The Return of Furby’s

Furby’s were the must have toy when they surfaced around 1998. In 2011, eleven years after the Furby stopped being made, Hasbro was thinking up the Next Big Toy for the upcoming years and after much consumer research and focus groups, the decision was in the reboot the 90s class of the Furby.  The toy that has the ability to change personality by the way the user interacts with it.  Looking back, this gremlin-like toy is probably one of the most terrifying things to give a child, but as the world will have it, Hasbro is recreating the toy for the new younger generation.  Wal-Mart and Toys R’ Us have both put the new and improved Furby on their Must-Have lists for the upcoming holiday season.

New vs. Old

To modernize the Furby, the product designers are connecting the concept of a Furby with the “app toys” that will interchangeable work with Android and Apple devices by way of an app to connect that so many children are playing with these tech devices.  The Furby isn’t the only toy redesign Hasbro is working on.  They have a number of on going projects to retarget their toys to correspond with a higher tech level so they are more desirable to children.

An interesting thing to consider is that the Furby was introduced in 1998 and quickly went through the product cycle until the cease of manufacturing in 2000.  Furby’s could definitely fall under the category of all the other “fad” toys that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s that were always the must have toys of the season.

In class, we learned about the product lifecycle and how all products go through an introduction, growth, maturity and decline.  There is no doubt that the original Furby is well into the decline stage because Hasbro stopped making them in 2000.  Because most children who had a Furby in their childhood are now somewhat grown up, Hasbro is able to reintroduce a newly designed Furby into the market to restart in the introduction stage of the product lifecycle.  However, the new market of children is not the only one being targeted.  Hasbro is also marketing to people in 20-year range as a retro toy, even though they are completely redesigned.  The new Furby was released this fall so it will be interesting to see if the product skips the growth stage all together and goes from introduction to maturity because the company has been through the stages of growth such as standardization with the earlier model.

 Do you think it was a good idea for Hasbro to recreate the extremely profitable toy from the 90s?  If any of you had Furby’s when you were younger, would you consider buying this newly designed Furby?  Do you think that the Furby has a chance to make its way fully through the product life cycle once again?



Hold on to your Seats!!! We’re Going Down!!




If the airline industry can’t properly maintain the inside of a plane, how can we trust them to take care of the outside of the plane?


Recent financial troubles have not been the only source of difficulties for American Airlines.  The airline is now experiencing complications with their seats.  “A Boeing 757 from Boston to Miami carrying 175 passengers diverted to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday when three seats in row 12 came loose shortly after takeoff.  A second American Boeing 757 returned to JFK on Monday morning after a similar seat issue was discovered” (CNN).  This kind of quality oversight could be the straw the broke the camel’s back for American Airlines.

Initial claims pointed at the saddle clamp “improperly installed on the foot of the row leg” (CNN).  Due to this improper diagnosis, American Airlines inspected a total of 47 Boing 757 Airplanes that were using this type of clamp.  Through this inspection, American Airlines found “that six — including the two involved in the recent diversions — had seats that were not properly secured” (CNN).  It was later discovered that the clamps were not the source of the problem.  Even though this problem was misdiagnosed, it led to a discovery of improper equipment.  Would the faulty equipment been discovered if the problem was diagnosed correctly the first time?   Or did this error lead to a great deal of lost revenue, time, and labor.  These are the types of things that are not in excess for a company dealing with bankruptcy.

The financial implications of mismanaged time and resources are pretty severe for a company with major financial woes.  American Airlines had to ground almost 50 of their Boeing 757 planes.  This is on top of the problem American Airlines is having with their labor force.  American Airlines is in a difficult battle with their pilots union.  The airline suspects that pilots have been filing frivolous reports to cause massive slowdowns.  This slowdown is composed of 12,000 delays and 1000 canceled flights within the month of September.  The question here is whether or not the pilots have been leveraging false safety concerns to improve their union position.  Regardless of the validity of these claims, the airline must address each concern to avoid an even bigger situation.   Being a major airline, American Airlines must deal with problems coming from all directions.  Not only must American Airlines worry about the problems of their own employees, they must also worry about their manufacturers and the partners of their manufacturers.

