Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gas prices rise, July 4 travel down

Retail gas and diesel prices pushed higher overnight, a daily survey by motorist group AAA showed Sunday. Continued near-record prices are expected to curtail Americans' travel plans during the July 4 holiday weekend.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gas increased seven-tenths of a cent to $4.079 from $4.072 the day before.

According to AAA, 31 states and the District of Columbia are now paying over $4.00 a gallon on average.

Alaska edged out California for the title of highest gas prices in the nation. Drivers there pay $4.611 a gallon on average, while in the golden state, a gallon of regular gasoline averages $4.584.

The third highest gas prices are in Hawaii, where a gallon of gas costs $4.436.

Missouri has the lowest gas prices. Drivers in that state pay $3.850 a gallon on average.

The survey also showed that the national average price for a gallon of diesel fuel rose two-tenths of a cent to $4.764 from $4.762 the previous day.
Cutting back on travel

AAA said it expects a decline in the number of Americans traveling during the Fourth of July holiday travel period.

The motorist group projects that 40.45 million drivers will travel during the holiday weekend. That's down 1.3% from the 41 million who traveled last year.

"Clearly gas prices are continuing to take a toll on the traveler's budget," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet in a statement.

Still, more than 13% of the U.S. population will be on the road this holiday weekend, according to AAA. And more than 34.2 million Americans, nearly 85% of all holiday travelers, intend to travel by automobile, a 1.2% decrease from 34.6 million people last year.

Approximately 4.54 million Americans expect to travel by airplane, down 2.3% from the 4.64 million last year. Nearly 1.7 million plan to travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation, AAA reported.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mac hits record 7.8% market share in Net Applications survey

After drifting inexplicably in February, March and April — actually losing market share in two out of three months just when Macintosh sales seemed to be on fire — Mac OS X recovered smartly in the Net Applications survey issued overnight Sunday.

Apple’s (AAPL) share of the operating system market grew 5.69% in May to hit a record 7.80%, while Windows in all its flavors dropped half a point to 91.17%. That’s a record low for Microsoft (MSFT), which nonetheless still runs on 9 out of 10 computers on the Internet, as Net Applications measures it (more on its methodology below).

The iPhone’s OS market share, whch Net Applications measures separately from OS X, has temporarily leveled off, according to the report, reflecting the shortage of product as Apple cleared inventory in May and customers held off purchases in anticipation of the new 3G model. In an IDC report issued Friday, the iPhone actually lost share in the smartphone market, falling from 26.7% in the last quarter of 2007 to 19.2% in the first quarter of 2008. RIM (RIMM), meanwhile, gained share in the same period, growing from 35.1% to 44.5% on the strength of new, consumer-oriented BlackBerries.

The discrepancy between IDC’s and NetApplication’s numbers can be explained to some extent by the nature of the two surveys. IDC’s quarterly reports are sales counts, based on surveys of retail outlets. Net Applications, by contrast, collects data from the browsers of visitors — some 160 million per month — to its customers websites. As such, its findings are probably better described as a snapshot of installed base taken from a less-than-random sample. But the results are useful for indicating trends, and tend to correspond well to domestic market share as measured by more traditional methods.

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