new messaging service, Mark Zuckerberg
predicted the decline of electronic mail, stating that “Email is too slow…email is too
formal.” Time is proving Zuckerberg right. From December 2009 to December
2010, time spent using email by the 12- to 17-years-old age group dropped a
tremendous 59%. In comparison, time spent using email by people 55 to 64-years-
old has increased 22%, and it has increased 28% among those 65 years and older.
Light beer has become to the current generation of youth what regular beer was just
a few decades ago. In 1990, more Budweiser was sold than the top three light
beers combined. Twenty years later, Budweiser has taken a backseat to Bud Light,
which sold as much as the top four regular beers combined. The country has taken
a major generational shift in favor of light beers, which now account for four of the
five most popular beers sold domestically.
While readership rates for print newspapers are falling across the board, the
country’s younger generation has abandoned the medium the most. As of 2010,
only 7% of 18- to 24-year olds reported having read a print newspaper the day
before, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. This is
the first time that figure has reached single digits. This age group also has among
the highest rates of people reportedly receiving news through social networking sites
As recently as 1998, 64.4% of potential drivers ages 19 and younger had drivers
licenses, according to the Federal Highway Administration. As of 2008, that amount
had dropped to 46.3%. Additionally, 46% of drivers aged 18 to 24 report that they
would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to research firm Gartner.
People are also waiting longer to get their licenses. According to the University of
Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, in 1983 one-third of all licensed drivers
in U.S. were under 30. Today, only 22% of drivers are under 30. Companies such
as General Motors (NYSE: GM) have reached out to more youth-oriented
advertising companies, such as MTV Scratch, to address this widening gap in their
5. Landline phones
Landline phones are losing popularity among Generation Y, who are becoming
increasingly content with only having wireless phones. According to a report from
the National Center for Health Statistics, 51.3% of Americans aged 25 to 29 lived in
households with only wireless phones in the first six months of 2010.
Smoking rates among young people have historically exceeded those of the general
population. Now that group is dropping the habit quicker than anyone. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the share of people 18 to 24 years
of age who were current cigarette smokers decreased by 17.6% from 2005 to 2010
– the largest decrease among any age group. The share among 45- to 64-year-olds
dropped only 3.6%. The amount of Americans 65 and older who smoke actually
7. Desktop computers
Millennials are the only generational group to be more likely to own a laptop
computer than a desktop. According to data from Pew Research Center, 70% own a
laptop, while 57% own a desktop. By contrast, 64% of those aged 57-65 own a
desktop, while only 43% own a laptop.
Adults aged 18 to 24 watch less traditional television than any other age group in the
country, according to Nielsen’s most recent Cross Platform Report. That group, on
average, watches just under 24 hours per week. The national average is
approximately 32.5 hours. One of the leading reasons for this difference is
Generation Y’s relationship with the Internet. According to a report published in April
2010 by electronics review/research company Retrevo, 23% of those under 25
watch “most” of their television online, compared to 8% for everyone.
–Charles B. Stockdale and Michael B. Santer, 24/7 Wall St., April 19, 2012.
COOLEST INVENTIONS COMING IN 2012 (Sectors: Arts, Media and Entertainment Technology;
Engineering and Design; Information Technology; Manufacturing and Product Development; Marketing, Sales and
These five creations look to be some of this year’s most transformative tech products
“White Spaces” Wi-Fi
Hidden between individual television channels is a small but valuable collection of
airwaves that will allow for a kind of “super Wi-Fi” network.
The Federal Communications Commission recently opened up the spectrum that sits
between television channels numbered 1 through 51. Wireless communications in
those “white spaces” have been permitted since Jan. 26 in Wilmington, N.C., the FCC’s
designated testbed location. After the bugs are worked out, the spaces will be opened
up nationally in the coming months.
The FCC designated the white spaces as “unlicensed” band, meaning anyone can
broadcast in it for free. It’s a primo band that sits lower than today’s Wi-Fi, allowing
signals to travel over significantly longer distances and through buildings and walls.
It’ll take time for all of the necessary infrastructure – including new chipsets for
smartphones and other devices – to roll out, but FCC expects the expansion to lead to
innovative new kinds of wireless networks, including connected highways, schools,
parks and towns. Wireless carriers scrounging for more spectrum could also begin to
broadcast Wi-Fi to customer-dense areas to reduce stress on their 3G and 4G
--David Goldman, CNN/Money/Tech, April 2012
Microsoft Windows 8
We know what you’re going to say, but trust us: Windows 8 is not only cool, it’s
potentially a game-changer.
Windows 8 has a completely new visual interface that’s unlike anything you’ve seen on
a PC before. It’s optimized for touch screens on mobile devices like tablets, but it will
also work for those with a traditional mouse and keyboard setup.
The result is a computer that operates as a hybrid, with all the functions of a standard
PC operating system but the user experience of a tablet. Apple says we’re already
living in the “post-PC world.” Windows 8 is a sign that Microsoft agrees – and if it has
its way, tablets and PCs may soon be indistinguishable.
