Businessweek Archives

Talk Show


Up Front

Talk Show

"The content of this exhibition may cause shock, vomiting, confusion, panic, euphoria, and anxiety." -- Brooklyn Museum of Art's warning about ad man Charles Saatchi's collection, which includes a dung-encrusted Virgin MaryEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Palm VII: Hey, Little Surfer

The next time you go online, instead of sitting at a desk you could be browsing a mall for bargains or checking the weather forecast while you wait at the airport for a flight. That's the promise of 3Com's Palm VII: the Internet in your hand.

The national rollout of the gizmo on Oct. 4 marks the coming of age of wireless Net access, says the company. But don't expect unlimited Web surfing quite yet. Neither wireless handheld computers nor Internet-ready cell phones can handle that. Users, however, can glean such snippets from the vast ocean of Internet data as stock quotes, sports scores, headlines, air schedules, and some retail shopping.

Despite criticism that Palm VII is too costly, it sold out in a New York marketing test last spring. And 3Com has since cut the base price $100, to $499, and Net access charges by one-third.

Experts believe that at least 20 million Americans will be heavy users of wireless data by 2004. The Palm VII's interconnectivity puts the Palm line ahead of its newest rival, Handspring's Visor. But online capability has a price: The Palm VII sells for twice the cost of a top-of-the-line Visor.By Janet Rae-Dupree; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Winning Hearts and Lungs

It may be embroiled in lawsuits and controversy, but somehow tobacco giant Brown & Williamson still thinks that love rules the world--or at least the smokers in it.

B&W says that people calling one of its customer-service lines were getting testy with operators after navigating the standard "press zero if you want to speak to an operator" option menu. So, after warning those who are underage and nonsmokers to hang up, a message from Chairman Nicholas Brookes' company states: "We, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., are in love--with you." Music swells in the background. Then: "We're a giant corporation, and you make us feel like a little kitten. Thank you, lover.

"By the way, the other tobacco companies hate you and think you are ugly. They told us so."

So what gives? A B&W spokesman says, "We think we are a fun company. We are human beings with families and a sense of humor."

Not everyone is laughing. Says Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds and an antismoking activist, "If you don't think people in tobacco companies are a little warped, call this number."

Hear it for yourself: 1-800-578-7453.By Roy Furchgott; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Pick Up Some Eggs at the Office, Dear

It's not unusual for a tired employee to stop and pick up some takeout for dinner. But how about some ripe tomatoes or fresh corn on the cob with that briefcase full of work? Some companies are now offering workers the option of picking up milk, bread, fruit, and veggies at the office.

Employees love the convenience of the idea, says retailer J.C. Penney, which recently began selling fresh produce to employees at its Plano (Tex.) headquarters. Workers call in their orders from their desks during the day, then stop by the cafeteria in the evening to pick up their food. With produce selling up to 30% cheaper than at local markets, the program has been popular, says Penney.

In Baltimore, Sodexho Marriott Services, a large food-service company, says it is already running tests of fresh-food sales at six other companies. And to round out the at-work shopping experience, industry experts also foresee more proprietary convenience stores, such as Owens Corning's at its Toledo headquarters. Some companies have long had onsite day care. Now there's the move toward onsite grocery shopping. Soon, you'll never need to leave work.By Dennis Blank; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


The Good Business Issue
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus