I have the Sony Google TV, and I think I am one of the first people who bought it (back in 2012). I use it every day to watch videos on YouTube (I love watching the Sherlock Holmes series, the one from the 80s-90s starring Jeremy Brett), I also use it to occasionally stream movies on Crackle.

Yesterday (or was it Saturday), I was surprised, when I opened Crackle, to see something like the following message:

Crackle is no longer supported on GoogleTV. You can still use Crackle on your PC or your Android device.

What was surprising is that it happened all of a sudden (much like everything else these days), but what wasn’t surprising is that it happened: The service wasn’t working properly on Google TV (it was working, but not properly) and it was probably costing Crackle more money to maintain than it was actually making through advertising revenue.

What was a bit ironic is that Crackle is a Sony business, and it is no longer working on that Sony device.

Sony seems to be taking a very proactive approach towards its services and products recently, immediately canceling those that are deemed unprofitable or generating losses.

I’m not sure I will miss Crackle as much as I miss the VAIO laptop, maybe because I can live without it or maybe because I can still use it on my other TV (which is Android powered).

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

AMZN, in my opinion, is a very risky stock, but, in the opinion of many, many others, it is a safe haven and a golden egg. Regardless of what I think and what other investors think, here are some 10 facts about Amazon:

  1. Amazon became public on May of 1998.

  2. Amazon started trading at $18/share (Google Finance shows that it started trading at $1.5, but remember that the stock was split 1:12 between 1998 and 1999).

  3. Females constitute about 65% of Amazon’s traffic.

  4. AMZN had 3 splits between June of 1998 and September of 1999. In short, 1 share of AMZN back in 1998 is 12 shares of AMZN at the current moment.

  5. Amazon never paid dividends.

  6. AMZN was hardly hit during the NASDAQ crash of 2000. However, even in its worst days, its price remained above IPO level.

  7. It took AMZN 10 years to regain its 2000 peak price.

  8. If you bought 1,000 shares with AMZN back in 1998 (worth $18,000) and kept them to this date, you would have $3,936,000.

  9. April of 2007 was the most active month for AMZN, where 250 millions shares were traded (about 10 times the average).

  10. AMZN is trading at a P/E of 862, which means that it’ll take Amazon 862 years to pay off its investors.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Every time a new iPhone is out, Canadians wait in line every day for months (until the new iPhone is available in abundance) to buy it. For the untrained eye, this might look like a Canadian obsession with new technology, especially with new iPhones. But, for those of us who have a little more knowledge about Canadians, the real reason lies elsewhere.

In Canada, and unlike the United States, Apple stores sell new iPhones unlocked (e.g. not restricted to a certain carrier), and these phones are usually worth a lot more than locked phones, and can be sold to anyone anywhere since they can work in any country and with any carrier.

Those obsessed Canadians are not really obsessed. In fact, they probably couldn’t care less about the iPhone, because the second they buy it, they will try to sell it on eBay. If you check eBay right now, you will see a bunch of unlocked iPhones being sold by Canadians (and only by Canadians), sometimes for $1,000 more than the original price. Not too bad for waiting in line for a day’s work of doing nothing other than waiting in line.

So, if you pass by a long line of eager Canadians waiting in front of an Apple store to get the new iPhone, then remember, it’s not about the iPhone, it’s about the money!

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

“I don’t know what kind of weapons will be used in the third world war, assuming there will be a third world war. But I can tell you what the fourth world war will be fought with: stone clubs.” – Albert Einstein

Chapters Closing Its Doors in Downtown Montreal

Chapters, the famous book retailer and a landmark for every book reader in Montreal for decades, is now closing its doors. It’s a very sad move, but it is not surprising. After all, most people who buy books are buying their books online and they’re increasingly buying them in a digital format, and most people who used to buy books are now busy on social websites spreading rumors or gambling spending their dollars playing candy crush and other nonsense on their mobile phones.

Other than the changing habits of its clientele, Chapters is closing its doors in downtown Montreal because of three other reasons:

1. Its physical proximity to the retail store of its parent, Indigo.
2. The skyrocketing rent and heating bills in Montreal (we’re talking about $400k/month for its four storey building).
3. Most books written nowadays are sci-fi trash and/or written by authors who can’t even write (the problem is that nowadays everyone thinks of himself/herself as an author/editor/composer/performer/etc…)

So, what’s with the Einstein quotes in the beginning of this post? Well, it seems that this prediction may very well come to being realized. If all our books become online, and if the online world, for one reason or another, disappears (you can use your own imagination on how it can disappear), then we will lose the tens of thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, it’ll be like burning the library of Alexandria all over again, but exponentially more harmful to the human civilization.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

September 17, 2014 | In: Opinion

Are Hybrid Cars Really Worth It?

If you’re shopping for a new car, then you might be tempted to buy a hybrid car. You know, instead of the 8 liters/100km average fuel consumption, you will get 5 liters/100km. That’s about 40% savings in gas! Assuming that you drive the average 16,000 KM/year (10,000 miles) and at the price of $16 per 20 liters for gas (or 3 dollars/gallon – which is already the gas price in some US states and the predicted gas price this fall), then this means that you will be spending $1,024 for a non-hybrid card/year vs $640 for a hybrid car. You’ll be saving about $400 every year! Wow! You should go and lease/buy yourself a hybrid car right now! Right?

Well, not so fast! Hybrid cards are usually $8k more expensive than non-hybrid cars, which means that if you’re leasing the car for 48 months, then you will be paying about 55% of that 8k in your lease, which means that you will be paying about $4,400 for the lease term. Assuming the lease rate is 0% (which is rare), then your lease will be costing you around $1,100 year extra! So, the savings of $400 every year will translate to an extra payment of $700 every year! $700 that you can use to go to exciting places or slightly enhance your lifestyle.

But, what if you’re buying the car? Well, actually, it gets worse, since you will need to replace the batteries of a hybrid car every 6 years or so, and, as you might have probably guessed, these batteries are not cheap. In fact, they cost about $6k for a small hybrid, so you’ll have to pay $6k every 6 years, which means $1k every year. Yes, that’s an additional $1k/year to own a liability.

One last thing to mention, driving a hybrid car is not a very enjoyable experience, especially if you like driving. Oh, and hybrid cars are not environmentally friendly at all. In fact, those batteries are much more harmful to the environment than all that gas you could have spent.

I think hybrid cars, the way they are right now, are not worth it and are actually more costly on the short term or the long term. If you have been suckered into thinking otherwise, then all I can say to you is tough luck!

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

If there is one stock I wish I had bought a long time ago, it is 3M (NYSE:MMM). Since the huge dip in 2009, the stock has seen nearly a 300% increase, which is comparable to the best performing stocks in the market.

What makes this stock very attractive is that it’s consistent. It doesn’t fluctuate a lot and the trend is nearly always up. It’s also a very old stock (the company became public in 1978) and 3M itself (which is best known to the public for its now obsolete sticky notes) is a very diversified company. Their products cover healthcare, transportation, communications, security, graphics, etc…. I didn’t know that 3M was that diversified until I researched it prior to writing this post.

Currently, 3M is trading at a forward P/E ratio of 20, which is excellent for this type of companies. Its market capitalization is currently set at $93 billion.

I think the prospects of 3M are very bright and I think that one needs to consider this stock in his long term portfolio. This stock nearly doubles in value every 5 years! Better than the best of investments!

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

August 31, 2014 | In: Opinion

Why the BBB Is Useless

Many shoppers online think that a business that has the BBB (Better Business Bureau) seal is a business that is trustworthy, but, as I will explain in this post, a BBB seal on a website is worthless. Why, you make ask?

Well, simply because of BBB’s business model: its clients are the same companies that people may want to rank unfavorably. You see, the BBB only ranks and publishes reviews of its clients. Let me explain a bit more how things work:

  • You, as a business, buy a “subscription” from the BBB.

  • The BBB will list you as a BBB member and will allow you to put a seal on your website with a link to a dedicated page (for your business on their website).

  • If a customer has any complaint about your business, then he will complain to the BBB (by the way, the BBB is a for-profit non-governmental business; the government has nothing to do with it).

  • The BBB verifies and registers the complaint and tries to resolve it with you as soon as possible.

  • If you don’t comply, then the BBB will remove you off their list.

All the above is fine and dandy, except that the last step typically never happens, because, as a customers, you can just leave and the whole issue will be gone. Which means it is not in the BBB’s best interest to let you go, they just want your money. So, they might come up with creative ways to resolve the issue without taking into consideration the best interest of your dissatisfied client.

Yes, the BBB will add a certain trustworthiness to your business, but it is undeserved, because that trustworthiness is literally bought and never earned.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Yesterday, while waiting in line to pay here at Target here in downtown Montreal, I heard the lady at the cash telling someone that they do not accept American Express cards. It wasn’t the first time I heard that – and I’m sure that’s the same for many others here in North America. It seems that American Express is not welcome at many locations, offline and online. So why is that?

Well, there a few reasons for this:

  1. American Express’ discount rates are very high: Their fees are significantly higher than those of Visa and MasterCard. In fact, they take about 3% to 4% of the whole transaction, compare that to the other major credit card companies, which take anything between 1.9% an 2.9% (note that the discount rate of any credit card company is inversely proportional to the volume of the sales). Retailers, especially large ones which have very small profit margins, cannot afford to pay that much money to process their transactions. In fact, here in Montreal, the only places that would accept American Express are fancy restaurants and art galleries, because they both have a huge profit margin, and they don’t care about paying that extra 1% to the payment processor to get more sales. By the way, and in case you’re wondering, the reason why Amex’s discount rate is very high compared to its peers in the industry is because of all the rewards and perks that Amex customers enjoy.

  2. They take ages to payout merchants: Well, not really ages, but a transaction processed through Amex can take up to a week to be credited to the merchant’s account – compare that to the 1 business day it takes for a transaction to be credited if processed through Visa or MasterCard.

