The Buzz

E-commerce

Toys R Us, Amazon.com court spat continues

Toys R Us won a New Jersey courts approval to end its Amazon.com partnership on March 31 and moved on to relaunch its Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com

Web sites, with e-commerce and logistics companies GSI Commerce and Exel, respectively, running the operations behind the scenes. Whats surprising is that there are still court battles looming between these divorcées.

In a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Toys R Us said that Amazon.com is using the court system in Washington state to keep the lawsuits flying. In the filing, Toys R Us said: "On June 2, 2006, Amazon.com filed a lawsuit against us in the Superior Court of Washington, County of King, (the "Washington Court") for money damages allegedly arising from services it was required to provide to us during the wind-down period pursuant to the final order entered in the New Jersey Trial Court, and for a declaration that Amazon.com may use certain customer information to market to our customers in a manner contrary to that provided in the strategic alliance agreement. The Washington Court has stayed proceedings before it in favor of the New Jersey Trial Court, and the New Jersey Trial Court has ruled that Amazon.com is not entitled to the fees it sought for services it was required to provide dur-ing the wind-down period."

Meanwhile, Toys R Us said that "based upon the filing of the Washington Court action, however, Amazon.com withheld monies due us for sales made from the co-branded stores. Amazon.com had also failed to provide the withheld amounts to us and is still seeking relief in its Washington Court action." The Washington court sent this squabble back to the New Jersey courts on Aug. 2. On Aug. 14, the New Jersey trial court told Amazon.com to deliver the withheld dough to Toys R Us, pronto.

Speaking of Toysrus.com ... The SEC filing also gave a glimpse of sales for Toysrus.com since Toys R Us took it back from Amazon.com. The details: For the 13 weeks ending July 29, Toysrus.com had sales of $52 million, down from $62 million for the same period a year ago.

Toys R Us attributed the sales decrease for Toysrus.com to a 17 percent decline in domestic orders and a 3 percent dip in average order size as it transitioned ownership of the site.

Mobile

Wheres the iPhone?

Are there iPhone remnants lurking in iTunes? That seems to be the speculation, especially after Apple Computer announced Sept. 12 a bevy of new products including new versions of the iPod and an upcoming iTV device that allows you to watch movies bought on iTunes on your TV.

Despite those announcements, Wall Street was still hoping for an iPhone. Whats the next-best thing in lieu of an iPhone? Speculation about an iPhone. The buzz is so strong that Wall Street analysts are perusing Apple enthusiast sites for scoops. For instance, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster pointed out that MacShrine (www.macshrine.com) on Sept. 12 reported that the resource files in the new iTunes 7 has messages suggesting features for a mobile phone. These features apparently dont exist on the Motorola ROKR phone.

The mysterious file message in question as reported by MacShrine: "Some of the games in your iTunes library were not copied to the mobile phone [name] because you are not authorized to play them on this computer" and "iTunes cannot sync photos to the mobile phone [name] because your iPhoto Library needs updating. Open iPhoto to update your iPhoto Library."

Whats all that mumbo jumbo mean? An iPhone is coming, Munster said in a research note. "This resource file message suggests there will be a phone that will be capable of synching with iTunes, and that the phone will support iTunes and photos," said Munster in Minneapolis. "We believe this phone is most likely the iPhone, with an outside chance the message is in reference to an upcoming phone from a current phone manufacturer."

—Compiled by Larry Dignan

By the Numbers

Bagging sales

118%

Growth in eBags.coms unique audience in August due to a busy back-to-school shopping season

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings