Friday, March 13, 2009

2009: The Year of Mobile Computing Platforms

The year 2009 is going to witness tremendous increase in mobile travel technologies. Look at the Marriott International, which launched a version of its Website that was built exclusively for smart phone mobiles. Marriott's site earned over $1.25 million in gross revenue within the first 100 days itself. The Kelsey Group conducted research which states that 19% percent of the population in the US use mobile computing devices.

Clearly, mobile computing platforms like the Blackberry Storm and the iPhone will trigger a boom in the use of applications that trigger mobile travel.

Top hotels like the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels Corp. are transforming their existing Web sites into mobile interfaces. This is a factor that simplify bookings.

In terms of mobile capabilities, Hilton generated over $420,000 in revenue in 2008 October. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts are also geared to launch mobile sites.

Currently, most hotel sites focus on pre-stay functionalities. This may involve simple tasks like paying online or booking a room but this is now broadening. The sites are extending their mobile capabilities to permit customer check ins and even booking restaurant reservations.

Laws relating to any dispute or bone of contention between a hotel and a consumer in the context of mobile computing discrepancies remain vague as of now. The future may spell another story.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Global mergers and R&D Impact

We've all been reading about Merck's plan to acquire SGP or Schering-Plough. The staggering amount of $41 billion is poised to improve the bottom line.

However, a growing concern that experts in the legal field have is that the proposed merger will cut about 16,000 staffers as part of its efforts to streamlines operating costs. That apart, some of Merck's big drugs are at the brink of losing the umbrella of patent protection. That spells a rather gloomy state of affairs altogether. Take the example of Pfizer which seems to have sagging R&D prospects too.

To those of us who are keenly watching the global mergers and changes in the pharma industry, these trends have several implications. The Schering's purchase of a Dutch company known as Organon hardly yieled production of new drugs. Numbers wise, Pfizer spent over $60 billion for its R&D segment for eight years. Have you heard of the company producing a single drug worth its name from this? Mergers impact R&D culture in a rather negative way though they solve some short-term problems.

Takeovers may be just quick fixes for Merck and Pfizer as their best-selling drugs may lose patent protection in the next couple of years. They would have to face generic competition too. Another significant first time for them. Undoubtedly, the legal implications of such defensive acquisitions are bound to be interesting for lawyers.