--David Goldman, CNN/Money/Tech, April 2012
Lytro’s Light-Field Camera
Ever snapped a picture in a hurry, looked back and realized you forgot to focus? The
much-hyped Lytro has the solution, with a light-field camera that lets you adjust a
picture after it’s been snapped.
Lytro CEO Ren Ng worked for six years to commercialize the technology, which he
pioneered as part of his Ph.D. research at Stanford University. It all came to fruition
earlier this month, when Lytro shipped its first batch of cameras to consumers. It comes
in two models: a $399 8GB camera that takes 350 pictures, or a 16GB model for $499
that holds 750 pictures.
Once you see it and start playing with these pictures, you don’t want to go back to a 2-D
--Laurie Segall, CNN/Money/Tech, April 2012
Google’s Virtual Reality Goggles
Augmented reality may end up being one of the hottest fashion accessories of 2012.
Google is secretly working on Android-powered virtual reality glasses that it plans to
begin selling by the end of the year, according to reports in the New York Times and the
blog 9 to 5 Google.
Details are scant about the rumored glasses, but the basic idea is to beam contextually
relevant information straight to your eyeballs. Like augmented reality apps, the glasses
could deliver an added layer of information about, say, a landmark you’re looking at, or
offer up a discount to a restaurant that catches your gaze.
“If facial recognition software becomes accurate enough, the glasses could remind a
wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a
party,” the New York Times’ Nick Bilton theorizes. “They might also be used for virtual
reality games that use the real world as the playground.” Google representative
declined to comment.
--Laurie Segall, CNN/Money/Tech, April 2012
The Next iGizmo
Let’s face it, the most talked-about tech product (or products) this year will probably
come from Apple.
The company is widely rumored to be prepping a television for release in 2012 that will
run its Apple TV software. Though Apple TV set-top box sales haven’t been impressive,
the late Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “finally cracked” the
code for success. Jobs said that the device Apple is creating will have a simple user
interface and will sync easily with other devices in the home.
Of course, Apple TV won’t be the only device Apple launches this year. The company’s
just-released new iPad is already setting sales records, and the iPhone will most likely
be updated in the late summer or early fall.
Last year’s iPhone announcement was a disappointment to those expecting a major
overhaul. The hardware went almost unchanged, and the real highlight was a new
software creation: Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant.
Some people believe Apple had a more significantly overhauled iPhone in the works
that just wasn’t quite ready to launch last fall. It could make an appearance this year.
--David Goldman, CNN/Money/Tech, April 2012
FIGHTING CRIME WITH JEWELY (Fashion and Interior Design; Manufacturing and Product
Development; Marketing Sales and Service)
A company helps take guns off the street.
When Jessica Mindich launched Jewelry for a Cause five years ago, she never
imagined she would end up working with guns. Her Greenwich, Connecticut-based
company designs accessories and donates 20 percent of sales to non-profit
organizations, including DoSomething.org and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Mindich’s foray into firearms started in December. She was attending a conference in
San Diego and met Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. In one of the
sessions, Booker spoke about the success of his administration’s gun buyback
program. Residents were paid cash to turn over weapons, no questions asked.
Unfortunately, the initiative lacked funding. Another problem, said Booker, was figuring
out what to do with the stockpile of hundreds of weapons.
Mindich approached Booker after the session. “I’ll take your guns,” she told him.
Mindich offered to use the metal to make a jewelry collection, the sales of which would
help fund the buyback program. Two weeks later, Mindich met with Newark’s police
director and a member of the department’s ballistics lab. The guns were sorted,
cataloged, and fed into an industrial shredder so they could be delivered to Mindich for
The collection, called Caliber, is set to launch this summer. The pieces, priced at $150
to $5,000 each, will be available on Mindich’s site, JewelryforaCause.net. By
transforming deadly weapons into beautiful baubles, Mindich aims to reflect the
resilience of the place once deemed the most dangerous in the U.S. “I hope this gives
people the opportunity to have something on their arm, wrist, finger, or neck as a
symbol of a city that can change its course,” she says.
–Nicole Gull, INC. Magazine, May, 2012
BRANDING’S BIG GUNS (Cross-Sectors)
Dreaming of the day your business becomes a household name? Follow the examples
of the 10 most trusted U.S. brands.
There is no better way to dissect the how-to of branding than to dig deep into the
companies everybody knows and trusts. To accomplish this, Entrepreneur teamed with
The Values Institute at DGWB, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based think tank that focuses on
brand relationships, on a consumer survey that explored the reasons some brands
manage to stay on top.
What became clear: Though they may not have the biggest sales or market share in
their categories, today’s most trustworthy brands have created relationships with
consumers through experiences that trigger a visceral response.
