Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Irrelevance Warning: Foreshadowing Edition

Sometimes everyone is thinking the same thing as I am and other times, I just notice the references more because I am thinking about it. I don't know which one is happening now, but the New York Times seems to be saying the same thing about Harley Davidson as I wrote about the game business. It just seems like we could substitute Harley with the name of any one of the console publishers and the story would still be accurate. They are just further along the curve. The consensus on Harley is they must change or die.

I added the emphasis. You can read the whole article here.

. . . But Harley persevered by capitalizing on its revered brand, made famous in movies like “Easy Rider,” and more recently by appealing to boomers’ desire to recapture their youth. . . .

By building such a powerful brand with offbeat, behind-the-scenes efforts — little advertising, lots of accessories and minor visible changes to bikes over the decades — Harley has become a case study for academics, marketing gurus and other corporations. But Harley’s longtime strategy of marketing to the boomers, which was a blazing success, is now backfiring.

Its core customers have grayed, and they are buying new bikes less often. The average age of a Harley rider is 49, up from 42 five years ago. But company executives don’t seem outwardly worried by the lackluster growth among those 35 and younger, even as it takes steps to turn them into Harley owners.

They say they’re confident that the baby-boom generation has 15 more years of riding life. “They’re not about to stop riding because they’re getting older,” Mr. Richer says. “It would be dumb to walk away from our core customer, the most lucrative customer.”

As Harley keeps most of its focus on its aging consumers, rivals like BMW, Honda and Yamaha are attracting younger customers who seem less interested in cruising on what their old man rides. United States sales of light sport bikes, intended for the younger crowd, have increased more than 50 percent in the last five years, and the Japanese makers have popular cruisers of their own. Harley has roughly 30 percent of the overall United States motorcycle market, but it accounts for half of the heavyweight bikes sold in America. . . .

“Harley understands the baby-boomer consumer incredibly well, in a holistic sense,” says Gregory Carpenter, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. “But to grow and thrive, they must create a deep emotional connection with younger consumers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Really?: New Record Traffic Day Edition

Sunday night's post about gaming on the verge of irrelevance drove record traffic to this blog - by orders of magnitude and from 66 countries. Thank you to those who linked and those who visited for the first time and to all of those who chose to comment and email with an opinion. It is fascinating to see what resonates and what doesn't. I guess that one did.

I hope I have something else interesting to say again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Game Business Is A Year From Irrelevance:Where are Our Easy Riders and Raging Bulls Edition

Every time I told people in suits and ties - or my parents - I was in the game business, they started to talk about kids. They viewed our business as the toy business. Games are for children. This was when I pulled out my silver bullet. I had The ESA's (then IDSA) latest report showing the average age of gamers. I started when it was 27. The "average age" went up a year each year, but was still a neat statistic when I could say 30 or 31. Whether it was directed at a school parent or an audience at a conference, It inevitably led to a dropped jaw and a "wow, I didn't know that." The industry instantly became relevant to their business.

I haven't really paid much attention to this number because my proselytizing for the business was taken over by outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and USA Today, which all have a larger reach than this blog or my speaking engagements. But this past week I saw some slides for an ESA speech indicating the average age of a gamer has risen to 35, or roughly, the median age of the US population. I suppose reaching this point was inevitable, but in the back of my mind, I always thought the aging would slow down. At some point it would have to reflect the disproportionate number of people under 25 playing games. After all, our consumer used to be younger than the median age of the population, and you would think, like the movie business with an average age a full 3 years younger, our product would appeal disproportionately to the demographic universally recognized as more likely to spend money.

Those of us who have aged out of the 18 to 35 focus of media can appreciate the dwindling selection of interesting product coming from savvy media channels who know how to make laser focused offerings for the most lucrative segment of the market. We are relegated to the "Bye Bye Birdie" lament of "Kids these days" when considering the most popular content in every media but our own. I know its an old reference, that's how our kids feel about our stuff. It would be great to say we are not "our father's games" but when looking at the most recent offerings to my thirteen year old son and the upcoming blockbusters - Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's latest kill the foreigners, The Godfather 2, WWE Smackdown 286, Final Fantasy 15 or so, even Guitar Hero with Metallica and other songs that were old when I tried to find a dance partner in junior high, followed by this year's big excitement The Beatles - I realize they ARE his father's games.

Over the course of twenty-five years we got really good at making games for gamers. We taught them how to play and what they should pay and then followed them through the market. Our planning stages focus on what they will buy, and if we can't confirm they will buy it with a high degree of certainty, we don't make the product. The games are so tailor made to the desires and skills of these gamers, they are about as easy for mainstream consumers of entertainment to crack as ancient Mandarin dialect. No one wants to work for their entertainment. There was a time, not so long ago - last cycle - when this audience was enough. A one million seller was extremely profitable. Two million had publishers doing cart wheels. Anything more had them taking money out in wheelbarrows. Today, two million is break even. Before it was nice to tap into a little itty bitty corner of the mainstream with something like GTA, Halo or Tomb Raider. Now it is imperative for our own survival. Our aging consumer, steady tie ratio, and consistent unit sales numbers across generations of console indicates our business is not really growing the way it could, should or has to. The initial ship of this year's Street Fighter IV was the same size as the initial ship of Tomb Raider 2 eleven years ago. In other words, we are not exceeding the patterns established by prior console generations. Like the movie industry touting box office growth when all they do is raise ticket prices, we are enjoying relative unit growth as a function of generation growth in the installed base, rather than growth in the number of game consumers. Worse yet, our audience is aging. An aging audience means less dollars spent. The Wii has the lowest number of consumers in the 18 to 24 demographic, and it also has the lowest tie ratio among the platforms.

A precious few companies float product over a consistent demographic, but not many. Look at the handoff of Nickelodeon to MTV to VH1. They can give a shit less about maintaining their audience after 14 or 24, respectively. If you are my age, you know what I mean. One day every show on the channel is great, and then the next you seem to be enjoying VH1 a lot more. It's like something invaded your brain while you were asleep and made everything on the channel repellant. MTV just doesn't care. We were their first audience, but from my point of view, there is not a single intelligible note left on the channel. If you are under 30 you don't have to believe me. Just wait a few years and you will see what I mean. The result, MTV Networks continue to go great guns and generate revenue.

Unfortunately, we seem to be falling in the category of the majority of industries with loyal consumers. The only open question is whether today's publishers will adapt or die.

When the movie business encountered a similar issue in the late 1960's. This was a time when Clint Eastwood was starring in the musical Paint Your Wagon and Francis Ford Coppola was directing another musical, Finian's Rainbow. The studios completely lost touch with their audience. MGM paved the way to film success with musicals in the fifties. The studios cultivated this audience and continued to provide content to the same audience, as the audience aged and stopped going to movies. The younger audience just didn't care. Films were expensive to make and audience growth was flat. The studios were taking guidance from the past rather than looking to the future. They were recreating the films they grew up on and expecting a new audience. Then, all of a sudden, almost by accident, and outside the system, Easy Rider slipped out. The film cost nothing and made a fortune by attracting a young audience. It gave the studios a much needed kick in the ass. They realized the system was broken and reengineered the pipeline from production through release. The new production process opened the door for an inexperienced crowd fresh out of film school - Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Jon MIlius, Martin Scorcese to name a few. Their type of movie did not bet the farm on every production, allowing for greater risk with each product. The distribution process, arising from Jaws, created the blockbuster. Rather than rolling a movie slowly across the country and letting the audience find it through word of mouth, they started to market movies aggressively so people would know they were in the theater. As a result of the changes, the audience, number of revenue streams and overall market grew (this is an extremely truncated version of history. If you are interested take a look at this books about Lew Wasserman, Sony and of course Easy Riders, Raging Bulls ). Sure they have their issues today, but we are looking at the end of a single cycle that is longer than the entire life of our industry.