More and more companies work with various manufacturers to supply them with the parts and pieces required to complete their final product.  It is almost impossible to find a major manufacturer that creates all of the pieces in house that are needed to complete an intricate product.  Many reach out to other manufacturers that specialize in that specific part/piece.  With all of these various pieces, it is very difficult to insure the quality of every one of these different parts.

The seats in question were manufactured by Weber Aircraft.  This Texas based company “manufactured the seats for American’s 757 planes, also made seats for 25 other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Korean Air Lines”(Martin 2012).  To prevent future problems and issues, the FAA has essentially demanded that the various airlines rigorously inspect their planes using the 11 Weber seat models.  Over time we have learned that in this global economy it is necessary to make manufacturing partnerships.  However, in this case, it is evident that there is a complete lack of quality management.  How can an industry with so many moving parts avoid situations like this?,0,5493337.story

Shell or Shock? Possible Redesign of Toyota Prius

Toyota Motor Company is considering a complete redesign of its iconic economy car, the Prius. After 15 years in production, with only very subtle design changes as seen in the design evolution pictures below. It would be a big risk for Toyota to drastically change the proven design of the Prius, but it could also open it to a large new consumer base. Since its original debut in 1997, the Prius has epitomized the movement towards environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles that run on both gasoline and electricity. The Prius has experienced record sales in 2012, with sales increasing 60 percent over last year.  The main driving factor for the possible shift to a new design is to move away from the awkward shell type platform that has reigned since its initial debut. Although the shell is an incredibly aerodynamic style, it has traditionally been seen as something of a “geek mobile” and was often ostracized by most car enthusiasts.  By shifting to a more generally appreciated design, Toyota would see its target market grow substantially, since most car buyers are always looking for the best mix of fuel economy and design appeal.

It is slightly surprising that Toyota is considering such a drastic redesign, since it is currently in the growth stage of the product life cycle. As stated in class, the growth stage is when a manufacturer needs to focus on competitive product improvements, which are needed to help it stay current with the recent  introduction of new competitors such as Ford, and the continuing rivalry with Honda. However, Toyota Prius has managed to follow one characteristic of  the  product life cycle, and that is to enhance distribution and capacity. It has managed to increase capacity from only a few thousand units in its initial introduction, to nearly 700,000 through only the first 9 months of this year. By designing a new generation of Prius to appeal to more style conscious consumers, Toyota may end up gouging its current market, since many of the current buyers appreciate the iconic shell shape. At this point it is impossible to predict the exact fate of the Prius, since the new design has yet to be finalized. However the question arises of what possible design attributes can Toyota maintain from the current model to retain current customers, and what can they change to help attract new buyers?



First Time for Everything: NYC Marathon Cancelled

Due to the horrific damage that Hurricane Sandy has done to New York this past week, ING, the marathon’s leading sponsor since 2003, has been forced by the city of New York to cancel the long-awaited marathon that has held over 40,000 runners and 500 sponsors every year since it began. This will be the first time that the marathon has been canceled in over 70 years and has caused outrage among sponsors and consumers alike.

Although ING was originally planning on continuing to have the marathon even with the unbelievable damage that New York has experienced, public outcry about the unethical issues that ING as well as other sponsors are getting themselves into by ignoring the hurricane’s damage and continuing the marathon has been abundant. Because of this, ING has been forced to cancel the marathon and has put itself in a sticky situation when it comes to the revenue and promotion they and other sponsors will be losing because of it.

As we learned in class, the project triangle consists of time, cost, and performance. The time it took to plan a New York City Marathon is over a full year. The cost to get the over 500 sponsors to sponsor the event is over 1 million dollars, and performance is based on how smoothly the marathon runs. With these three contributing factors as well as many others, I understand why ING was hesitant to cancel the NYC marathon, but understand why the public was outraged as well. The amount of money and planning that went into making the NYC marathon what it is every year means that a lot of people are counting on it, and I believe this is why ING was reluctant to cancel it right away.

