Princess Rita, the burner phone Olympics and why it’s game on for Microsoft

Planet Business: ‘Back-up planners’ and ‘self-love seekers’ welcome

 

Image of the week: Beijing bound

In just a hint that staging the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing might not have been the best of the International Olympic Committee’s many brilliant ideas, athletes and officials set to converge on China have been advised to use burner phones while they’re there.

That’s because, according to cybersecurity group Citizen Lab, the official app that all Games attendees are obliged to use contains security weaknesses that leave users exposed to data breaches – a finding that certainly stifles any remaining warm glow from this year’s Olympic cauldron.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the prevailing mood, a Beijing 2022 official has declared that athletes who behave in a way that is deemed contrary to the famed “Olympic spirit” or China’s rules or laws will face “certain punishment”.

So that will be no protests against human rights abuses and no inquiries about Peng Shuai, okay? Amid new Covid lockdowns, these Games will be spectator-free, though the inevitable mascots will be knocking about: pictured above are Bing Dwen Dwen (left) and Shuey Rhon Rhon.

In numbers: Microsoft’s outlays

$500 million

Sum that Microsoft spent in late 1997 on Hotmail, everybody’s favourite 1990s email service. This was the Windows giant’s biggest acquisition at the time.

$26.2 billion

Amount Microsoft shelled out in 2016 for LinkedIn, everybody’s favourite source of updates on other people’s brilliant careers. Until this week, it was the company’s biggest acquisition to date.

$68.7 billion

Money that Microsoft is throwing at Activision Blizzard, publishers of games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, in a deal designed to help Microsoft’s Xbox console compete better with Sony’s PlayStation.

Getting to know: Princess Rita

Texas-born Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi is the widow of Italian aristocrat Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi. She’s also the ex-wife of US congressman John Jenrette and the daughter of a millionaire oilman and cattle fortune heiress.

The former actor, television reporter, real estate agent and Playboy model has been in the news because she lives at the Villa Aurora, a 16th-century property in the heart of Rome that this week failed to sell at auction after its €471 million starting price attracted no bids. The palace has 40 rooms, two roof terraces and very possibly a secret underground lair (surveys have shown there are Roman ruins under the site), though its price had been inflated by the fact it contains the only ceiling mural ever painted by Caravaggio.

The villa, which will now return to auction in April, is being sold thanks to an inheritance dispute with her late husband’s sons – Princess Rita (72) told AP last month that she finds it “relaxing” to do yoga beneath the mural’s depiction of gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. Maybe billionaires would just prefer something with a massive swimming pool.

The list: Consumer tribes

This year will see many “emerging and fast-moving” consumer trends gaining traction, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. Here are just five of the consumer types it says will define 2022.

1. Back-up planners: Faced with supply-chain chaos, back-up planners are good at “finding creative solutions to obtain alternatives”, which is always helpful if it’s your turn to make dinner.

2. Climate changers: By climate changers, Euromonitor doesn’t mean people doing their level best to change the climate, but the opposite: consumers for whom sustainability considerations are a crucial factor in how they shop.

3. Digital seniors: Was it really credible that intellectual, professional and the still relatively youthful fifty-something Miranda from Sex and the City spin-off And Just Like That never listened to podcasts? No, it was not.

4. Rural urbanites: Any remote workers who haven’t yet relocated out of the city to somewhere cheaper and more spacious will likely be appreciating the back-aching joy of gardening more than ever.

5. Self-love seekers: Acceptance, self-care and inclusion are at the forefront of consumer lifestyles, Euromonitor suggests. Self-love seekers like massages, herbal remedies and possibly other things, who can say.

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