COUNTING CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH
In "The new stock traders" (Cover Story, May 4), you seem to have forgotten us teenagers. I may be the youngest investor (15) who subscribes to BUSINESS WEEK--buying and trading after school for my dad. I set up a portfolio on Yahoo! for all the stocks I wanted to watch. I also downloaded reports on companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and chose a stock: Lucent Technologies Inc. After buying and watching and selling, I made enough money to purchase a scanner and leave some for investment.
Then, I began thinking big--like college. If I played my stocks correctly right now, I could probably make my first year's college money, keep trading during my first year, make money for my second year, and so on. Then, I learned a crucial lesson of the stock market (not to mention physics): What goes up must come down.
Sugar Land, Tex.Return to top
MOTOROLA'S WORST TROUBLES ARE BEHIND IT
Motorola Inc. stands apart as an example for others to follow--even as it experiences a downturn in business ("How Motorola lost its way," Information Technology, May 4). Companies are complex adaptive systems, subject to the life cycle of birth, growth, prosperity, and decline. But companies have the possibility of renewing themselves (something that only a few achieve).
Motorola has a history of reinventing itself, and there is ample evidence it is doing so again. Investing in the Iridium satellite network--a risky and farsighted investment if there ever was one--could lead to some profound global changes. As a consultant to Motorola, I have witnessed how their efforts today are geared toward renewing the organization's culture, products, markets, and customer relationships.
It was several years ago that Motorola was in its worst shape, even though the numbers didn't show it then. Today, the company is rapidly moving out of trouble. You would do your readers--and investors in great companies such as Motorola--a greater service by taking a more systemic and less sensationalist perspective.
Quay Alliance Inc.
Flower Mound, Tex.Return to top
MAHATHIR'S ANTI-SEMITISM IS AN OLD STORY
Although Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attempts to justify anti-Jewish remarks he made earlier this year, we must remember that those distasteful comments are consistent with his long history of anti-Semitism and belief in a Jewish conspiracy to bring about the downfall of Malaysia. So his recent comments blaming a Jewish conspiracy for Malaysia's economic fall came as no surprise ("Mahathir speaks out," International Business, May 4).
Previous statements by Mahathir include a comment in 1988 that the Western media are controlled by Jews--because they have to bow to Zionist interests--and an accusation that Jewish-owned foreign publications are attempting to destabilize Malaysia. After an unfavorable 1986 article about Malaysia, the Prime Minister claimed The Wall Street Journal was controlled by Jews and part of a Zionist plot to overthrow his regime. The list goes on and on.
Abraham H. Foxman
New YorkReturn to top
SOME PRICES CHANGE AT GLACIAL SPEED
You make several useful points in "Good-bye to fixed pricing" (Special Report, May 4), but 10 years of pricing consulting with leading software companies indicate the changes will take longer than you suggest.
Mature products or products that are perceived as commodities will feel the greatest price pressure. Differentiated products or products in short supply are always able to resist these pressures. While the Internet and other computer technologies present opportunities for vendors and lower prices to customers, they will not lead to rapid change for two reasons: First, pricing is not done in a vacuum but is one element of a complex, interrelated business system.
Second, the links between the price seen by the customer and vendor are slow to respond to change. Even if prices change dynamically, sales-compensation plans do not. Even when customers minimize the role of resellers to get better prices, their spending changes slowly, since they must still meet the need for factory service and support. How quickly will companies replace part of their purchasing staff with a bunch of software robots looking for the best deal? Even the best and the brightest need time to adapt their business model to new pricing paradigms.
James H. Geisman
Wayland, Mass.Return to top