iFive: LG’s Cell Phone Woes, Best Buy’s iPad Sales, China’s Car Extortion, Foursquare for Unis, Groupon’s Sketchiness

Today’s news, newly minted, and polished up bright as a new pin for your delectation.

As you check in to your kitchen to munch on breakfast, then head to the office, checking in to the coffee shop en route, ponder this news from Footprint Feed about geofencing your checkins: Will you ever need to manually log in to claim your mayoralty again? And will the privacy issues even worry you a jot?


1. LG’s not doing well in the mobile phone business, and its head guy has just taken the fall. Nam Yong has resigned, noting that it’s a response to the poor sales LG has seen in the market sector. He’s the most recent senior guy in the cell phone industry to lose his position, after Nokia’s management disasters: Both firms’ positions in the important smartphone game are suffering at the hands of the iPhone and other maker’s successful Android units. The head of LG’s International trading firm is replacing Yong, and the markets seemed pleased–bumping LG’s price by nearly 5%, its greatest gain in six months. Are these management failings a big “shape-up or ship-out” signal to the rest of the cell phone industry?

2. Best Buy’s CEO is being misquoted in the media, but his message is nonetheless worth paying attention to. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal Brian Dunn noted internal measures in his store had shown “up to 50%” cannibalization of laptop sales by the iPad. Are shoppers really so keen on Apple’s wonderPad that they’re choosing it over traditional laptops? Not necessarily: We know iPad numbers have been scarce until recently, and Best Buy’s certainly not been getting the lion’s share of supply and has only been offering it in a limited number of stores, so to imagine its spartan stock has been impacting 50% of iPad sales is a stretch. But what Dunn is really mentioning is a trajectory. Now iPad manufacturing has stepped up, holiday season is soon to hove into view, and Best Buy’s entire store list will be selling ’em from late September, the iPad sales will definitely begin to seriously bite into laptop sales. Apple’s changed yet another industry.

3. Will entry into China’s lucrative auto market cost interested Western firms some of their electric car technology trade secrets and a huge share of any potential profits? This is a hot rumor being stirred up at the WSJ which quotes “executives at four foreign car companies” who are familiar with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s plans. The Ministry is reported to require companies to enter into forced joint ventures with a minority stake as well as hand over key technology clues so China’s own companies can make the most of them–without innovating themselves. It’s a cunning tactic, amounting to state-level extortion, and it’s one we’ve seen before with Russia’s law-flouting extra levies on imported GPS tech, with the money used to further its own state-supported location systems.

4. Foursquare has just launched a new feature that seems to take a leaf out of Facebook’s oldest book: Foursquare for Universities. The idea is to get colleges involved by touting the location-based “tips” they can dot around campus, as well as enhanced buy-in and engagement with their students, and for students it’ll be all about the gamesmanship of Foursquare, special offers at campus venues and finding out about entertainment. Foursquare, of course, will clean up by being able to sell highly targeted advertising. Neatness all ’round.

5. Finally Groupon is in a spot of PR bother, after an Atlanta-based photographer promoted a coupon sales deal with someone else’s imagery, and then couldn’t follow through on the deals promises to all her newly interested customers. Was this a case of one bad apple? Should Groupon have checks and balances in place to not let its own customers fall into these traps? Big questions left unanswered.

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