Posts filed under “Corporate Management”

What Does Wal-Mart’s Prescription Drug Plan Mean?

Retailing giant Wal-Mart announced a new program that will offer consumers $4 prescriptions for generic drugs (you can see the full list here: WMT-druglist).

Several commentators have already pooh poohed this as a mere publicity stunt in an election year.

WalGreens and CVS and and other pharmacies have gotten shellacked on
the news — as well they should (Target was relatively unchanged, while
Rite Aid has been a disaster for too long to remember). Wal-Mart
crushed many of the inefficient or simply "less efficient" supermarkets
when they moved into food retailing — I would expect they could have a
similar impact here.

In addition to selling this as a retail loss leader, I wouldn’t be suprised if Wal-Mart rolled out a targeted program for certain corporate health care providers — think either GM or Ford. It would be nice if someohow GM or Ford could lop off a few $100 from the cost of manufacturing each vehicle.

And given Wal-Mart’s heft, this could very easily have a significant impact on the entire health care system in the United States.

The program will be launched tomorrow starting in 65 stores (Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club pharmacies) in
Tampa Bay, Florida; It will expand statewide  area, and will be expanded to the entire state in January 2007, and expanded nationwide later in the year.

Key components (via WMT’s press release) include:

$4 pricing will be available to
all pharmacy customers with a doctor’s prescription that can be filled via generic.

This program will be available to the uninsured; Insurance will
be accepted.

The program presently covers 291 generic medications from
many of the most common therapeutic categories.

The medicines
represented are used to treat and manage conditions including allergies,
cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes; Some
antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics and prescription vitamins are also
included.

Fascinating stuff . . .

Source:
Wal-Mart Tests in Florida Its $4 Generic-Drug Plan
WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE NEWS ROUNDUP
September 21, 2006 12:49 p.m.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115884220108069974.html

Category: Consumer Spending, Corporate Management, Economy, Politics, Psychology

Zune, Microsoft and Corporate Culture

What do you think of the new Zune?

That question led to fascinating discussion about Microsoft on Thursday. What they do, how they work, brainstorm, etc. It also covered how Microsoft develops new products (notice I didn’t say innovate).

Zuneofficial_1
A few quick thoughts on the Zune: The coolest thing is its owners ability to zap songs back and forth via a Wi-Fi
connection — but those songs expire after "three plays or three days, whichever
comes first," which is kinda poor. The 3 inch screen versus the 2.5 inch on the iPod also looks pretty nice. Other than that, its not a particularly compelling piece of hardware.

Brown? How long til that gets cancelled? 

We don’t know the price yet, but I expect it to be in the $249 – 349 range, and a function of how much MSFT is willing to lose/subsidize each unit.

What I found most fascinating about "This Week in Microsoft" were the 3 separate products that leaked out over the past few days:

• The Zune iPod challenger (in classic "steal the other guys thunder" following Apple’s event)

Soapbox: The Microsoft YouTube Clone;

Live: The Microsoft Google challenger;

Let’s get a few things straight about Mister Softee. First, forget all the chatter coming from Redmond about innovation. They are now and have always been uttery shameless copycats. They do not innovate; They do not create cool products; They are boring code writing cubicle dwelling drones — and that’s what they should be.

The second thing you need to know about Microsoft: They print money like they were a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department.

That is the bottom line for investors, and the cash ain’t coming from all these other products attempting to recapture lighting in a bottle. Its Windows 1st, Office 2nd, and then a big 4 way tie for SQL, Hardware (mouses etc.) Server SW, and then everything else. All these other products — including Xbox, hotmail, MSN, etc. — are what happens when you have more money than God and still want to be one of the cool kids.

And, they’d probably get just as much criticism if they didn’t make all these attempts at imitating other successful innovators. Otherwise, they would just be a mature company milking their monopoly products until the next paradigm shift came along.

Understand my complaint about Redmond: I don’t begudge them these many attempts to stay relevant and hip, to keep pressing buttons until they find the next thing that works. Hey, after you become one of the most successful firms in the history of Capitalism, it becomes hard to repeat that performance every quarter.

I’m just tired of the bullshit about all their terrific innovations (Spare me the techno-babble about multithreading processors or dynamic ram usage).

To understand how Microsoft got to be the "innovator" it is today, you need to have some background into the psychology of its leadership. My favorite example comes via Robert Cringely

If there is a reason, it has to come from the competitive nature of Bill
Gates as Microsoft’s spiritual and ethical leader. Everything is a competition
to Bill, and every competition has a winner and a loser. Microsoft people have
always been encouraged to see the game, not the consequences, and to win the
game even if winning this way makes no sense.

Let me give an example of this behavior. In the early days of Microsoft, one
of the popular games was to see how late the boys could leave work for the
airport and still make their flights. These weren’t people who were habitually
late, they were playing a game. The eventual winner was Bill Gates, of course,
but to win he had to abandon his car [a new Porsche 911] at the departures curb.

Tht pretty much says it all. They are competitive to a fault — its in their DNA. Its also why they have been such a vast money machine. But please: Spare us the sanctimonious garbage about Microsoft the innovator, and keep the focus on Microsoft the moneymaker.

Here’s some more recent ideas out of the innovation factory:

Soapbox: The next YouTube?
Msnsoapboxshot

 

MSN Live: Where ever did they get the idea for that interface?
Live

Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Film, Music, Technology

R&D: The current state of affairs

Category: Corporate Management, Earnings, Venture Capital, Web/Tech

About Those Earnings . . .

Category: Corporate Management, Data Analysis, Earnings, Energy

White House Medicare Accounting Tricks

Category: Corporate Management, Politics, Taxes and Policy

Hey Ballmer! Why yank the leaked videos ?

Category: Corporate Management, Film, Web/Tech

Google’s Problem: What to do with all that cash?

Category: Corporate Management, Earnings, Web/Tech

Google Sellers Aplenty

Category: Corporate Management, Investing, Technical Analysis

Five phrases that signal a fund manager is covering up

Category: Corporate Management, Investing, Rules

Vista testers warn Microsoft about deadline

Category: Corporate Management, Earnings, Web/Tech