The Byte Before Christmas



With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.
New-York Historical Society: Clement Clark Moo...
New-York Historical Society: Clement Clark Moore’s desk, on which it is believed that he wrote “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (Photo credit: Chris Devers)

T'was the byte before Christmas,
When all through the house
Not  creature was stirring,
Not even the mouse.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, let’s take a look at what is shaping up to be a very merry Internet Christmas in 2013.  So far this year Internet sales are up 19% over last year and 30% of those sales are attributed to mobile purchases. This is also the first time that brick and mortar sales are lower than the year before.

 Shoppers Duking It Out Still Prevelant

Christmas shopping
Christmas shopping (Photo credit: Peter Hilton)
As has become the tradition in this time of giving, not everyone has gotten the “Peace on Earth & Good Will Toward Men” tweet.  With the exception of the usual shopper melees that have become so ubiquitous that the KFC franchise posted a tongue-in-cheek salute to them on YouTube, https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=UKcr1bZMV5s a  notable incident included a brawl involving more than 40 people at an Alamo Christmas tree lighting ceremony in San Antonio.  (Bad Santa!)

Are the Naughty’s Out in Force?

Of course shoppers weren’t the only people infused with the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge this year.  Everyone from Bitcoin bandits who recently hacked their way into more than $1 million in ill-gotten gains, to at least one Seattle restaurant that ejected a patron for sporting Google Glass, to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suggestion that frustrated users of healthcare.gov “avoid the lines” by shopping on the website during off-peak hours.


English: Cartoon of George C. Scott as 'Scroog...
English: Cartoon of George C. Scott as 'Scrooge', starring in the 1984 television film 'A Christmas Carol'. Nederlands: Een cartoon van George C. Scott als 'Scrooge' in de televisiefilm 'A Christmas Carol' uit 1984. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Speaking of Scrooge, Microsoft has upped the ante on its Scroogled campaign, which has for the past two years poked fun at Google’s privacy policy, when they decided to cash in on the phenomenon by selling Scroogled T-shirts, hats, hoodies and mugs.  Many of the items for sale sport the meme  “Keep calm while we steal your data.”   When one Google spokesperson was asked their opinion of the all-too-public slur by Microsoft that has been broadcast online and on TV, the response was one of, “Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise, since competition in the wearables space is really heating up.”

When it comes to playing nice with the other children, Microsoft is no saint.  After partnering up with Apple, Ericsson, Sony and Rim and operating under the name Rockstar Bidco in order to collectively purchase a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents from the bankrupt Canadian telecom Nortel in 2011, Microsoft has been busy litigating Google for patent infringement.

An arstechnica.com blog stated: “Google probably knew this was coming. When it lost out in the Nortel auction, the company's top lawyer, David Drummond, complained that the Microsoft-Apple patent alliance was part of a "hostile, organized campaign against Android.".

Christmas Spirit Lives in Those Who've Whose Been Nice


That doesn’t mean that a quick search of the Internet was unable to locate anyone with the Christmas spirit.  Far from it.  I found everything from an article in the Washington Post that touted a DC restaurant that turned its patio into a Christmas tree lot for charity, to 14-year old Hailey Poutiatine who  puts on a concert each 
English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...
English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Christmas Eve in Spokane, giving the donations to the Christmas Bureau. 

In fact, when it comes to finding who’s been naughty or nice, the web is hard to beat.  Among other reporting agencies, Consumer Reports has for the past four years published a Naughty & Nice List of company policies and practices. 

NAUGHTY
·      Amazon. The world's 11th largest retailer, with more than $61 billion in annual sales, recently raised the requirement for free Super Saver shipping on eligible items by $10, to $35.


NICE
·       Lands' End. The catalog merchant has an unconditional "Guaranteed. Period" policy that entitles customers to return for refund or exchange any product at any time, for any reason. That largesse extends even to personalized items that have been hemmed or monogrammed.
NAUGHTY
·         United Airlines. One practice travelers can usually count on when flying with commercial airlines is pre-boarding for families with young kids. Not at United. "Families with infants or with children who are under the age of four may board the aircraft when their group number is called." 
christmas 2007
christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)
NICE
·         Lands' End. The catalog merchant has an unconditional "Guaranteed. Period" policy that entitles customers to return for refund or exchange any product at any time, for any reason. That largesse extends even to personalized items that have been hemmed or monogrammed.
NICE
·         Southwest Airlines. Airlines typically allow flight cancellations within 24 hours of booking without financial penalty. Southwest offers greater flexibility if you need to switch flights. You can modify your itinerary without time restriction and simply pay the difference in cost between fares.

How Folks Celebrate Christmas Around the World  (I’m not making these up, I swear.)


One of the benefits of working the web has to do with the fact that you can reach out and touch Christmas traditions from all around the world.  Some notables are as follows:

Great Britain – The Brits celebrate the yule by wearing silly hats and making bad jokes as they pop Christmas crackers and pal around with Father Christmas. There’s something to be said about the British sense of humor. However, the opposite could be said about their cuisine. Xmas haggis, anyone?

Greenland – Speaking of cuisine, here’s a Christmas dinner "yule" never forget.  At Christmas time in the frozen arctic nation, they prepare and eat a special feast that includes mattak (raw whale skin) and kiviak, which is made by wrapping a small arctic bird called an auk in seal skin and then burying it for a couple of months. Yum! 

The Christmas Around the World exhibit in the ...
The Christmas Around the World exhibit in the rotunda at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Japan– All they want for Christmas is their KFC.  No sushi for me, mama san.  Please pass the bucket of the Colonel’s best.  Due to a combination of limited cooking facilities in many Japanese homes, combined with the marketing prowess of KFC, fried chicken on Christmas Eve has become all the rage in Japan.  Meri Kurisumasu!

China – In China, Santa is known as Sheng dan lao ren.  While most of the Christmas decorations and artificial Christmas trees sold worldwide are made in China, most Chinese would not know what they are all about, since the only place they are likely to see them are in major department stores in big cities.  A Christmas tradition that is becoming more common in China is giving brightly wrapped apples on Christmas Eve.  Apparently the word for Christmas Eve (Pine An Ye) in Cantonese is similar to the word for apple (Ping Guo).  Talk about being inscrutable.   Seng Dan Fai Lok!


If you are interested in finding out how other cultures celebrate Christmas, check out the website Christmas Around the World.   http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/

In this article, I discussed the beginning of the holiday season both here and around the world. Online sales are up and brick and mortar sales are down. Shopper brawls and Grinchness abound,  alone with the real Holiday spirit of giving and being nice. A unique list of how the world celebrates the Christmas holidays is provided and commentary of who been naughty and nice in the business world.  While the Internet can claim to have truly brought all the people of the world together for this giving season, I’m not sure what old Clement Moore would think of a geopolitically corrected rendition of his perennial holiday poem:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
“Meri Kurisumasu to all, and to all a good night!”

Please pass the kiviak …

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Happy Holidays from everyone here at Working the Web to Win! 

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Thanks for sharing your time with me.


Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.


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