Furthermore, in a desperate final effort to save themselves from looking unethical, ING decided to donate $500,000 dollars to aid victims of the hurricane, and donate the generators that were going to be set up around the marathon for the runners, to the millions of people who need help in New York. While this was the right decision, thousands of runners, both from the U.S. and internationally, who have been training for this marathon for over a year, are devestated and feel disrepected that they were told about the cancellation last minute. As customers of the marathon for a number of years, the customer expectation for most of the runners is that they would be running no mater what.

Overall, I believe that this was the right decision to make and while people are still so angry at ING for not canceling it right away, I understand why ING didn’t.

How do you think this will affect ING’s future revenue? Do you think ING made the ethical choice to cancel the marathon? What would you do as president of ING to please both the runners and the people of New york that were affected by the storm?

Colorblind : Does Color Really Matter?



Apple has finally announced their iPad Mini. It’s set to be available for sale on November 2nd, with pre-orders starting October 25th. It’s 7.2 mm thick and weighs just 308 mg, but still has the same size screen as the iPad 2.  It features two cameras, a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front camera.

A day after it was made available for pre-order, the Chicago Tribune released an article stating that the white iPad mini has been sold out. As we all know, all Apple products come in two colors, white and black, leaving only black iPad minis available for pre-order. The expected shipping date for the white has been set to two weeks while the black is still available to ship out November 2nd.

So, why is it that something so simple as color makes such a big difference in sales? Being black or white has no impact on the function or the performance of the product. I have seen many instances where the color of the product was made out to be just as important as its performance. There are some car models, clothing items, and other products that are priced differently due to color as well. One retail store I used to work at always priced clothes that were black more than other colors.

Even for me, I find myself being more attracted to white Apple products. My iPhone, iPad 2 , and iPod are all white. I think they look more feminine and pretty compared to the black. I have many friends that have chosen their phones and other Apple products based on color.

So tell me, does color really matter? How big of a role does color design of products play in your decision making? Would you wait for more of the white iPad minis to be available or just purchase the black model and receive it on time?,0,4979541.story

King of the Hill? Is Apple in Trouble?

Another day, another keynote by the great folks at Apple. It seems that this company continues to release products that are absolutely “magical”; but are they really?

On October 23, 2012 Apple released the iPad mini along with a slew of other products (13inch Retina MacBook Pro, updated Mac Mini, updated iMac) with a hoorah from the majority of the tech bloggers.  The iPad features a sleek new design incorporating a 7.9-inch screen packed into a lightweight chassis with incredibly slim bezel. This produces a beautiful product that will surely sell like hot cakes.

So what is the issue? Competition! Unlike the original 10inch iPad, the iPad mini launches into a market with some serious competition. The iPad mini has to contend with the likes of the Nexus 7 by Asus and the Kindle Fire HD by Amazon. On paper the competition sport much better specs and price points.


Most tend to agree the screen is the most important component of a tablet. Apple prides itself on producing products with screens that are the highest quality to produce the most like life images. Well if that is a fact, the iPad mini does not fit the bill. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD feature higher pixel density (216 PPI vs 163 PPI) that theoretically should produce a much higher quality images. That fact alone should make the iPad Mini a flop.

The second specification that many tend to focus on when buying a new device is the processing speed of the device. You guessed it the iPad mini falls short in this category. It uses Apple’s A5 chip employed in the iPad way back in 2011 unlike the competition that uses the latest quad-core chip by Nvidia – the Targa 3.

Third and probably the most important – price. The iPad mini is priced a full $130 higher then the more powerful competition. This will surely turn away some consumers.