“We’re seeing more of an emphasis on brands building emotional relationships with
consumers because it’s powerful and it works,” says branding consultant Jim Stengel,
former global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble and author of Grow: How Ideals
Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies. “When you do it, you
have a much stronger affinity, a much stronger business, much stronger growth and
much stronger results.
“When we looked at brands (at P&G) that had a very, very strong emotional benefit vs.
our competition,” Stengel adds, “our shares were much, much higher. And the margin
of growth vs. our competitor was much higher than those that had just a functional
Here, a look at the tactics used by America’s most trustworthy brands to connect with
consumers—and ways you can put them to work for your business.
1. Get Personal: Amazon
The online retailer of, well, just about everything, ran away with the list, posting the
highest scores not just in overall brand trust but in every individual trust value.
That’s no surprise to Brad VanAuken, chief brand strategist for The Blake Project
consultancy. He says Amazon’s exceptional product accessibility, functionality and
customer experience all converge to create a strong brand that consumers trust.
“With millions of products, 24/7 access, superior search and browse technology,
user reviews and many other sources of in-depth product information, Amazon.com
offers a superior purchase experience,” VanAuken says.
He adds that the brand—with its low prices and free shipping on orders over a
minimum total—is seen as offering value, while its one-click ordering and quick-
shipping options help shoppers save time. Consumers also rely on Amazon to have
all the products they’re looking for; thanks to partnerships with other selling channels
such as Partner Count merchandise.
While such a vast array of offerings could be perceived as impersonal, VanAuken
says Amazon does an exemplary job of fostering relationships with consumers by
helping them make decisions through recommendations of items based on past
purchases, user reviews and ratings and suggested complementary purchases.
Consumers also have many options for forging a personal bond with the brand,
including user profiles, reviews and ratings, wish lists and Listmania lists for
recommending favorite products.
2. Sell Happiness: Coca-Cola
Ice-cold Sunshine. The Pause That Refreshes. Life Tastes Good. Since its
inception, the promise of the world’s largest beverage-maker has been to delight
consumers. “Everything they do is inspired by this idea of, How do we promote,
develop and create happiness?”
3. Live Up To Your Promise: FEDEX
With a straightforward passion for the task at hand, FedEx has created a strong
corporate identity. Not surprisingly, the company received its strongest ratings in
ability, specifically for being able to achieve what it promises and for the efficiency of
4. Keep It Cool (And Fun): Apple
What other company has the public and the press waiting breathlessly for each new
product release? The bottom line is whatever that new Apple product is, consumers
trust that it will be smart and sleek and that it will improve the way they
communicate, work or spend their leisure time. What’s more, they’ll enjoy the
experience of making the purchase.
5. Design an Experience: Target
It’s easy to forget that Target is a discount store. With its sleek, stylish ad
campaigns and collaborations with high-end designers who create limited-edition
merchandise that sends fashionistas into a frenzy, Target’s public face often belies
its mass-merchant status.
6. Stay Consistent: Ford
In an era when the only thing that seems certain is change, Ford’s consistent
branding has established the company as a beacon of reliability.
7. Can-Do Attitude: Nike
On its website, Nike declares its mission to “bring inspiration and innovation to every
athlete in the world,” adding, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
It’s that aspirational message and mainstream appeal that connects the athletic
apparel company to consumers worldwide.
8. Forge Connections: Starbucks
After suffering a slump a few years back, the world’s leading specialty coffee retailer
has perked up its business and its brand by getting back to its original promise of
bringing people together. “Starbucks has gotten much more in touch with the reason
they’re here, and that’s to help create connections.”
9. Serve Up The Quirky: Southwest Airlines
This low-cost carrier has consistently set its own route in the airline industry, creating
a distinct personality through everything from open passenger seating to flight
attendants who sing the safety demonstrations.
10. Focus On The Customer: Nordstrom
When mythic stories circulate about your company’s awesome customer service,
you know you’re doing something right. That’s the hallmark of this upscale
department store, which is rumored to have once graciously accepted the return of a
set of tires, even though the store has never sold tires.
“Nordstrom is all about the power of delivering exceptional customer service that
goes above and beyond a typical service experience.”
[About the survey] The Values Institute, which conducted the study, identified five
values that influence trust in a brand: ability (company performance); concern
(care for consumers, employees and community); connection (sharing consumers’
values); consistency (dependability of products/services); and sincerity (openness
–Paula Andruss, Entrepreneur, April 2012
INHERITING THE START-UP GENE (Sectors: All Industry Sectors)
New findings about children of entrepreneurs.
It’s been shown that children of entrepreneurs are more likely to start business
themselves, but there may be more to the equation. A new study suggests that the
influence of an entrepreneurial parent is highly correlated with the age of the children,
and that the success or failure of a parent’s business plays a role, too.
Since 1990, several studies have firmly established that children of entrepreneurs are
two to three times more likely to launch a company than are kids of traditional salary
earners. But researchers continue to try to understand why.
