Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Business English through Tech Talk

Today we're going to focus on some business English terms used in a recent New York Times article "Sell Big or Die Fast" by Jenna Wortham.

The English we'll focus on is highlighted in bold:

Seven weeks after it was put on sale, Hewlett-Packard killed its TouchPad

tablet, the company’s competitor to Apple’s iPad. Hewlett-Packard killed the TouchPad after 48 days, cut the price and created a buying frenzy. Last year, Microsoft pulled the plug on its Kin mobile phones only 48 days after they went on sale.

In recent years, technology companies have been cutting their losses with increasing speed. Google proudly released Wave, its platform of collaborative work tools, to the general public in May 2010. It canceled Wave 77 days later...

These days, big technology companies — particularly those in the hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet industries — are starting to resemble Hollywood film studios. Every release needs to be a blockbuster, and the only measure of success is the opening-weekend gross. There is little to no room for the sleeper indie hit that builds good word of mouth to become a solid performer over time.

Now let's discuss the vocabulary in the article:

(to) kill a product - to stop making a product (usually because it is a failure - or flop - in the market).

(to) pull the plug on - to stop something; to end something. (Think of pulling the plug of a lamp out of the wall - it goes out)

(to) cut one's losses - to stop doing something because it is likely it will not succeed; to stop doing something before one loses any MORE money.

blockbuster - a big winner; a huge success

sleeper hit - a product, service, movie or other thing that is not popular immediately, but becomes popular over time (often unexpectedly). Note: the "indie" in the article is short for "independent" - typically applied to movies made by a small studio or an individual.

word of mouth - when people talk about a product or service and it then becomes known. An important term in marketing these days, especially with Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Questions? Comments? Include them in your Comments to this blog post! And if you want to learn more business English expressions, check out the books Speak Better Business English and Make More Money and Speak Business English Like an American. Also the iPhone apps Speak Business English I and Business English Power Verbs.