Airlines Opt for a ‘Two-Cabin’ Experience

Quartz: “Airlines are getting rid of the most coveted seats on their aircrafts, favoring souped-up versions of business class in the hope that high-paying customers won’t be able to tell the difference.” For Example: “United Airlines earlier this month unveiled its new business-class service, United Polaris, which will include rows of sleeping pods instead of seats. The company says it is ‘phasing out’ the first-class cabin in favor of a ‘a two-cabin experience for international travel’ … The trend is part of airlines’ battle for revenue, particularly high-paying customers.”

Analyst Jonathan Kletzel comments: “Once you’re lying flat and you’ve got your own personal screen and you’re getting a nice dinner, the distinction comes down to nicer wines, plusher pillow … That’s where you’re at.”

“For the rest of us, there’s premium economy, airlines’ latest pitch to entice coach travelers to pay a premium for a little bit extra legroom, early boarding, and other perks.”

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Made By Cow: Introducing Cold-Pressure Milk

Gizmag: “Made by Cow (MBC) says its alternative cold-pressure approach is a world first, with the milk going from cow to bottle within a matter of hours. The company explains that it is then put under intense ‘isostatic cold water pressure.’ Here, cold water is used to compress both the bottle, which is plastic so as to flex, and the milk inside … MBC reports that ‘bacteria can’t withstand the pressure we subject them to’ and so are eliminated, while the cold temperature of the water reportedly ensures that the process is gentler on the milk’s nutritional profile.”

“MBC claims that the resulting produce is creamier and more vitamin-rich than conventionally processed milk and that it will actually last slightly longer, too, though specifics are not yet available.”

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PS: Ikea Beyond The Basics

Fast Company: “Every few years, Ikea releases its limited-edition PS Collection—a series of experimental products that aren’t intended to supplant its perennial offerings, but rather to add a jolt of energy into its stores … For its 2017 PS Collection, Ikea’s designers chose a theme they call Young Urban Life, delving into new material research, fabrication techniques, and product types.”

“Some of the more idiosyncratic products include a seating piece that looks like the love child of a Papasan chair and a rocker, a sofa that looks like it’s composed of pillows, and a throw blanket that can be worn like a jacket … For the practicality-minded set, there are still a few space-efficient pieces, like stackable storage bins, collapsible side tables that fold away when not in use, and arm chairs that join to become a love seat.”

Henrik Most Nielsen of Ikea: “Ikea is for the many, but the many are different. We’re trying to attract customers who think Ikea isn’t at the front of design. We’re moving from basics to embodying a strong personality and style.”

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Auto Boutique: Tesla @ Nordstrom

USA Today: “Tesla opened an electric-car boutique in the men’s section of the Nordstrom store that could become the model for others. Tesla has had its own stores in malls, but not one inside of a department store. Not only could it potentially cut the automaker’s real-estate costs, but it could also help Tesla attract more customers who discover the car just by walking by.”

“Reached for comment, the automaker issued a statement stressing that the two companies have a lot in common”: “Tesla and Nordstrom share a relentless drive to engage and delight customers with new and innovative shopping experiences,” it said. “The Nordstrom shopper embodies a lifestyle that parallels that of many Tesla owners –- people who are forward-thinking, savvy, and curious to explore the latest and best trends.”

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LaCroix: Seltzer as Lifestyle Brand

Vox: “LaCroix isn’t the only brand to benefit from the sparkling water boom. But it’s the one that’s risen to the coveted status of lifestyle brand … The secret behind LaCroix’s rise is a mix of old-fashioned business strategy and cutting-edge social marketing. When Americans wanted carbonated water, LaCroix was positioned to give them them fizzy water. Then, sometimes by accident, LaCroix developed fans among mommy bloggers, Paleo eaters, and Los Angeles writers who together pushed LaCroix into the zeitgeist.”

“About five years ago, LaCroix spotted an opportunity. The downfall of soda was creating a craving for sparkling water … Dieters kicking soda and alcohol were among the first LaCroix devotees, happy to find something with a little more flavor … First came coconut, followed apricot, mango, and tangerine … Offering 20 flavors gives LaCroix the ability to profit from ubiquity while keeping the cachet of scarcity. Most stores don’t carry every flavor, so stocking up on a favorite can require some persistence.”

“LaCroix has become more than just a popular sparkling water. It’s become part of the story people tell about who they are. The internet bursts with ways for LaCroix devotees … to declare their loyalty. You can buy a T-shirt for $25 that says … LACROIXS OVER BOYS … This is the crux of LaCroix’s success: People will spend far more than a case of its cans cost to tell the world how much they love LaCroix … LaCroix has populated its own Instagram with photos taken by its followers — a cascade of pretty, laughing people; stacks of pastel LaCroix cases; and gorgeous, minimalist still lifes with artfully placed seltzer cans.”

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Finger Pickin’ Good: The Hardee’s Jam

The Wall Street Journal: “How many banjo players fit in a Hardee’s? More than fit in a McDonald’s, it turns out. On regular Sunday evenings, bluegrass picker Rick Cleavenger joins fiddlers, guitarists and others to jam at the red-roofed burger joint. The musicians have been playing, eating and making corny jokes here since 2012, after a McDonald’s, their previous venue, rearranged its tables and chairs, making it impossible to clear enough space.”

“Mr. Cleavenger landed the Hardee’s venue because the manager, Lori Westfall, had been a high-school math student of his … Sometimes customers walk in after hearing the music from their cars. The musicians aren’t the best customers, given that they stay for more than four hours and generally only eat one or two sandwiches each, ‘but they are fine people,’ says Ms. Westfall.”

“Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Hardee’s and sister restaurant chain Carl’s Jr., says even though ‘a certain level of consistency is important,’ the chain welcomes local culture … ‘It has to be organic, with people inviting people they know,’ says Mr. Haley. “We’re not going to put up a sign that says ‘Bluegrass Jam Welcome’.”

As to the McDonald’s snub: “Terri Hickey, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s Corp., says ‘franchisees are independent business owners who determine how they delight their customers in relevant ways.’ In New York City, there is a “McDonald’s where customers can dine to music played by a local DJ,’ she says.”

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Vegan Seats: What’s Next In Luxury Cars?

The Wall Street Journal: “Interior styling, of which seating is the cornerstone, is the second most cited reason why a shopper won’t buy a car—beating out a vehicle’s dependability rating … with rising consumer expectations and auto-maker competition, the once lowly seat is now getting some much needed attention … Some seats offer “lane-departure warning systems that shake a corner of the seat, heating and cooling options, and, in some cases, a massage feature.”

“Cars 20 years ago were all about horsepower, tire width or how fast you could go from zero to 60,” says Ray Scott, of Lear Corp., a seat designer. “Now it’s all about the driving experience, and seats are where the person is spending most of the time.”

“Lear has developed technology that turns the seat into a biometrics scanner with the ability to monitor the occupant’s heart rate and display it on the center entertainment screen.” Tesla “is offering vegan-style seating in its Model X and the new Model 3 SUV due out next year. The option involves seats covered with synthetic leather.”

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Small Bore: Is Apple Thinking ‘Different’ Enough?

“Apple’s view increasingly feels like an outdated way of thinking about tech. Many of its competitors have been moving beyond devices toward experiences that transcend them,” writes Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times. These new technologies exist not on distinct pieces of hardware, but above and within them … it’s hard to tell if Apple is thinking big enough.”

“Apple still seems to view online services as add-ons to its devices — not as products or platforms that rise above them.” For example: “Siri, as Apple is positioning it, is becoming a better app launcher for your phone … But it’s not clear that it’s becoming a truly intelligent assistant.”

“One problem is that the new Siri will not integrate with all kinds of apps … It’s hard to shake the suspicion that Apple is using Siri to give its own apps a leg up … Another problem is that Siri is still hopelessly tied to each Apple device … If Siri is an intelligent assistant, why … can’t she call Uber from the cloud, regardless of which device you happen to be using?”

“Google, Amazon and several start-ups seem to be rushing headlong to build such a system. But … I’m not sure Apple is,” Manjoo writes. “It’s taking a more moderate app-based, device-centric path. Many of its voice features will be fine — useful, even. But it sure isn’t pushing for a revolution.”

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Post Pink: Game-Developer Barbie

Slate: “Game Developer Barbie is wearing jeans, sensible shoes (!), and a T-shirt that is both nerdy and kind of cute … She has a laptop that is laptop-colored, because women can actually use tech products that aren’t pink. There are no pictures of Ken or fashion magazines around her workspace, just coffee, headphones, flowcharts—not to mention actual programming books (C++ and C#) and action figures (He-Man!). She still likes some pink, of course; this is Barbie, and there’s nothing wrong with pink.”

“Perhaps most striking, Barbie can actually code … The interface appears to be Alice, an educational programming environment, and the code it’s outputting is ActionScript (or maybe Haxe). Basically, she seems to be making a Bejeweled clone in Flash … The back of her box tells us: Game development involves storytelling, art & graphic design, audio design, & computer programming. Because there are so many aspects to creating a game, teamwork is important.”

“Mattel might consider partnerships to create its own programming tools tied to the Barbie universe. Wouldn’t it be cool if kids could make and share interactive Barbie stories—learning some programming while also having the agency to create their own empowered Barbie characters?”

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