Brand launches in virtual worlds were all the rage a couple of years ago - until they weren't.
It's been a while since an announcement came down the pike that a major brand was teeming with a vitual world for a major launch, but that's exactly what Fremantle's "American Idol" plans to do with kids and teens oriented Habbo. Ninety percent of the site's users fall squarely into Idol's top audience demographic: teens age 13-18. American Idol has been something of a mobile sensation with this age group as well. Episodes generates up to 78 million text message votes for singing contestants in the talent showdown.
The Idol space will be free to Habbo members and open year round. It will be filled with branded merchandise for sale, as well as expose users to sponsors and advertisers whilst they are watching mini talent shows and other events on the stage.
Since the dawn of US ecommerce, the question has been "to sales tax, or not to sales tax?"
Consumers and online retailers are squarely in the don't-tax camp, while state governments, which stand to reap the tax dollars, are of a differing opinion. New York state has been trying to get out of state sellers, such as Amazon, to collect and pay state sales tax on transactions, which could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for the cash-strapped government (particular now that once-lucrative Wall Street revenues are fading fast).
The rule of thumb has long been that if the online seller has a bricks and mortar local presence in the state, e.g. Apple.com has local Apple stores, state tax is levied on online transactions. Amazon, as well as other online-only retailers such as Overstock.com, challenged New York's attempt to get them to pony up 8.25 percent on all New York state transactions.
Yesterday, a NY State judge dismissed Amazon's suit as groundless.