If you're wading up to your nose hairs in negative news this week, take my hand as we go over some of the more uplifting headlines of the week. Yes, Fools, it wasn't all just layoffs, missed earnings, and guidance knockdowns this week.
1. Kicking gas and taking names
Oil prices hit a nearly four-year low yesterday. Worrywarts may point to a few pitfalls of cheap oil, but for consumers it means cheaper transportation, lower energy costs, and ultimately lower food prices at the supermarket.
2. No place like homepage for the holidays
It's going to be a tough holiday shopping season for retailers, but don't tell that to online merchants. Market watcher comScore is reporting that e-tail spending on Cyber Monday -- the media-ballyhooed kickoff of the dot-com selling season -- improved by 15% over last year's showing.
Individual sites aren't putting out hard metrics, though IAC's
Naturally we'll have to wait until the holiday quarter earnings reports to trickle in come January and February to score this one. If the boost in sales is the result of sharp discounting, a bump in sales will be more than offset by weaker profitability. Still, until told otherwise, pass the eggnog and get into the holiday cheer.
3. Yahooligans can keep a tune
Long live LAUNCHcast Radio. Yahoo!
CBS is no slouch here. It's not just CBS Radio. The media giant also owns Last.fm and MP3.com.
4. iShopping on the iPhone
Just in time for the telltale gift-buying season, Amazon.com
The application lets users browse through the virtual aisles of Amazon and its 9,000 merchant partners. There is even a nifty Amazon Remembers feature that allows iPhone owners to take a snapshot of any item they see out on the wild, send it to Amazon, and then get back a response with where to find it -- or something similar -- through Amazon.
This isn't good news for bricks-and-mortar retailers, who will now have to compete against last-minute comparison shopping, but it's a great move for Amazon, Apple, and penny-pinching iShoppers.
5. You've got to hand it to Shanda
Online gaming is alive and well in China. Niche pioneer and market leader Shanda Interactive
Shanda earned $0.68 a share, well ahead of the mere $0.55 a share that Wall Street was expecting. Then again, the earnings surprise shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Shanda has now smoked analyst estimates in 10 consecutive quarters.
6. Smartphones get smarter
It's got some nifty features like a wide screen, full QWERTY keyboard, and a five-megapixel camera. If you thought those two-megapixel snapshots on your iPhone looked iffy, here is Nokia with a multimedia smartphone that may take pictures worth showing off.
So keep your chin up, Fools, and always look on the bright side of life.