Consumer Confidential: Confidence slips, smartphones rise, chocolate wine hits
-- We have seen the future -- and it makes us nervous. Consumer confidence has slipped more than expected as recession-weary shoppers keep a tighter grip on their wallets and purses amid concerns about rising food and gas prices. The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, says its Consumer Confidence Index for March fell more than expected in February to the lowest reading since December. The economy may be on the mend, but consumers are still freaked about the high unemployment rate and watching the cost of everyday items grow more and more expensive. These concerns may not be enough to derail the recovery, but they won't help either.
-- You'd have thought that everyone who wanted a smartphone had one by now. But no. The smartphone market is expected to grow by almost 50% this year, according to market researcher IDC. The company says smartphone shipments will surpass the 450 million mark, up from 303.4 million units in 2010. The Android platform from Google is expected to reach a total market share of nearly 40% by the end of the year. The iOS platform that powers the iPhone from Apple is expected to end the year with slightly less than 16% of the global market, with Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platform expected to end the year at 14.9%. Now if only we could do something about those two-year service contracts.
-- Chocolate wine? Sounds kind of gross to me, but apparently a new Cocoa di Vine concoction is developing a following. In fact, more vintners are reportedly blending chocolate flavorings with their grapes. Sold as dessert wines and particularly popular around choco-holidays such as Valentine's Day and Easter, the wines fit into a larger trend that has seen Americans embracing wines that are fruity and sweet. Chocolate wines generally fall into two camps: Some are port-style wines that are dark red and have a rich, dark chocolate taste. The other mixes cream into the wine, creating a sort of adult milk shake. Like we weren't already getting enough sweets in our diet.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Chocolate tastes great on donuts, but in wine? Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times