The researchers found that kids who were young adults (18 to 21) when their parents
ran companies seemed to be most influenced by Mom’s or Dad’s choice of career path.
The research also confirms that parents who fail in a business seem to act as “negative
role models,” making their kids significantly less likely to launch a company. But this
was mainly true for older kids who had seen a parent’s business crumble. Younger
children were not as affected.
The researchers plumbed the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal data set
run by the University of Michigan that has followed nearly 8,000 representative U.S.
families since 1968. First, they identified people who left traditional jobs to become self-
employed. Using the family income data, the researchers determined how the
businesses fared in subsequent years. They looked for signs of a start-up gone bad:
founders who were later unemployed, left the business after suffering losses, or
reentered the traditional work force at a lower wage. Next, they looked at the kids of
these entrepreneurs and determined how old they were when their parents ran
companies. Researchers then examined whether the children ultimately became self-
employed themselves. (Because detailed data was available about heads of
households, who were mostly male, the study looked at only male children.)
Business failures are traumatic, and it’s no surprise that kids who watch their parents go
through one might conclude that a more stable job is the way to go. The more
important finding relates to age. If 18- to 21-year-olds are the most impressionable
when it comes to their parents’ businesses, there’s reason to believe that age group
would be highly receptive to entrepreneurial education, say the study’s authors.
–Daniel McGinn, INC. Magazine, May 2012
MODCLOTH (Fashion and Interior Design; Information Technology; Manufacturing and Product Development,
Marketing Sales and Service)
BIG IDEA: Getting customers to design their own clothes.
Democratizing fashion may seem like a lofty goal, but that’s the mission Eric Koger and
Susan Gregg Koger have set for ModCloth, an online retailer that sells vintage-inspired
duds from more than 600 independent designers. Now, the husband-and-wife team is
moving one step closer to its objective by launching a clothing line designed by
In November, the San Francisco-based company introduced a contest called Make the
Cut. Customers were invited to submit clothing sketches over a two-week period. After
receiving more than 1,900 submissions, Susan Gregg Koger selected a group of
finalists and let customers vote for their favorites on ModCloth’s Facebook page. All
told, the sketches drew more than 10,000 votes and 1,000 comments. The company
ultimately chose seven designs—the top five vote getters plus two of Susan’s
favorites—for production. Each of the winning designers will receive a $500 prize.
Plus, each winner will have her name printed on the garment labels, along with
ModCloth’s, when the line goes on sale this spring.
ModCloth has long sought new ways to engage customers and better cater to their
tastes. In 2009, the company launched an initiative called Be the Buyer, which lets
customers vote on which designs the company should stock.
Letting customers contribute their designs, however, proved tricky. The Kogers had
been wanting to pursue the idea for years, but they struggled to find someone who had
extensive knowledge of fashion merchandising and was receptive to ModCloth’s
For the first contest, ModCloth is setting modest sales goals. The company is
producing an initial run of 200 dresses for each of the seven designs. If those clothes
sell well, the Kogers may turn the contests into a revenue-sharing program, in which
winning designers receive a percentage of their garments’ sales. Ultimately, the Kogers
want to expand ModCloth’s inventory by providing opportunities for new designers who
may not have access to production facilities. “We’d like to help every designer get a
real customer for their product,” says Susan.
–April Joyner, INC. Magazine, May, 2012
START-UP PROVERBS (Finance and Business; Manufacturing and Product Development; Marketing Sales
Now launching his third company, Jason Freedman has developed several rules and
principles, which he shares on his blog, humbledMBA. Here are a few of them:
It’s not the amount of money you raise, it’s who you raise it from.
If you’re worried about protecting your great business idea from potential competitors,
you’re not getting the feedback you need to have a chance at making it work.
When no one has succeeded in a market, it’s because everyone has missed something.
Figure it out, and you’ve got a great business.
If your idea is really unique, you’re doomed. The market is either too far behind you, or
it’s too small.
If you’re not getting feedback from customers, it’s because they don’t like you, and
you’re going to die.
Don’t close deals. Build relationships.
–David H. Freedman, INC. Magazine, May, 2012
THE 10 FASTEST DYING INDUSTRIES IN AMERICA (Sectors: Multiple Industry Sectors)
The rise of cheap imports, technological advancements and the financial crisis have
collectively delivered a harsh blow to some U.S. industries.
IBISWorld is out with a list of 10 American industries that have seen sharp revenue
declines, a fall in industry participants and a declining life cycle stage between 2002 and
Competition from digital cameras and camera phones has been a blow to the
photofinishing industry which has seen revenue shrink 11.4 percent every year over the
last 10 years. The pervasiveness of the consumer shift to digital devices and online
photo-sharing platforms has seen fewer consumers turn to printing photos.
The appliance repair industry has taken a hit since many consumers have opted to buy
new household appliances instead of fixing them mostly because the price of household
appliances has fallen an annualized rate of 2.4 percent (from 2002 – 2012).
The factor most directly responsible for the industry’s downturn however has been the
increasing trend among manufacturers to offer warranties on new appliances.
Improving appliance technologies have also resulted in lower demand for repair service.
DVD, Game & Video Rental
The DVD, game and video rental industry has taken a hit because of its struggle to
adapt to a competitive marketplace and embrace technological developments.
Consumers are increasingly opting for streaming, video on demand (VOD) and
Money Market and Other Banking
The money market and banking industry that is made up of banks owned by non-
financial companies and unincorporated banks that are not regulated by the Federal
Reserve, took a massive blow during the financial crisis. With no access to TARP many
drowned during the recession.
Many banks have been pushed toward commercial banking status and have seen
average annual revenue decline 6.9 percent over the past five years. Moreover
consolidation in the banking sector is likely to see revenue decline further.
The newspaper and publishing industry has seen revenue decline at an annual rate of
6.4 percent over the past 10 years, driven by competition from web-based competitors.
Newspapers can, however, try to drive revenue through the use of paywalls and by
charging for applications that allow access to full issues and multimedia content across
a range of platforms.
Recordable Media Manufacturing
Technological developments have hurt the recordable media manufacturing industry
which makes tapes and disks. Consumers first shifted to hard drives, and more recently
to online downloading and streaming technologies. This, combined with the access to
on-demand digital media, caused industry revenue to fall an average annual rate of 7.4
percent over the past 10 years.
This industry does however have room to grow and develop a niche market since bigger
files like 3D movies cannot be supported through current streaming technologies.
The rise of low-cost imports is causing a decline in the hardware manufacturing
industry. Imports currently account for more than 50 percent of all metal hinges,
handles, keys and locks sold in the U.S. compared with 29.3 percent in 2002. Most of
these imports come from China, Mexico and Canada.
Shoe and Footwear Manufacturing
Competitive imports have delivered an especially hard blow to the shoe and footwear
manufacturing industry, which has to compete with low-cost imports that account for a
massive 95 percent of domestic consumption.
China alone accounts for 75 percent of the industry’s imports. With rising labor costs in
China however, Vietnam has also surfaced as a new competitive threat.
Costume and Team Uniform Manufacturing
Costume and team manufacturing has seen revenue contract at an average annual
pace of 6.7 percent over the last decade. The industry’s revenue is down from $2 billion
in 2002. The relocation of manufacturing to other countries has hurt industry revenues.
Berkshire Hathaway through its subsidiary Russell Corporation is a major player in this
Women’s and Girls Apparel Manufacturing
The women and girls apparel manufacturing industry has been hit by off-shoring and
outsourcing. Revenue is already less than half of what it was in 2012 and has fallen at
an average rate of 8.2 percent over the past decade.
There are now 1,196 manufacturing sites making women’s and girl’s apparel in the
U.S., down from 2,272 ten years ago. But there is a silver lining, high-end goods in the
industry can’t be cheaply produced abroad and have a niche consumer that could help it
–Business Insider, DailyFinance.com, IBIS World, April 2012
FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS TRY TO TALK A BETTER GAME (Sectors: Education, Market Sales
A reminder today from the world of marketing. A big part of selling something is just the
way you talk about it. It’s not a tax increase if you call it a “revenue enhancer.” It’s not
a down day on Wall Street – it’s a “buying opportunity.” Along those lines, for-profit
colleges are trying to change their image by changing their language.
The campaign was dubbed “Project Rose,” as in Shakespeare’s “a rose by any other
name.” The Chronicle of Higher Education got its hands on the plan. The for-profit
college industry’s main trade group was pushing members to lose the business jargon
and speak like educators. Instead of “parent company,” try “university system.”
“Recruiter?” How about “counselor?” And my favorite: a “piece of business” should be
called an “applicant.” It wasn’t until too long ago that people really thought “for-profit” in
general was antithetical to education.
Kevin Kinser teaches higher education policy at the University of Albany. Kinser says
for-profit colleges have been working to shed the image of an industry focused on high
enrollment above all else. Schools like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan have been
accused of leaving students with lots of debt and degrees of questionable value.
Communications consultant Michael Maslanksy says other industries have played with
words to repair their reputations. Remember “used cars”? Now you buy a pre-owned
vehicle, and it’s had a full kind of review and makeover. It’s been tested. And so, the
language changed, but so did the industry.
The for-profit college industry is changing too – not exactly by choice. Recruiters –
pardon me – counselors can no longer be paid commissions for signing up students,
and some schools offer free trials to weed out students who are less likely to succeed.
–Amy Scott, Marketplace, American Public Media, March, 2012
THE WORLD AS R+D LAB (Multiple Industry Sectors)
How to recognize great ideas from developing countries—and bring them home.
We imagine innovation as a trickle-down process. Companies in places such as the
United States, Europe, and Japan deploy sophisticated technology to produce premium
products for developed markets. Then they strip out some features, maybe substitute
cheaper materials and eliminate most options, and ship their diminished creations to
presumably less-demanding customers in Africa, Asia, and South America.
But the days of rich countries’ hegemony over innovation may be numbered. In their
new book, Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere (Harvard
Business Review Press), Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble describe the developing
world as a fertile research and development lab for companies in any market. The
authors, both professors at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, argue that
increasingly, breakthrough ideas will sprout in poor countries and be replanted here.
Govindarajan spoke with Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan about how U.S.
entrepreneurs can take advantage of this bi-directional model.
Parners in Health developed the accompagnateur model—in which people in poor
communities are trained to provide health care for their neighbors—for use in Haiti. PIH
has since brought the model to 10 other countries and to its hometown of Boston.
Talk is Cheap
By outsourcing every last bit of network management to big European carriers, India’s
Bharti Airtel was able to offer cell-phone service for as little as a penny a minute. Sprint
liked the model well enough to bring it to the U.S.
GE Healthcare created low-cost and portable EKG and ultrasound machines for use in
India and China. American doctors saw them and wanted them, and now represent a
Turn It Up
Harman International designed its cheap, flexible automotive infotainment system for
Chinese carmakers—because who would want it for American consumers? Turns out
Toyota would; it uses the Entune system throughout its lineup.
Picking up on traditional remedies, P&G developed a honey-based cough medicine for
Latin America. When that worked, the product was renamed and directed at the
Hispanic market in the U.S. Now it has a third name, Vicks Nature Fusion, and is
What are the greatest obstacles to developed-world business leaders’
recognizing and capitalizing on the potential of developing-world innovations?
The biggest obstacle is the mindset. In the developed world, we have been so
successful for so long catering to a very sophisticated customer, supplying premium
products with high margins. That dominant logic does not work in poor countries. It is a
fundamentally different customer set with fundamentally different problems.
Sometimes, countries can become insular when they are so successful. For American
entrepreneurs to tap into this opportunity, they have to be curious about the problems of
people in poor countries. This curiosity—if you can acquire it, then you can succeed.
–Caitlin Berens, INC. Magazine, May, 2012
WEATHER MEN (Sectors: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Energy and Utilities; Finance and Business;
EarthRisk crunches decades of data to give traders and utilities a fighting chance at
In San Diego the palm trees sway in the warm winter’s breeze, and the sun shines a
reliable 40% of the year. It’s an odd location for a startup that tries to predict weather
extremes. But in an office on a hill above the Pacific Ocean, a small company called
EarthRisk Technologies is doing just that: crunching through massive amounts of
historical weather data to determine the odds of really bad heat waves and cold snaps,
all to give its customers—utilities, power producers and energy traders—the edge they
need in playing dice with Mother Nature.
Started by a hedge fund meteorologist turned entrepreneur named Stephen Bennett,
EarthRisk calculates the probability of market-changing bad weather up to 40 days in
advance. That’s twice as long as the most far-seeing conventional forecasts. On a visit
to EarthRisk I’m taken by Bennett into “the Matrix” the Web interface that shows these
projections on grids and U.S. maps. EarthRisk defines extreme weather, for now, as a
period of temperatures in the top or bottom 10% of the historic range that affects at least
10% of the area of a specific region of the U.S.
Last fall, for instance, the consensus was that the coming winter would be cold, and
natural gas prices rose accordingly. But as EarthRisk’s software crunched the historical
numbers—performing an initial 82 billion calculations—its projections from November
showed a warming trend in the Midwest and East, a trajectory that would accelerate as
the winter wore on. (Each day the company’s software runs through 4 million
calculations to update its forecast.)
As EarthRisk predicted, this winter had the second-highest number of extreme heat
events and the lowest number of extreme cold events since 1948. Natural gas prices
Up next: hurricanes. Scientists at Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology
Project are working with EarthRisk to improve forecasts of hurricane formation from the
current 48 hours to 5 to 10 days or more. “Up to now there is no way to tell that,
absolutely no objective way,” says William Gray, a renowned hurricane forecaster and
founder of the Tropical Meteorology Project. If it’s successful, insurance companies
would likely sign up for such a service. Iberdrola, the U.S.’ second-largest wind farm
operator, may also want advance notice about wind conditions.
–Todd Woody, Forbes Magazine, April, 2012
SOLAR POWER BY NIGHT (Sectors: Energy and Utilities; Manufacturing and Product Development)
Innovation: Energy-Story Glass
Thermal solar plants use fields of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a central receiver
tower, superheating a liquid contained inside—usually molten salt. When the sun isn’t
shining, the stored heat is used to power steam turbines that create electricity. Molten
salt can absorb only so much heat, though, which limits the plants’ efficiency.
Halotechnics, an Emeryville, California-based start-up, has developed a glass that
remains stable at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius (2192 degrees Fahrenheit)
when melted—hundreds of degrees hotter than the threshold of molten salt. For ease
of transport, the glass is delivered as solid beads and then melted on-site. Halotechnics
recently received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. government’s ARPA-E (Advanced
Research Projects Agency—Energy) agency and hopes to commercialize the product
Pump it up
At production scale, millions of the glass beads would be transported to a solar power
plant, melted in a large tank at 500 degrees Celsius, then pumped into a receiver tower
to absorb the sun’s concentrated heat.
Mix and match
To find the perfect formula for its glass, Halotechnics used a software platform that
allows the company to screen 100 chemical compounds a day.
The glass gets its green color from a proprietary additive that reduces its melting point,
preventing it from resolidifying when temperatures drop.
–J. J. McCorvey, INC. Magazine, May, 2012
THE HOTTEST TECH OF 2015 AND BEYOND (Sectors: Building Trades and Construction;
Engineering and Design; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Information Technology; Transportation)
From breakthrough batteries to robots that love, here’s what tech companies have on
tap for the next 300 years.
Microsoft’s “Home of the Future”
Inside its Redmond, Wash., headquarters, Microsoft built a futuristic home, complete
with a foyer, living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom and den.
No, it’s not where Bill Gates stays when he’s in town. It’s Microsoft’s equivalent of the
concept car, showing off things that are possible today and could be affordable – maybe
even prevalent – within the next three to five years.
When you walk into the home, you’re greeted by “Grace,” a disembodied voice named
after computer pioneer Grace Hopper. Grace gives you a rundown on what’s happened
since you left, including the news that your electric scooter will be charged in 37
minutes, your daughter got an A on her math test, and you have four voicemail
Microsoft envisions a near-future where everything is connected to the cloud. That
means your home will learn a lot about you, including your routine. It can remind you to
take your medicine and automatically send a message to your relatives if you do
anything out of the ordinary like come home early or leave your doors unlocked.
Hundreds of tiny sensors are located throughout the home, tracking everything from
whether your suit is at the cleaners to when a plant needs more light. Knowing what’s
in your fridge and pantry, the home suggests a suitable recipe, which Grace can read
out while you cook.
Microsoft’s Home of the Future has been in existence since 1994 and gets a makeover
every two years. Nothing on display is actually in Microsoft’s product roadmap, but the
company believes that much of the technology will make its way into middle-class
homes in the coming years.
IBM’s Lithium-air battery
The batteries that power electric and electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles today are no
different than the lithium-ion batteries that run your laptop. Electric car makers
essentially just load bunches of laptop batteries into the vehicles and wire them
The result is a bunch of extremely heavy cars that don’t get decent mileage on a single
charge – affordably, anyway. The much-anticipated Tesla Model S will be an all-electric
car that gets 300 miles per charge, but it’ll set you back at least $70,000.
That’s why IBM is working on a next-generation battery technology called lithium-air.
IBM thinks it can produce an electric vehicle battery capable of powering a car for 500
miles on one charge.
Lithium-air batteries generate a current from the reaction of oxygen and lithium ions.
The theoretical battery would be much denser, increasing the amount of energy it can
store, and significantly lighter than current options.
IBM, which is collaborating with several national laboratories across the country on the
project, calls the program “very high-risk.” But if everything goes to plan, it expects to
have a working prototype next year and a lithium-air battery in a car as soon as 2020.
SkinDisplay text messages
We’ve become so tied to our gadgets that a mere hour without them can make us
stressed and worried that we’re missing something important. A London-based
industrial designer wants to change that with text messages imprinted in the skin.
Clara Gaggero, who heads Vitamins Design, received a call from BlackBerry maker
Research in Motion in late 2009. The company asked her firm to “to help solve the
problem of mobile phones becoming intrusive,” she says.
So Gaggero spent almost a year developing SkinDisplay. It uses piezoelectric
technology – a technique through which an electrical current can stiffen material – to
display raised-up letters on the back of a phone (think Braille). The raised-up message
includes the caller’s name, a short reason for their call, and one to three dots to indicate
Receivers merely press a thumb on the raised message, and it’s imprinted into their
skin – easy to check on the sly.
“If you’re in a meeting and you hear your phone ring, you immediately get stressed out
because you can’t answer it. Is it an emergency?” Is something wrong with the kids?
We wanted to give the phone a chance to be discreet,” Gaggero says.
She and her team spent two months shadowing 15 people to document their mobile
phone behavior. This included tracking a couple on a romantic dinner, a technophobe
math teacher and a teenager who sent about 100 texts a day.
“We wanted it to fit in with real-life interactions,” Gaggero says.
After several months, she finally presented the work to RIM in late 2010; the BlackBerry
maker, in turn, filed to patent the technology a few months later. Gaggero says she
doesn’t know what RIM will do with the technology, and the company declined to
comment for this piece. Here’s hoping it won’t become vaporware!
