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There have been times in years past that Amazon, Alphabet (read: Google), and Microsoft have had rough patches. Amazon has suffered quarters-long profit droughts. Alphabet has given its investors agita over profligate spending on non-core products. Microsoft’s growth—if not its profit engine—stalled for years, causing its stock to idle too.
The middle months of 2017 have not been one of those times for any of these companies.
Each, for their own reasons, reported anywhere from solid to spectacular earnings results Thursday. Amazon (AMZN) didn’t make any more money than it did the year before, but its growth resembles a startup more than the grownup it is. Alphabet’s (GOOGL) ad machine is humming. Microsoft (MSFT), a cloud computing convert, has completed the most impressive tech turnaround since Lou Gerstner taught an elephant to dance.
That these giants are charging simultaneously—throw in Twitter (TWTR) and Intel (INTC) too—is no coincidence. Their success is the digital transformation explained. Where the action once was in high-trafficked shopping malls, print and TV advertising, and client-server software, businesses that deliver digitally rule the roost today.
This is the point in any account of Big Tech’s success where journalists insert the “to be sure” paragraph, as in, to be sure, this garish performance will draw the attention of regulators, legislators, and other haters that could ruin the fun. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both turned in laudable examples of the art form.
Those concerns only matter, of course, when they matter. For now, they don’t. It is party time. And what a party it is.
The cinema business is thinking about experimenting with dynamic pricing, as Bloomberg reported this week. Dynamic pricing—charging more when goods and services are in high demand and short supply and less when the opposite is true—isn’t new. Gasoline retailers, hoteliers, and airlines have been deploying the technique for years. Uber did it too—to great success but also with dollops of controversy largely attributed to its own stubbornness and insensitivity.
According to Bloomberg, Regal Cinemas (RGC) will charge more for hits and less for flops, an intriguing concept given that the real money is in egregiously overpriced popcorn and soda, not movies.
Long live capitalism. And see you at the movies.