Morning Advantage: Let the Christmas Wars Begin

You know the Christmas season has started in Britain when the commercial wars begin between John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. M&S sent the first salvo this year with this high-energy, glitzy romp through its Christmas stock. But John Lewis has responded by doubling down on its emotional sell. Last year’s ad (epic in length, by U.S. standards, at 90 seconds) reduced the British public to tears, the Guardian reports, with its message of …well I won’t tell you the ending — see it for yourself. But, The Guardian asks, with its Snowman theme, and its haunting score (from, we’re told, Britain’s number one Christmas “power ballad”), did the retailer out do — or overdo — itself this year?


Where the BlackBerry Is King (The Globe and Mail)

In Nigeria, it’s every young teenager’s dream to own a… BlackBerry. In fact, the BlackBerry is the No. 1 smartphone in all of Africa, Mexico, and Indonesia, according to research firm Canalys, with as much as a 60% market share. Why? Part of the answer lies in people like 18-year-old student Chidera Anukam, whom RIM is employing to use its proprietary BlackBerry Messenger texting service to blast out party invites to all her 1,002 BlackBerry-using peers. If you don’t have a BlackBerry, you’re unlikely to hear from her. “It’s very, very fashionable to have a BlackBerry,” she says, “especially if you have fancy pouches and, maybe, bedazzles on it, like mine."


Is the Internet Sapping Young Men’s Interest in Cars? (The Washington Post)

Back in the day, guys were obsessed with cars. But the share of young men behind the wheel has been declining in the U.S., and rising internet use may be part of the reason, say researchers from the University of Michigan. Over a 15-year period ending in 2010, the share of men ages 25 to 29 with driver’s licenses dropped 10.6%, while the share of women of the same age with driver’s licenses declined 4.7%. The researchers say internet use may be reducing the need for personal contact, and digital technologies may make driving less desirable and public transportation more convenient (there’s no risk to texting or working on a laptop while riding the train). — Andy O’Connell



The Animal Appeal of the Human Voice (Harpers)
Microsoft Brings Star Trek’s Voice Translator to Life (Technology Review)
The Secret Genius of Taylor Swift (NPR Planet Money)

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