Pinkberry craze next franchise hit?… Australia’s cities get more costly… Ad dollars elude TV… Finance job barriers… Internet6 on its way

Next hot franchise trend?

A tart-yet-sweet swirled yoghurt called Pinkberry is being touted as the next new hot franchise trend. Launched in Los Angeles two years ago, the 20th store just opened in Beverley Hills. And there are plans for 50 in Los Angeles and New York by the end of the year.

The brand has been linked with celebrity names Salma Hayek, Jerry Seinfield and Paris Hilton. The founders have been reported to be in discussions with Starbucks founder Howard Shultz and his venture capital firm Maverton.

Pinkberry is just two flavours – plain and green tea, sprinkled with your choice of fresh berries, granola and chocolate chips. Stores are apparently getting about 1500 customers a day. There are already imitators; and groupies refer to the real thing as “crackberry”.

According to Fortune magazine, franchisees pay $US40,000 upfront for the right to sell the yogurt desserts, then pay 7% monthly sales royalties and marketing fees.

The Pinkberry craze is defying frozen yogurt trends in the US: per capita consumption of frozen yogurt declined from 1.6 kilograms per person in 1991 to 0.6 in 2005, according to USDA Economic Research Service. How long can the craze last?

The company has already hit problems in the way it describes its product. Originally marketed as frozen yogurt, Pinkberry has recently faced complaints that its product does not meet the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s definition of frozen yogurt because it does not contain bacterial cultures. The company may be forced to reveal its recipe.


Our cities climb the cost of living ladder

Australian cities have moved up the rankings of the world’s most expensive cities. This is with the exception of Sydney. Although it remains Australia’s most expensive city, Sydney dropped two places in worldwide rankings.

Sydney moved from 19th to 21st place this year with a score of 94.9 (New York is used as the base city, scoring 100 points.)

Melbourne has darted up the list, moving to 60th place from 74, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

Perth is more expensive than Brisbane (84th compared to 86th) but both jumped higher up the world list. Adelaide remains the least costly mainland state capital, despite a 12-place jump to 96.

The rising dollar has had an impact, as has increased consumer demand driven by the influx of business and capital into WA and Queensland.

Moscow is the most expensive city for expatriates, followed by London, Seoul and Tokyo, according to the survey which looks at 143 cities and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items.


TV audiences are falling

The days of easy access to a large advertising audiences via free-to-air TV are numbered, writes The Australian Financial Review.

The number of people watching free-to-air TV over the 10 years to 2007 has steadily declined, largely due to the rise of pay TV. Now TV is under further challenges from mobile telephones, the internet, video games and a range of other media and entertainment products are also attracting consumers.

Free-to-air TV network executives claim that the rise of digital video recorders and new distribution channels could encourage consumers to watch more free-to-air TV, but media buyers are not so sure.


Finance bosses intimidated by overseas experience

Australian expatriates seeking to return to Australia and work in the finance industry are finding it difficult to get jobs, despite the skills shortage, according to reports published on British-based careers portal

Some Australians trying to re-enter the market at home reported that some employers are verging on parochial in their insistence on local experience, or require exact skills to meet vacancies. Others felt that senior management was intimidated by their overseas experience.

With Australian salaries 50% lower than London and New York, and a third lower than Hong Kong, one wonders why these Aussies want to come back!


Upgrade for the www

The current version of the internet was established in 1980 using IPv4, version four of an internet protocol for users’ computer addresses. But the system is reaching its limit and IPv6 is being considered as a replacement, according to a report in the weekend Australian Financial Review.

The new version, to be introduced over the next few years, has billions more addresses, greater security, potentially increased speed and more inter-operability. It will be in operation for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the US Government has decreed a shift to IPv6 by mid-2008.

The good news is that modern operating software already has the technical capacity to use IPv6 and the rollout should have little impact on internet users. If only all upgrades were like this.



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