  3. They’re not the greatest when it comes to chargebacks: If a customer reverses a charge (chargebacks) through Amex, then they will instantly reverse the transaction by debiting the money from the merchant’s account (though they won’t immediately credit back the customer). Reversing a chargeback is a nightmare (even if the customer consents that he chargebacked when he shouldn’t) and can take up to 6 months.

The above are the main reasons why American Express is not accepted in many places. What’s odd is that American Express seem that they couldn’t care less about it, probably because they think of themselves as an exclusive club. In my opinion, they’re not even remotely exclusive; I remember that it took them 4 years to understand that I was not even slightly interested in their services (they kept sending me those “you’re pre-approved” mails).

Now, for all of us doubting American Express’ strategy, let’s take a look at their stock: American Express (NYSE:AXP) dropped 2.87% so far this year. For that same period, Visa (NYSE:V) dropped 3.45%, and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) dropped a disastrous 8.55%. Who’s laughing now?

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

There was an article on LinkedIn that was published last Friday that praised Indro Nooyi’s guidance of PepsiCo and claimed that Indra is considered to be the best hire in the last 100 years.

Now I have searched and searched for a single reference that confirmed the 100 year thing – but I found nothing. Even if such a reference existed, I don’t understand who ranks people as best hires in the last 100 years (100 years? really?) or best CEOs or best whatever. The financial performance of any public company can be easily verified. Mrs. Indra became CEO of Pepsico on October 1st, 2006. From October 1st, 2006 until Friday’s afternoon, Pepsico’s stock (NYSE:PEP) increased by 35.01%. Coca Cola’s stock (NYSE:KO), on the other hand, increased by 75.87%. Conversely, from January 2nd, 1998 to September 29, 2006 (8 years prior to Mrs. Indra becoming Pepsico’s CEO), Pepsico’s stock has increased by a staggering 87.80%, while Coca Cola’s stock has decreased by 30.59% (Source: Google Finance)

Clearly, Pepsico was much better off without Mrs. Indra at the helm.

Please, LinkedIn authors stop with the propaganda and the blatant advertising for your favorite CEO. We can all do our research to verify your (usually false) claims.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I love Target. I do a lot of shopping there and I’m really happy that they opened, late last year, a decent branch in downtown Montreal. I have to admit that I love Target more than FutureShop. But why?

Well, the first thing that is great about Target is the customer service. FutureShop employees will not even go near you if they think they won’t make a commission out of you, that’s not the same about Target. They’re really, really good, and they don’t pressure you to buy anything. They’re happy that you’re there but they just don’t force you to buy.

Additionally, you can always find a Target employee to help you, and if you can’t find one, then there’s some sort of buzzer that you can press and within a maximum of 2 minutes, someone will be there to help you. Compare that to Canadian Tire (a retailer that I really don’t like – by the way, probably the only 2 things that Canadian Tire has that are actually made in Canada are seeds and rubber boots) where you have to wait nearly 15 minutes for someone to help you.

The last thing that I want to mention about their customer support is that they’re very knowledgeable and very friendly. It’s unbelievable, it’s like being in Canada in the 1950′s. Seriously. You get the feeling that they love their jobs, that they have a cause to make Target better, unlike other retailers where you feel that the only reason the employees are working for them is because they can’t find better jobs.

Price matching is also a breeze with Target, you just have to tell them that the item is selling less for another major retailer and they’ll check it themselves. They won’t ask you for a printout, they’ll check it themselves. Some retailers are really mean about price matching but not Target. Target’s price matching is so good that the retailer is constantly abused by many of its customers: these customers bring brochures from a remote province and price-match it with Target. A hypothetical example (that can be true in real life) is a customer living in Cape Spear, claiming that he found the toothbrush of his dreams selling for $2.99 at a small retailer in Vancouver. Of course, the customer is deliberately oblivious that it’ll probably cost another $2.99 to ship that toothbrush from Vancouver to his home on Cape Spear. Target, until very recently, had no problem price-matching that toothbrush, but they have introduced a new policy in past few days that will restrict price matching to local major retailers, which means that the Vancouver to Cape Spear trick will no longer work anymore.

Cheap prices is another reason why I love Target. They have rotating offers on many hot-selling items (some of them are technology items) and they do offer rain checks if you can’t find the item. By the way, what I find very interesting and courteous from Target is that when they run out of a certain item, they place rain checks over the price tag of that item. How cool is that?

Now, if you live in Canada, you probably know by now that it’s really hard to find a retailer with a clean floor, especially during winter. That’s not the case with Target, the floor is so clean that you can literally see yourself in it, and the whole place smells very good, despite the fact that they have a food section.

The last thing I love about Target is the variety – they really have everything, and what they have is usually of better quality than many other retailers.

I hope that Target keeps growing here in Canada, maybe other retailers will notice that and start working on themselves. By the way, Target (NYSE:TGT) is down around 14.5% so far this year. I’m sure though that Target would be an excellent investment over the long term. You can beat good prices, but you can’t beat excellent customer service, and that’s what’s Target is all about.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Page 1 of 4712345678910203040...Last »