Are we seeing the demise of Apple? Is apple slipping on the design of goods? Will Apple be the next Sony? Many Apple fans will argue that specs do not matter and I tend to agree. All the specs above do not necessarily mean anything if the device looks beautiful and functions as it should. The issue arises when the early adopters become disappointed with the products Apple releases. This is what I’m afraid is going on with the iPad Mini. Many tech writers and die-hard Apple geeks are absolutely disappointed with the specs and price point of the iPad Mini. What I am afraid of is there early adopters will spread their disappointment to the early and late majority of customers and hurt sales.


What do you think? Is Apple in trouble?

What kind of tablet would you like for Christmas? Maybe a Nook?


As more and more people have begun to steer away from physical books to e-books, e-readers and tablets have begun to establish themselves as the next big product. Barnes & Noble entered into the Tablet industry with its first tablet, the Nook Tablet, last November in order to compete with Apple’s iPad and as well as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. With this introduction of the Nook HD, Barnes & Nobles has begun the phasing out of its previous tablets, the Nook Tablet and Nook Color. This new design, which introduces an upgrade in hardware and software, comes in two different sizes, one with a 7-inch screen and the other with a 9-inch screen. This has come on the brink of Amazon’s announcement for four new varieties of its Kindle which also offers larger screens to compete with the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen.

In order to compete with the offerings of its main competitor, Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble has also introduced a new video service in conjunction with major television and movie studios like Warner Brothers and HBO to allow its users to watch and buy movies and televisions shows on their mobile devices and TVs. Amazon currently offers more services which include a larger app store and video library as well as also providing its customers with its huge product offerings. However, due to the constant threat of Amazon’s online retail operations, retailers like Wal-Mart and Target refuse to carry the Kindle which allows for more opportunity for the Nook to be reached by possible consumers without the extra competition of the Kindle.

The tablet category has seen rapid expansion with many competitors entering the industry. According to Forrester Research, approximately one-third of U.S. adults will own some form of a tablet by 2016. That doesn’t even account for the amount of families that own multiple tablets for their children to use. So for Christmas, which kind of tablet would you like? Is it possible that the cheaper prices of the Nook and the Kindle can sway even more consumers towards it rather than going for an iPad?


Should we look back to the past or walk forward?

On our third and fourth week of classes, I found learning about the precedence diagram, business strategy, and forecasting extremely interesting and helpful. In one of my school organizations, I work with a team to plan several cultural events per semester; and a problem we had last year was that we had to cram many tasks a week before the big event. Also, we planned for 400 people when only about 250 actually attended. I believe learning about these operational components will help me better plan for events this year.

 As the precedence diagram, business strategy, and forecasting relate to the general idea of having a business plan, I found an article on ‘’ that seems to disagree with having a business plan at all. The article, “Bob Dorf: Throw Out The Business Plan”, talks about a “serial entrepreneur” who gives a speech about business plans being all fiction. He believes that time and money should not be spent on forecasting the number of customers a new start-up business will have because these forecasts are never right. Instead, businesses should spend their time and money on gathering “aggressive feedback” to truly understand whether a product would or would not sell. A start-up team should have members falling into one of the three categories: the hackers, hustlers, and artists. The hackers are for coding, hustlers for gathering feedback, and artists for designing graphics.

 In my opinion, I do agree that sometimes forecasts can be extremely off; however, I also believe that there is no harm to having predictions. Forecasting allows you to set prices, deadlines, and goals to reach. With this, I do not disagree with his advice. Aggressive feedback should be taken and I like the three categories he’s created. In another post that I have commented on, I learned the importance of product design and how it suades the decision of a consumer.

 Should a company have a business plan? Should a business look at past data to forecast or possible future data through feedback?



iPad’s Little Brother

Apple Inc., one of the world’s largest innovators, has, once again, announced the launch of a new product: a smaller version of their best-selling iPad Tablet. Once again, early adopters and loyal customers flock to see the newest hype that the company has to offer.

