June 2010 Archives

Tyler Brule:

There's nothing quite like the release of an urban quality of life index to send property developers into a spin and city halls into fits of rage. Locals (who won't hear a bad thing said about their beloved Chicago, faultless Frankfurt, impeccable Seattle or perfect Perth) can "lose it" when it's announced that their city is not the best place to live in the world - or even in the top 10. If you're prone to violent outbursts when others find that your hometown isn't quite as great as you think it is then I should perhaps guide you to another part of FT Weekend, as Monocle magazine's annual global quality of life survey is about to be published and only 25 cities make the cut.

House & Home has the exclusive on the winning cities and a bit of insight on why homebuyers might want to consider relocating to Munich rather than Hamburg or Helsinki over Oslo. The full ranking (complete with breakdowns, metrics and honourable mentions) goes on sale next week.

Now in its fourth year, the survey takes a slightly different tack on ranking the best cities to call home using measurements that go beyond the basics of crime statistics and cost of living such as hours of sunshine, ease of setting up a business and global connectivity (direct, non-stop flights). For 2010 it took a look at what mayors have in store for their citizens, factoring in big infrastructure initiatives on the horizon and also how diverse a city's streetscape is in terms of independent retailers and restaurants - too many chain stores and a city lost points.

A brief introduction to Monocle's July, 2010 can be found here.

The Financial Investigator: Most every day at 802 Southeast Plaza Avenue in Bentonville, Arkansas appears to be a pretty good one.

That's because that address houses the headquarters of Americas Car-Mart, an auto retailer that has found the sweet spot, the intersection where a corporation's business model meets consumer demand and the net income flows like cool, clear water.

Focusing exclusively on the sub-prime auto-buyer, their clean and efficiently-organized used-car lots throughout the south-central and southwest regions offer a stark contrast to the traditionally dodgy experience of buying a used-car; no one at any Americas Car-Mart locale is likely to be mistaken for the Kurt Russell character in Used Cars. The staff is friendly and well-turned out, there is a wide variety of cars, trucks and vans to choose from, the business offices are clean and air-conditioned and, perhaps best of all, the word "no" just doesn't appear to be used all that often.

From an analytical standpoint, the business model appears to be simplicity itself.

Internet Trends

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Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt, Liang Wu: 1.2MB PDF.

Henry Blodget comments:

Some key points:

The iPad is one of the fastest-selling gadgets of all time (1mm in 28 days)

Android smartphone shipments almost now equal iPhone shipments (Apple's app leverage may disappear fast)

Global 3G wireless penetration just hit 20%, which is usually the inflection point to very rapid growth

Mobile app and search usage is up 2X year over year

iPad Internet usage is more similar to desktop usage than smartphone usage (more pageviews)

Japan shows the potential for mobile advertising: Japan mobile ad spending now $11/user, up from $1 per user six years ago.

Japan shows potential for mobile commerce: 19% of Rakutan's sales now from mobile.

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