Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things that don't make sense: Buying a house

Read a great article in the NYT yesterday that reminded me of some silliness that has never made sense to me - Why do people get so hung up on owning a house?  The rent vs. buy analysis nearly always says 'rent' in most non-flyover markets, but with all of the plummeting home prices (in SF at least) a lot of really smart people get roped into it being "a great time to buy."

SF prices still (if you believe the fundamentals outlined in the NYT article - which I do) still has at least 20%+ to fall in a short order... and no reason to have returns greater than inflation for the next decade.  Makes no sense to buy as long as rents are relatively cheap.

My bet - lock in a ridiculously low lease in 12 months and then count yourself lucky that SF has tough laws for landlords as inflation kicks in as rents run up.

Monday, April 06, 2009


PTI - but will try to use this as a bit of a forcing mechanism to clarify my thinking about the things I'm reading about when I'm 'getting my learn' as my wife says.

Article today on micropayments in NYT - basic gist is that only the cellphone companies get it right, b/c they had the billing structure set up to do small payments already from their legacy systems.  Pretty interesting point, and lots of business school-y academic types would support that (Clay Christensen, etc, etc...).

Made me think of what other industry should be dabbling (sometimes deeply) in micropayments:

  • Videogames:  They've started with downloaded content, add-ons etc.  Good move, and should continue...but still not entirely subscription based.  Think that next-gen consoles (and particularly handhelds) are the most likely candidates for a bigger shift as they'll be even more integrated with Web.  (Another to watch is OnLive:  Less bullish about them, but they're model will be used by GOOG, APPL, MSFT, etc soon)  Image: OnLive MicroConsole
  • Netflix / Movies:  They should be careful as they move to a much more variable all-you-can eat model as they move to digital distribution (e.g., $100 / mos for any content you want - HBO+, etc...) as they may lose opportunities to grab value.  Can also imagine them charging you flat rate + $2/ mos for porting to your iPhone, or DSi, etc...
  • Sports Teams (?):  Could have the NESN's of the world parcell out game broadcasts / player interviews etc at a variable rate based on variable pricing, micropayments for additional highlight footage.  Doubtful though... 

...hmm, well apparently I can't think of anymore... but want to try to do a better job of using this as my scratch pad.