IBM’s 12-atom memory storage
The tech industry is reaching the physical limits of how much magnetically stored
information it can cram into a bit of data. Hard drive capacity just can’t get much bigger.
Today, storing one bit of data requires about 1 million magnetically charged atoms. IBM
in January announced that it got that down to just 12 atoms. That breakthrough
represents storage 100 times denser than it is on today’s hard disk drives.
First, the bad news. IBM could only hit its milestone temporarily, in a lab, with a
scanning tunneling electron microscope, at temperatures approaching absolute zero.
The good news is that the company believes it can eventually use its research to bring
something to market that is significantly denser and more capacious than today’s
The result? You might be able to store your entire music collection on an iPod shuffle.
And you could one day see 250-terabyte hard drives at your local electronics store.
Intel’s programmable matter
Imagine taking your smartphone out of your pocket, hitting a button, and watching your
device instantly become a laptop. Or picture designing a 3-D model of something and
having it pop out of a table for you to adjust its shape or color.
It seems far-fetched, but shape-shifting matter is something Intel is working on today.
The company things it will be possible within the next decade.
The transformation could be accomplished by millions of tiny micro-robots working
together to take a particular shape. Intel calls those sphere-shaped micro-robots
“catoms.” They’ll possess enough computing power to be programmable – so they can
move or appear in a certain fashion – and they’ll eventually be about a tenth of a
millimeter in diameter. Right now, Intel has built them about 1 millimeter across.
If catom material were used to make a device’s casing, it would be theoretically possible
for your smartphone, laptop or tablet to change shape. It could be tiny when you put it
in your pocket but large when you want to type on it. It could fashion an earpiece when
you want to use it as a phone, and have a large, flat keyboard when you want to browse
the Internet at home.
Intel is focusing initially on the health sector: It hopes to provide 3-D visualizations of
body parts scanned by MRIs, CAT scans or ultrasounds. Surgeons could interact with a
model of something they’re about to fix before they actually do the surgery, and doctors
could study an organ in three dimensions while they’re making a diagnosis.
Seaweed-powered supersonic airplane
Imagine zipping from Paris to Tokyo in less than three hours, on a plane powered by all-
natural ... seaweed. That’s the premise of aircraft manufacturer EADS’s Zero Emission
Hyper Sonic Transport (ZEHST).
The ZEHST is something of a descendant of the famed Concorde line of aircraft, which
brought to the mainstream supersonic flight – air travel so fast that it could break the
speed of sound. The Concorde flew its last in 2003. The next generation of supersonic
aircraft aims to be even faster, and much more environmentally friendly.
The ZEHST aircraft, powered by biofuel made of seaweed, is due out in 2050. EADS
didn’t respond to our requests for comment, but CNN reported on the details when the
ZEHST was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June 2011.
At the show, EADS said the plane’s three engine types – conventional jets, rockets and
supersonic “ramjets” – will allow it to speed at Mach 4, around 5,000 kmh. That would
cut the flight from Paris to Tokyo to 2.5 hours, down from 11 hours. Perhaps a
transcontinental commute is in reach.
Softbank’s 300-year plan
Talk about planning ahead. In 2010, Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank
spelled out its vision for getting in front of the technology trends that it thinks will
dominate the landscape in the next 300 years.
That’s right: Softbank is strategizing for 2300.
Softbank believes that computers will grow smarter and will eventually be capable of
besting their creators in practically every facet of life. If current trends hold, the number
of transistors on a circuit will exceed the number of brain cells in a human brain by
2018. They will outpace brain cells by a factor of 200 by 2040, and by a factor of 1060
As a result, Softbank is working on “bringing the brain computer to life,” which it calls
“the greatest paradigm shift of humankind.” In 300 years, Softbank thinks a symbiosis
of computer technology and the human brain will be achieved, leading to telepathic
Language barriers will be permanently broken, as translation will be done automatically
and in real-time.
Advanced chips will lead to machines that can learn how to love, Softbank forecasts.
We’ll co-exist with intelligent robots, and most technologies will be invented by
computers. The average human life-expectancy will be 200 years, thanks to DNA
treatments and artificial organs.
Too bad we’ll miss it.
–David Goldman, Julianne Pepitone, CNN/Money/Tech, February, 2012
Market Watch / Trend Tracker Today
Richard L. Bogart – Editor
Carol Jones – Co-Editor, North Orange County ROP
California State Standards for Career and Technical Education (CTE)
CTE Industry Sectors
1. Agriculture and Natural Resources 9. Health Science and Medical Technology
2. Arts, Media, and Entertainment Technology 10. Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation
3. Building Trades and Construction 11. Information Technology
4. Education, Child Development and Family Services 12. Manufacturing and Product Development
5. Energy and Utilities 13. Marketing, Sales, and Service
6. Engineering and Design 14. Public Services
7. Fashion and Interior Design 15. Transportation
8. Finance and Business
CAROCP is Mission Driven – Market Smart
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