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Ford dumps Microsoft and gets in touch with BlackBerry

Dear Friends,

We have added this monthly blog to our Web site as a direct extension of my book, A Nation of Numbers. As you know, the MR world is ever-changing. As it is not practical to keep putting out new editions of the book, this blog will give me a platform to continue informing you about America’s incredible and colorful obsession with numbers and statistics. Enjoy!


What’s happening: Recent articles by Alisa Priddle in the Detroit Free Press and Chris Woodyard in USA Today discuss Ford Motor Company’s obsession with improving its scores in the J.D. Power surveys of new car buyers. It seems that people like Ford’s cars and trucks but hated its Ford Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment systems that were based on flawed software from Microsoft. So Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment systems will all be based on BlackBerry’s QNX software, which also runs BlackBerry Q10 and BlackBerry Passport smartphones. So the importance of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study and Consumer Reports, plus the wild popularity of the Angie’s List Web site all mirror how obsessed American consumers are with following their own opinions. As Michele Krebs, senior analyst at Autotrader, has written about previous Microsoft-based systems in Ford vehicles: “They are the modern-day equivalent of the Edsel.”

My comments: Can you imagine the numerical significance of Ford’s on-board infotainment systems matching the importance of their automotive ratings in Consumer Reports?! I guess cars are used as much for personal communication and entertainment as for old-fashioned transportation these days. Good luck to the folks at BlackBerry, though. Although I have long since switched to using iPhones, I loved the two I had. The iPhones, by the way, sync 100 percent with our Subarus.


“Austin is the new Brooklyn: A flight to second-tier cities”

BusinessWeek, April 14-20, 2014, pp. 28-30.

By Karen Weise

When Jeni Putalavage-Ross started dating the man who’s now her husband, they were forever schlepping between her one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and his fifth-floor walk-up on the Upper West Side. “Every date had to be an overnighter,” she says. “I felt like a pack mule.” They wanted to buy a place together, but even stretching their budget to $700,000 they could afford only a two-bedroom in the far reaches of Brooklyn. “We started talking about marriage and kids, and we just couldn’t figure out how to make it work in New York,” she says. In 2009 they gave up and ditched the East Coast for Austin, Tex.

There are 92,812 Americans with a similar story. That’s the number of people who moved to Austin from other parts of the U.S. from 2010 to 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most are refugees from large cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

At the peak of the housing bubble in 2006, almost half a million people fled the country’s 50 largest metro areas in search of less expensive places to live, many settling in distant suburbs. Then the recession put the brakes on all kinds of migration. Census data released in March reveal that as Americans start moving around again, cities are seeing a different kind of urban flight. This time, hundreds of thousands of Americans who enjoy city living are abandoning major population centers not for suburbs but for more affordable, second-tier metropolitan areas.

My comments: The apparent move to smaller cities rather than suburbs may largely reflect young couples who may eventually choose to live in the burbs after they have children. The latest migration trends show a significant change from blue to red states that may reflect productive Americans’ distaste for the high taxes that are often found in areas dominated by Democrats and those who benefit from public largesse.


Articles of interest

“When a chart is worth a thousand words”

Bloomberg Business, December 11, 2014

By Olga Kharif

A decade ago, data analysis was a chore. Workers poured figures into Excel and then spent hours searching for patterns. That process is getting less cumbersome, thanks to a handful of companies selling visualization software that can help even neophytes turn data—from hospital readmissions to call-center traffic—into colorful, interactive bar graphs and pie charts. “It just happens to be the perfect tool that allows us to answer most folks’ questions,” says Christine Birtel, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo (WFC), where some 1,500 employees in her Wholesale Internet Solutions group use data visualization software developed by Tableau Software (DATA).

Read on…

“Doctors will get less money for treating Medicaid patients starting in January”

Bloomberg Business, December 18, 2014

By John Tozzi

Sandhills Pediatrics, a group practice near Fayetteville, N.C., recently hired a child psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. It also expanded a satellite office in Hoke County, where almost a third of children live in poverty. About half of Sandhills’ 20,000 patients are covered by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and the practice was able to add the services thanks to a boost in the reimbursement rates Medicaid pays primary-care doctors under the Affordable Care Act.

Read on…

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