After being under the scope of the public for their iPad, Apple Inc. has decided to take on the challenge of creating a product that can compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Google’s Nexus 7, and others. Previously, many customers had complained that the iPad itself was very large and heavy compared to its competitors., as well as being very costly. Although Apple has not commented about any specific features about the product itself, many excited and loyal Apple customers have come up with their own list of potential features and rumors of production that Apple may consider when creating the mini iPad since the company is known to put customer satisfaction at the top of their priorities.

First, a “major Apple investor” has publicly claimed that the iPad mini will be unveiled on October 17th, 2012 and that the official launch date of product will be November 2nd, 2012, which gives customers plenty of time to obtain the new creation for the upcoming holiday season.

Second, rumor has it that the iPad mini will have a 7.85 inch liquid crystal display (LCD) with a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution, although the screen will not have the same retina display of the original sized iPad. This may be to simply keep the cost of the product lower and more affordable to the public.

Since the cost in the market is a major driving factor behind this new product, there has been some speculation that the cost and price was also very important to Apple. There were many concerns that the iPad was priced too high for many people, which is why Apple decided to come out with a newer, more cost effective alternative for those people who do not want to spend $399-$499 on the iPad. Instead, it is expected that the iPad mini will retail for about $249, which is slightly higher than the prices of its major competitors.

Along with the rumors of its features and displays, there have been some claims that people have obtained leaked photos of the final product. Some of the physical attributes that can be seen in the final product are:

  • Wi-Fi adaption
  • nano SIM tray for cellular connectivity (thought to be for a pricier model)
  • An 8-pin “Lightning” connector found
  • A microphone jack in the same upperleft corner as current iPads
  • Aluminum backing
  • volume buttons on the right side of the tablet with a switch
  • rear-facing camera
  • two speaker grilles at the bottom

The last major rumor about the iPad mini is the location of production. Although nothing has been confirmed by Apple, production has been thought to be in China and Brazil.


Potential leaked photo of the new iPad mini

More information about can be found at

Will YOU give it a shot?

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Starbucks is currently in the midst of launching their newest product, the Verismo single-cup espresso based beverage machine. The Verismo has unique pods that contain coffee and milk, and when used together, can product a latte. This machine has a unique new sleek style, to better fit on top of a kitchen counter, and is also capable of making shots of expresso. This machine is going to be sold at high- end kitchen good stores such as Sur La Table, and Williams Sonoma, as well as in select Starbucks locations. It will be priced at $199 and and the larger version will be priced at $399.

Previous data has shown in the last year only 4% of coffee makers made a profit from selling espresso machines. This means starbucks is taking a large risk entering the espresso machine market. Chief Executive, Howard Schultz, stated in his most recent interview that Starbucks is making a bet with this new machine.

So, with last year espresso machine sales at a mere 4%, and the Chief Executive officer admitting that this is a big risk, why would Starbucks enter into this market? Well, I believe we can look at Chapter 12, regarding Operations and strategy in a global environment, for some answers. Starbucks has one of the most, if not THE most crucial advantage over competitors; Starbucks has brand recognition. Starbucks differentiates themselves from other coffee shops because they provide an “experience”, which sets them apart from the rest of the many places you can get a cup of coffee. But, their newest product launch had nothing to do with this in store “experience”, rather, it is about bringing Starbucks “experience” into your own home. The competitive advantage is about differentiation, cost leadership, and response. Starbucks new Verismo machine touches upon all three, with a strong emphasis on differentiation because there are currently are no other machines like it on the market. According to our book,Competing on differentiation means, “the uniqueness can go beyond both the physical characteristics and service attributes to encompass everything that impacts the customer’s perception of value- and in this case, the Starbucks customer values their own time, their coffe, and their loyalty to the brand itself.

I think this coffee maker will be successful? Will it be a positive thing for Starbucks?

What strategies and data do you think Starbucks is using to make sure sales of this machine are successful?

The operations managers job is to provide competitive advantage and increase productivity… Do you think the OM Manager is doing this in this instance?