The US auto industry, so far, has not been so lucky. There was a time when Cadillac was the "Cadillac" of cars. From the forties to the seventies it was the epitome of luxury, technology and status. General Motors jealously guarded the jewel in its crown and maintained its status at the top of the GM aspirational hierarchy. But when it came to design, Cadillac was so concerned about alienating its core user base, it maintained styling cues and appointments well beyond their relevance. This strategy maintained their audience for 30 years, but that is all they did. As the group aged, the younger market was wide open for competition from all around the world. Worse yet, as the average age creeped up the older side started to die off, shrinking the market size. Ultimately the company realized it would need to take a risk because their customers were dying. It started selling trucks and jettisoned the old branding to focus on performance. A large portion of the audience ended up staying and the average age of the Cadillac consumer fell from 64 in 2000 to 56 in 2008. Turns out my Grandfather didn't really care about the change from Sedan DeVille to DTS and new buyers like the 600 horsepower CTS. Still a far cry from the 42 year old average consumer of BMW, but a very positive move. The entire industry down and it is still too early to tell whether the strategy save the company, but it certainly moved the 107 year old company in the right direction.

I don't believe either of these examples provide a roadmap for sustaining our industry. However, they do provide effective warnings about complacency and fetishistic attachment to existing consumers. We have to start taking risks again. We are not at the point of drastic Cadillac-like measures, but there should be a risk component in publisher portfolios. The gap between the sub USD one million XBL/PSN downloadable and USD 20 million console game is to great to have nothing in between. Traditional publishers' relevance and the premier creators of interactive entertainment is under attack by movie studios, Miniclips type sites, DVD games, Facebook apps and other social network games and a ton of others. They are using the same game mechanics and the same hooks we abandoned years ago in favor of the pursuit of "advanced technology." The audience is being conditioned to pricing models that don't demand up front investments of USD 60 or monthly subscription fees. It is not just a question of a simple interface change. The Wii mote led the horse to water, but so far they are not drinking. We need end to end revisions. Changes in production, release timing, marketing and pricing. We can continue to believe EA, Actard, Microsoft and Sony will always dominate the market operating business as usual - kind of like MGM and Cadillac - or we can look to new audience segments and determine how we can make the changes needed to remain relevant. If we don't I am afraid my son's generation will view today's games as the new polyester shirt.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Out Gaming Microsoft: Apple About to Move Edition?

I was just sitting down to write a post about our need to expand beyond the core gamer. We are really good at making games for the 2 million people who buy good games and 5 million who buy great games, but that barely covers our budget. Sure Nintendo brought more people to the game market, but they only buy Nintendo games. The tie ratios are no where near what we need to consider the platform disruptive. Then I saw the post I stole and copied below from

Remember, Apple entered the MP3 player and smartphone markets when they appeared to be mature. All of the apps in the app store could easily run on Appletv and with incremental improvements on interface and design of the Wii mote, Apple could just skip over the hardcore gamer and pull the mainstream right in. This would not be the first time Apple the innovator borrowed a great idea. The Mac interface famously came from Xerox Parc, the iPod was introduced into a robust MP3 market and even iTunes was acquired from the outside. After all, Steve Jobs' favorite artist, Picasso did say "bad artists copy, geniuses steal." The box already has direct distribution of HD movies, television shows, Hulu and more, now it could have mass friendly games. Kind of a reverse on the trojan horse used by Microsoft. Maybe Nintendo proved something and Apple will perfect it.

Then again. . . . I could be nuts.

Apple is exploring the possibility of including a wireless "remote wand" with future versions of its Apple TV media system that would provide users with precise control over a cursor on the Apple TV screen in very much the same way a conventual mouse controls a cursor on a PC. It would also unlock three-dimensional controls similar to those offered by Nintendo's Wii controller.

The wand, which was revealed in a patent filing published for the first time this week, would control the movement of a cursor displayed on a TV screen by the position and orientation at which it is held by the user. As the user moves the wand, the on-screen cursor would follow.

Unlike the current 5-button remote shipping with the current version of Apple TV, the wand would be capable of controlling a plurality of new operations and applications that may be available from the media system, including for example zoom operations, a keyboard application, an image application, an illustration application, and a media application.

According to Apple, the Apple TV media system could identify the movements of the wand using any suitable motion detection component such as an embedded accelerometer or a gyroscope. Another approach for identifying the movements of the wand would be to determine its absolute position relative to one or more infrared modules positioned adjacent to the screen in the living room.

"The wand may include an optical component for capturing images of the infrared modules, and may calculate its orientation and distance from the modules based on the captured images," the company said. "In some embodiments, the electronic device may direct the infrared modules to identify the position of an infrared emitter incorporated on the wand, and may calculate the absolute position of the wand relative to the infrared modules."

