Monopoly ditches cash, goes plastic Posted Jul 24th 2006 9:55PM by Darren Murph Filed under: Household While Monopoly is the paragon of good 'ole fashioned board game fun, the "old fashioned" part had to go. Parker Brothers is phasing out the cash-based version's funmoney and replacing it with an "Electronic Banking" flavor that could leave Mr. Moneybags turning his pockets inside out as his stash is replaced by a magnetic strip. New kits are completely devoid of the famous multi-colored bills; instead, you'll find phoney Visa debit cards and a calculator / reader which keeps a running tabulation of your riches -- or lack thereof. A deal was struck with Visa to design the mock cards and readers, presumably after surveys showed that 70% of adults used cash less often now than they did a decade ago (no surprise there). When asked about the dramatic change, Parker said replacing cash with plastic "showed the game was moving with the times." For those anxious to get their swipe on, or if you've simply forgotten how to use bills, the new version will set you back ?24.99, while the now "antiquated" cash version can be had for ?12.99, but only while supplies last.
Many years ago I gave up using floppy disks because they had become
totally ineffective. Average file sizes were growing in response to
computers' bigger hard drives, larger quantities of RAM and greater
operating system speeds.
Application producers had also
created new mechanisms to do a lot more a lot faster. And finally, the
leading machine designers dropped the floppy drive facility from PCs
and laptops in favour of CD-only formats. Accessing a floppy now seems
to warrant a trip to a museum and I cannot remember the last time I saw
one being used. They just seem to have disappeared overnight.
next big fatality was the VHS tape, overtaken in a few years by the
DVD. Again they seemed to vanish in less than a year. So will the DVD
share this fate as the next higher density format overtakes it? And
where does this leave the CD? I'd say both are at great risk!
the ubiquitous USB memory stick is sidelining the CD for many
applications and is augmented by the rollout of broadband. Downloading
or sharing ~700MB of data, movies, games or applications is more
conveniently achieved using broadband and/or USB sticks than CDs.
my prediction is that the CD will go quickly, overtaken by the DVD and
USB stick, and promoted by exactly the same mechanisms that killed the
interesting development has been the process of local file transfer
between machines. Sure we can all do it online but the configuration
hassle is no mean undertaking, and how much easier and certain it is
with a stick!
So my prediction is that the CD will go
quickly, overtaken by the DVD and USB stick, and promoted by exactly
the same mechanisms that killed the floppy - file size growth,
increased storage demand, plus a growing universality that will leave
the CD in the dust.
The really interesting arena is in the
next transition - from DVD (~9GB) to a much higher definition version
(~50GB). The snag is we have two competing standards and they are in
the entertainment arena rather than IT alone.
transitioned from floppy to CD the capacity multiplier was over 300:1.
The move to USB sticks, which have effectively become the new floppy in
terms of pure convenience, is already over 500:1. In contrast the move
from CD to DVD was only ~10:1. This seems to be a magic ratio in the
industry. We tend not to react to marginal capacity or speed changes
that are sub 2, 3, 4 or 5:1 but as we approach 10:1 a stampede is
triggered and big changes become certain.
There are 2GB USB
sticks on the market today and 5GB models are on the way. Relative to
the standard CD we will see the density ratio quickly grow from ~3:1 to
6:1 and beyond. Moreover, they will be cheap and remain simple to use -
and as disposable as the 256MB sticks today, which are already given
away for free instead of pens at conferences! And so, as the new higher
definition DVDs take hold, the cost of DVDs can be expected to fall
rapidly too. Suddenly CDs will be gone, consigned to the museum with
floppies and VHS tapes!
On the timing front there is a snag -
an almost identical rerun of the 'tape wars' between VHS and BetaMax.
Which should we choose as the new storage media standard: BlueRay or HD
DVD? The former uses new production techniques that mean retooling
production plants, whilst the latter means modifying existing plants.
The latter got to market first, whilst the former is just being
Both technologies have an impressive line-up of
content providers and box makers in support, and the first HD movies
are now being shipped to feed avid viewers who have already laid out
for their own HDTV. So it looks like the battle lines have been drawn.
I favour BlueRay because it the most advanced technology and can offer
25GB per side, whilst the HD DVD is closer to 15GB per side. This is
only just enough space for a full HD movie! Furthermore, the
theoretical capacity limits for the technologies are around 200GBfor
BlueRay with demos up to 100GB so far, whilst HD DVD is at 45GB with
60GB demos reported.
Interestingly BetaMax was technically
better than VHS but lost the race. In fact it seems to be a general
rule that the worst technology generally wins the day. But for HDTV and
IT I sense a sea change in thinking by the consumers - and ultimately
they call the shots.
My real suspicion is that the TV, game
and PC box makers are siding more with BlueRay, as are the content
producers. If I have to buy in the next few months it will be BlueRay
because of all the advantages, and most likely, it will come free on my
PC and laptop anyway!
Spare a thought for Japan's watchmakers. According to a new survey by
Seiko Watches, the proportion of Japanese aged between 16-49 wearing
wristwatches has plummeted from 70% in 1997 to 46% today. The culprit,
if you haven't already guessed, is the mighty cell phone. While the
trend is a global one, it's more pronounced in Japan, where mobile
phone ownership passed 81 million in 2004, and gizmo-jammed handsets
rule the roost. (Only in Japan can you use your handset to discern star constellations, while listening to music downloaded over a 3G network, before taking a breath-test for alcohol to make sure you're okay to drive).
Of course, falling watch shipments is only one of the numerous
impacts of mobile telephony on Japanese habits. Not all of them
positive. At Kichijoji station, half an hour from central Tokyo, signs
on escalators warn women to be wary of men using phones to attempt
sneaky photos of their underwear. Similarly, the Times of London got
into a lather in 2004 when it discovered a filter device on sale in
Japan which enables mobile phones to seemingly peer through clothes.
The report warned that the filter was particularly effective on dark
Other developments are less salcious but manna from heaven for
academics and marketers nevertheless. One example: the impact of
phone-based shopping. These days there is just about nothing that you
can't buy on your handset in Japan—from furniture to a date. At the
beginning of the year, a surge of mobile phone-based stock selling even
helped pushed the Nikkei down as salarymen rushed to dump stock in
livedoor, an internet company whose CEO is now awaiting trial for
securities fraud. Then there's the impact on dexterity as kids grow up
using their thumbs to type into their handsets at speeds of 100
characters a minute often using new variations on Japanese which save
time and make it almost impossible for those not in the know to
Still, all isn't quite lost for watchmakers, despite the
paradigm-shifting competition. One answer is to move upmarket. While
shipments of watches in Japanare a third of what they were a decade
ago, last year total sales actually rose 8% to $5.5 billion, reports
the Nikkei Keizai. The reason: those that are buying watches are opting
for (often pricey) imports, which account for 70% of the total value of
Google Inc.'s eponymous search engine became a sanctioned part of the English language Thursday, when "google" — with a small "g" — earned an entry among the 165,000 or so terms in the 11th edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
The definition: "to use the Google search engine to obtain information … on the World Wide Web." As in, "Let me google that."