5 Winners and Losers of the Week in Business

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An Amazon.com Inc., screen shot is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *****HOLD FOR RICH JAROSLOVSKY COLUMN****
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A lot of wonders and blunders took place in the business world this week, from vinyl record owners getting some digital love to a family entertainment giant shutting down a popular division. Let's review:

Amazon.com (AMZN) -- Winner

Music fans who prefer to get their tunes on classic vinyl have a new reason to warm up to Amazon.com.

The leading online retailer will provide free digital copies of songs purchased on vinyl records through Amazon for any labels participating in Amazon's AutoRip program.

Amazon introduced AutoRip in January, giving buyers of CDs of more than 50,000 eligible discs instant access to the tracks through Amazon's Cloud Player streaming platform. It's not just new CDs. Any purchases made since Amazon began selling music in 1998 are accessible this way, and as of this week, vinyl buyers have the same perk.

Fans of vinyl music will argue that they may never bother with digital streams. There's a reason why they prefer the warm grooves of of an analog record. However, just see what happens when that needle scratches the record. Amazon just became the best place to buy vinyl.

Target (TGT) -- Blunder

Manatee Gray doesn't sound like an offensive color designation, but it does if you're Target and you're only using that name to describe a plus-size kimono dress that's labeled as Dark Heather Gray for smaller sizes.

The cheap chic retailer fixed the discrepancy quickly, but not before it blew up into a public relations nightmare on Twitter.

Target has explained that it uses Manatee Gray to describe a color option on several items across home decor, footwear, and apparel, and that it simply had two different teams working on the descriptions for the Mossimo maxi dress. So, it was perfectly honest mistake. Still, it's hard to dig yourself out of a public opinion hole.

Rosetta Stone (RST) -- Winner

The leading provider of language-learning software wants to bulk up is online learning muscle, so it's acquiring Livemocha in an $8.5 million deal. Livemocha is a community of more than 16 million members that also doubles as a cloud-based learning platform.
Most of Rosetta Stone customers still consume its courses on CD, though the company does have Web-based offerings for corporations.

The deal is brilliant because Rosetta Stone is paying a little more than 50 cents for each member of a community that includes educators and fans of brushing up on foreign languages.That's a bargain.

Disney (DIS) -- Blunder

The family entertainment giant is looking forward to future "Star Wars" movies, but it doesn't want George Lucas' video game studio to make the diversions for fans wanting to play along.

Disney announced that it's closing down LucasArts, which has been cranking out those video games and a host of others for decades.

Disney paid more than $4 billion for Lucasfilm. It can do what it wants with the video game arm. However, the move to license future game releases instead of developing them in-house isn't going to sit well with diehard fans, especially those that were mesmerized by early glimpses at the promising "Star Wars 1313" game that has now been nixed in the closing.

Zynga (ZNGA) -- Winner

Shares of Zynga popped higher after a pair of real-money online casino games were introduced overseas.

Zynga struck a deal with Bwin a few months ago to offer Zynga-themed poker, slots, roulette, and blackjack in the U.K. -- and now the venture is a reality.

Don't bet on online gambling to be made legal closer to home anytime soon, but if it does happen, Zynga will have plenty of experience. At a time when bookings for its flagship casual and social games have been softening, it's good to see Zynga diversifying its revenue streams.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Rosetta Stone, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Rosetta Stone, and Walt Disney. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.


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groman00

Can't believe it!

April 05 2013 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply