Lobbyists Push Legislature to Open up Rules on Alcohol Sales

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Texas has a few laws surrounding alcohol: liquor stores are closed on Sundays,  you can’t put the American flag on beer bottles, and publicly traded companies can’t own liquor stores.

Travis Thomas says it’s only a matter of time before that last law is changed. He’s the spokesman for Texans For Consumer Freedom, a lobby that wants the law removed.

“To exclude public companies from competing is arbitrary, is anticompetitive and when you consider the fact that retail stores of all kinds all compete with publicly traded companies and they do not enjoy state-mandated protections,” Thomas says. “So then what is it that makes the retail liquor market different?”

Thomas says a public company doesn’t mean what it sounds like when it comes to the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission.

“According to TABC, a public company is one that has more than 35 shareholders,” Thomas says. “Now there are many, many companies that are not publicly traded that have more than 35 shareholders.”

Brookshires Grocery is the latest one of those publicly traded companies to join the Texans for Consumer Freedom, whose members include Costco, Walmart and the Texas Business Association. The lobby says it wants to amend existing state laws and has backed bills filed in the Texas House and Senate that would eliminate the prohibition on publicly traded companies.

Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, filed one of those bills. He says that existing laws are against the principles of Texan’s belief in free market capitalism.

“We filed the bill, so we’re waiting on filing a request on the committee hearing,” Isaac says. “Once the bill goes through the committee hearing, we’re going to have testimony on both sides, and then you request a vote on the bill and then it goes to another committee called the calendars committee.”

Isaac says that he’s hopeful his bill will pass.

“Once they’re voted on the floor of the House, if they’re voted on favorably, it would go over to the senate.”

The bill has to pass those legislative hoops before it would change a law that’s been on the books since 1995—and the governor would still have to approve.

Texas Tech Makers Piggyback On Apple Watch

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Only a handful of people have actually held an Apple Watch in their hands.

Wearables have gotten a lot of hype since then, but a Piper Jaffray survey showed that of the nearly ¼ of Americans who bought a wearable, only 10 percent use theirs every day.

Quartz technology writer Mike Murphy thinks that if any company can make a wearable more – wearable, it’s Apple.

“They’re entering a market where others have failed,” Murphy says, “I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re gonna see another cultural phenomenon shift here with the watch, but who knows what could happen with Apple.”

But you need an Iphone to use the watch and the same survey showed only 7 percent of Iphone users intend to buy an Apple Watch. That’s the same rate of people who said they’d buy an Ipad in 2012. By now even the pope has one.

Most people don’t just buy an Iphone or an Ipad. They buy a case, adapters, and speakers. Sales of Apple accessories are expected to top 5 billion dollars in 2015.

John Arrow was watching Tim Cook’s announcement. And he saw an opportunity.

“One of the great things about Apple, is whenever they release a new piece of hardware, it creates this whole ecosystem of products and people have built gigantic companies based on that ecosystem,” Arrow says.

The watch will have interchangeable straps and a 2 and a half hour active battery life. Arrow’s company went to work designing a strap that can charge an Apple Watch. It’s a big risk.

First, no one in Arrow’s company has seen the Apple Watch just yet. They have to wait until April just like the rest of us.

“We’ll be out there at 1 AM in line buying up as many as we possibly can,” says Arrow.

Apple stores reportedly ban accessory makers that base their designs on leaked information. So Arrow and his team are designing based solely on the specifications Apple made public.

Second, Arrow’s betting that people will see the battery life as a problem and see his product as the solution.

“I think even though we are the first with a way to charge the AppleWatch on the band, I think there’s going to be others, Arrow says, “What it’s going to come down to is the design, the aesthetics, and the capacity. Those factors are going to be way more important than being first to market. Being first to market doesn’t hurt though either.”

Success will lie mostly with convincing Apple to carry his product inside its stores.

It’s a gamble that could pay off. Mike Murphy.

“But I think there’s always gonna be that secondary market, that opportunist market of people looking to um make products around big selling products. I mean it’s a huge huge industry right now, Murphy says, “The peripheral business for iPods, iPads and iPhones and it’s definitely going to be that way for the watch.”

The biggest question is whether the Apple Watch will live up to the hype.

J.P. Morgan forecasts that 26 million Apple Watches will be sold – Apple factories started production on 5 million this week..