By incorporating the wand controller into future Apple TVs, Apple would unlock a tremendous amount of capability in its set-top-box interface while blurring the lines between a conventional PC and a media system. In one example, the company shows how pressing the remote's menu button would trigger a Dock to rise from the bottom of the Apple TV screen, which users could then navigate by moving the wand from left to right.

The wand could also incorporate several new selection techniques that would reduce dependency on physical buttons such as the menu/select button on the current Apple remote.

"In some embodiments, the user may provide a selection input by moving wand in a particular manner," Apple said. "For example, the user may flick wand (e.g., move wand in circular pattern), rotate wand in a particular manner (e.g., perform a rotation of wand), move wand a particular distance off screen, or any other suitable movement of wand."

When it comes to navigating album art or other media presented in CoverFlow mode, the user could draw a circular pattern on the screen to cause the CoverFlow carousel to rotate, displaying different selectable options. Wand movements could also direct the carousel to turn in a particular direction based on the direction in which it's rotated.

When inside Apple TV's photo application, similar movements would allow the user to navigate large sets of thumbnails and make selections. However, a more powerful aspect may the ability of the wand to zoom in and out of images based on its proximity to the screen.

"To zoom out, the user may move wand away from screen such that the distance between wand and screen may be larger than the initial distance between wand and [the] screen," Apple explained. "The larger distance between wand and screen may be depicted by the position of wand relative [to its] origin. [...] In some embodiments, the user may provide an input in the z-direction (e.g., to zoom out) by providing an appropriate input with an input mechanism without moving wand. For example, the user may roll a scroll wheel, provide an input on a touchpad, or move a joystick to provide an input in the z-direction and zoom out the image of [the] screen."

Rotating the wand could also serve to rotate and skew images on the screen:

Another advantage of the wand would be its ability to trigger a keyboard application from within any of Apple TV's core applications and provide swifter input. Instead of navigating the keyboard with left, right, up, and down arrows, the "user may select a character on the displayed line by pointing wand at a particular character to place cursor over the character," Apple said. "To access other characters not displayed on a particular line, the user may select one of [the] arrows to scroll [a] line to the left or to the right. In some embodiments, the user may simply place cursor at the left or right edge of the screen to scroll [a] line."

Apple goes on in the massive 64-page filing to describe methods for using the wand to control media scrubber bars, jump around the Apple TV interface, and serve as a digital pen for an illustration application.

The May 2008 filing is credited to Apple employees Duncan Kerr and Nicholas King.

In January acting chief executive Tim Cook said, "We will continue to invest [in Apple TV], because we believe there is something there for us in the future." Cook's comments were in the context of the news that unit sales were up over three times year-over-year. He still cautioned Apple is considering the device a hobby, as Steve Jobs has often said since its release.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Used Games: Howard Beale Edition

For years video game platforms and publishers alike worshipped at the alter of the channel - victims of Stockholm Syndrome. We put up with extortive demands for MDF, price protection demands and shelving charges all because we can't piss off the channel. We acquiesce to uniform box size because it's what the channel wants. We make sure the box covers are not offensive because the channel demands it. We can't sell units on line at a discount because the channel will get angry. Most significantly, we can't distribute digitally because the channel will get angry. We take their abuse and delude ourselves into believing retail prices are not eroding even though channel charges continue to escalate. But with Amazon, Best Buy and Toys R Us announcing they are following Gamestop’s lead and getting into the used game business it is time for our Howard Beale Moment. While they think they are claiming a beachhead, we have the power to make it their Waterloo. As proven out by the music industry, shifts to online distribution are tsunamis, not rising tides. In a world of 30 some million connected consoles and hundreds of millions connected PC's the channel we can seize control and force them to cater to us. It is time for our industry to show them consumer loyalty lies with the content, not the retailer.

Even the movie business is crying revolution and they are a bunch of market fearing, research heavy, herd mentality, wanna be like the other guys, sunglass at night wearing, take my picture, babies. I’ve traveled among them and they are not half the warriors you are:

[p]erhaps, desperate times call for desperate measures; which might explain why 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will start making two different versions of its DVDs: a stripped-down version for DVD rentals, and a premium version with extras for DVD sales.

Variety's Video Business reports that starting with the March 31 DVD releases of Marley and Me and Slumdog Millionaire, Fox will put this new strategy into place. The retail DVD SKU for Slumdog Millionaire will contain "special features including deleted scenes and commentaries;" while the rental DVD SKU will only have the movie and trailers. There will be variations on this theme depending on the particular title; for instance, the rental DVD and Blu-ray SKUs of Marley and Me will both include special features, but the retail Blu-ray version will be "a combo pack with a DVD movie and digital copy."
. . .
As to the justification behind this strategy, it is all about differentiation--making the retail version of the DVD movies appear that have more value than the rental version. This might increase the possibility that someone would buy a DVD instead of renting it, as well as possibly reducing the likelihood that previous-viewed DVDs can also cannibalize new DVD sales. Fox provided a statement to Video Business that stated:

"We have developed product variations to feed different consumer consumption models and behaviors... For rental customers, we're delivering a theatrical experience in the home while promoting upcoming releases; for retail [or sell-through] customers, we're offering a premium product that expands the entertainment experience of that particular property to further enhance ownership."

At the risk of mixing icons, stand up, step to your window, open it up, raise a fist in the air and yell with me:


I've written a lot about used games and there is no reason to get into it here again. Suffice it to say, no matter how many times our friends at Gamestop say it, repeating a lie will not make it the truth. The more they do it, the more the insult our intelligence. Because they continue to spread their used game propaganda and fail to realize they are biting the very hand that feeds them, they will be the first victims of the revolution. How dare they have the hubris to build nearly one half of their game software business on the sale of games they don’t pay for and tell us they are doing us a favor? Our revolution will change the way we connect with our customer and will send waves through every aspect of our business. It won't be pretty, and there will be carnage, but it must be done. Perhaps some innocent store managers and employees who really don't believe in the sale of used games will be caught in the carnage, and I am sorry, but collateral damage is a fact of war.

I want to be clear, I am not calling for destruction of the channel– it will still have value to us - we just have to show our solidarity by taking down the largest in a statement to all the others of what will happen if the continue down this course. Any one lacking confidence in our strength can try to pick up a CD at Tower Records, The Wherehouse, Sam Goody or half of the Virgin Megastores. If there is still any question, explain the difference to me between their bits and ours.

The game channel grew from the same fundamental inefficiency eliminated by the music industry, the delivery of the bits. Our respective channels made money through elimination of this inefficiency. In our case, and formerly in the music business, intermediaries delivered bit filled pieces of plastic to our consumers. They exacerbate the inefficiency, created further friction and sustained their place in the market by converting our customers to theirs - even though we are the ones bringing them in. No one goes to a store for the name on the door. They go to the store for the content we put on the shelves. When the need to deliver music bits on plastic went away, by fiat of their consumer, so did the retailers who added no value beyond aggregation. Music retailers did not die from illegal file sharing. They died from a lack of value. content controlled. In contrast, added value retailers survived and quite painfully another a third party intermediary stepped in to once again extract its tithe from the music creators.

I draw the line between Walmart/Target/Bestbuy and Apple/Amazon. The market has fundamentally changed but the former builds the artist while the latter builds their audience. One adds value to the artists, the other, to themselves. WTB realized their music business was going away. It was no longer good enough to just add real estate and diesel fuel. They had to add value to the bits to get consumers to come to them rather than download. After some exploration, they discovered the point of maximum leverage for their investment is at the artist level. By promoting the artist the way the music label used to do, they were able to drive traffic into the store and move units. The store is no longer fungible with all other stores. They now have a USP. The artists benefit from a marketing program well beyond those received from music labels, and their name is promoted along side the store. Did you see the wacky thing there? Rather than collecting MDF and channel fees, WTB actually paid money to the content and in these cases, directly to the artist, a very clear value add. Before you argue these deals are limited only to the upper echelons of the business, realize only the upper echelon still receive investment in promotion and development from the labels. Which developers are commanding publisher deals now? Even though WTB are acting in their own interest, there is a net value add to the artists. As much as it pains me to take an adverse position to my dear Apple, this is simply not the case with the on line retailers, and especially the largest.

Apple promotes the freedom of the artist, but they don't promote the artist. iTunes attracts consumers through the same aggregation as the extinct physical retailers, and provides the artist with only a substitute for the record label - without the advance and music video money. The complaint about labels and the channel was they made all the money and paid the artists only a pittance. In an inverse Gillette business model, Apple collects all of the money on the sale of the razors and gives the blades away for free. Likewise, Amazon and other on line players without hardware made money only on the aggregate sale of music, with no individual artist ever doing very well.

The lesson to be learned is we have value. We can fall prey to a short term appeal of an aggregator providing a ready made audience we can build their brand while providing our content for free, or we can command value from the channel commensurate with the value of our content. If we don’t take action, the channel will make the determination for us.

Ok, you waded through the inner recesses of my mind to get to the revolution part. If you are still with me, let’s talk about our attack on Gamestop. I called for a boycott once before because they are the most vulnerable. The Gamestop customer is the hardcore gamer who wants a wide selection and their game on the day it comes out. This is also the gamer who has a broadband connection to one or more consoles in their home. Gamestop’s most painful impact occurs with the purchase of used games at only a 10% discount within weeks of release. It is their smallest discount level, but it is given when they ordinarily reorder. The first tier or gamers rush through their game so they can get them back to the store and receive maximum value, creating enough inventory to avoid reorders, decreasing the supply of games in the channel. However, if we make games available directly to the hardcore at or near launch, there will be no incentive to drive to the store to buy the used game. Sure we will hurt our Gamestop orders, but sales follow the path of least resistance. Most will buy on line, others will simply purchase at WTB, driving reorders in the short term and increased sales in the long term. Even at a 10% or greater discount, the publisher can generate a greater profit than selling through Gamestop.

The beauty of the attack lies in its surgical nature. We are stepping on the accelerator for direct distribution, but we are not fighting on multiple fronts. The WTB buyer is more opportunistic. While there is some overlap with Gamestop, they are largely outside the hardcore. These are the folks who require us to buy network television ads to reach them. Games are significant to them, but their consumers are in the store for other reasons. They pick up a game while they are their to pick up milk and deodorant – well- maybe Mountain Dew and not deodorant. This is why WTB is still in the retail music business and dedicated stores are all gone. We can even make them our allies by providing added value download for physical units purchased at WTB. Of course WTB would pay for those and co market. Who knows, maybe they will even pay developers directly . . . SHHHHHH don’t tell.

Once we get to the other side, we will realize the USD 59.95 price point, and even the USD 49.95 were not carved in stone by the finger of the almighty. They are an industry created construct, which continues to drive us to make USD 20 million “Fields of Dreams.” In this insidious cycle, the consumer demands a certain amount of gameplay for their dollar and we supply it. Perhaps in this new world we will be able to build games of all sizes at various price points. Without inventory we can shift prices up and down and all around until we determine the proper price for each type of game. Really, Gabe Newell says its ok. We can take risks again. New mechanics and gameplay can be released in smaller versions or even to limited large scale beta groups to see if we are on the right track before putting in the second USD 15 to 17 million. We can even capture the long tail currently exploited by Gamestop in their bargain bin.

I don’t know if I’ve seen the future or if the revolution will even happen in time to rescue the industry as we know it. I do know we can’t be so ignorant as to believe we are immune to the reconfiguration of the markets for every other form of media. If we don’t choose to be proactive in the change, it will be done for us and we won’t be happy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Apple's Unlisted Number: WTF Edition

I sent my computer in for repairs and as I was driving by I wanted to call the Apple Store to see if I could come by and pick it up. They have this whole triage thing going on with the Genius Bar and I didn't know if I had jump through another set of hoops. Unfortunately, I did not have the store's number with me. I called information FROM MY iPHONE, the one EXCLUSIVELY on the AT&T network and the conversation went something like this:

City and state please.

Santa Monica, the Apple Store.

I am sorry we have no listing.

It's the Apple Store on Third Street Promenade.

I heard you sir, I am sorry, I have no listing, I have an Apple Computer executive training in Santa Monica California,

No, I just want the Apple Store.

Transferring to a supervisor

May I help you?

Yes I would like the listing of the Apple Store at the Third Street Promenade.

Checking . . . I am sorry sir, there is no listing.

How could it not be listed?

We are a paid information service. Only paying companies are listed.

thank you.

Yes really, and no, I don't get it either.