PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Hitting those post-holiday sales is a good way of stocking up, but it won't get you that discontinued device you were looking for.It was the end of the road for a lot of popular brands, gadgets, vehicles and totems of American culture in 2012. While some consumers mourned strictly aesthetic changes to their shopping routines, whole chunks of their shopping selection left the marketplace this year. Even if holiday and post-holiday sales were stronger at year's end, it wouldn't have saved many of these freshly departed pillars of commerce. We took a look back at 2012 and found six items that were worth picking up this year, if only because you can't do so next year: The white MacBook
It was an Apple (AAPL) fixture since 2006, it was the collegiate student body's Mac on the cheap for more than half a decade and its glowing logo behind the monitor lit the dark corners of many a coffee shop. Though it left retail shelves last year, Apple just stopped selling it to schools in February.In the Apple world, the old reliable MacBook may as well have been an Underwood typewriter. The hardy, pale MacBook still had a cooling fan and a slot for playing, ripping and burning discs. Only three years ago, it still had a spot for an ethernet jack. These are all Smithsonian-worthy features for a company that seems to think that viewing items through anything other than a high-resolution Retina screen is tantamount to staring at petroglyphs. Want Apple's cheap option with a keyboard? The MacBook Air with its flash memory, faster USB ports and Thunderbolt display options fill the $999 niche. If you're looking cheaper, Apple's really trying to interest you in an iPad. Each product promises to be the workhorse the MacBook was before, but without the heat, weight and lag problems. Still, it's going to be tough for Macs in general to generate as much excitement as they did during old MacBook era. Overall Mac sales grew 7% in fiscal 2012, scant compared with 59% growth for the iPad and a 71% bump for the iPhone. Though much of Mac's sluggishness comes from a 6% drop in desktop sales, the MacBook's 12% sales growth is the slowest among items that posted gains last year. Only desktops and iPods -- which saw sales plummet 25% in 2012 -- performed worse. At a time PC sales are sliding and tech market research firms such as Gartner ( IT) are predicting a downturn in the computer market overall, the slow fade of the Mac and MacBook aren't surprising. The white MacBook's departure is just a reminder of how far the laptop's star has fallen.
Newsweek readers saw the day coming when editor-in-chief Tina Brown's Daily Beast site merged with a a nearly 80-year-old publication and shifted its focus.Gone were the doctors' waiting room long reads on political and global affairs. A redesign last year broadened the magazine's focus, cranked up the sensationalism on the cover and turned the interior into a nugget of analysis wrapped in a best-of compilation of online content. Newsweek lost more than 50% of its readers between 2007 and last year, while circulation fell below 1.5 million. Spin was similarly troubled as the young music fans that were the publication's base during its '90s heyday abandoned it long ago for blogs and sites such as Pitchfork. Buzzmedia took over the magazine in July, made it bimonthly and laid off a third of the staff. Spin's shift to online and mobile may also be a bit late, as its subscriber base sank to fewer than 330,000. So how does it work out when old media mainstays make an abrupt and awkward shift online? Ask Rupert Murdoch and the staff of The Daily, the iPad-only news publication that folded this year after consumers showed no real demand for such a thing. Its failure not only cost a bunch of people their jobs, but it may have pushed News Corp.'s ( NWS) decision to split off its publishing companies from its television and film operations after Murdoch routinely used profits from the latter to cover losses by the former. A Suzuki automobile
Think about the last time you remember America getting excited about a Suzuki product.Was it back in 1988, when Consumer Reports accused the popular but top-heavy Suzuki Samurai of being rollover prone? Was it during the 1990s, when the Suzuki Sidekick won hearts as General Motors' ( GM) Geo and Chevrolet Tracker and gave the> American driving public its first look at the small SUV market that would eventually give us the Toyota ( TM) RAV4 and Honda ( HMC) CR-V? We can't remember, but neither can most American car buyers. Suzuki sold little more than 23,000 cars in the U.S. in the first 11 months of the year, down 3.9% from last year and including a 19.2% drop in car sales. By comparison, Toyota sold eight times as many total vehicles in November alone. American Suzuki, the company's U.S. branch, is $346 million in debt. Half of that is owed solely to its Japanese parent company. It has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and vowed that when it emerges, it will pull Suzuki automobiles out of the U.S. market and sell only motorcycles, ATVs and outboard boat engines. The shame is that Suzukis weren't bad little cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Suzuki Kizashi its highest rating on a tough new crash test that measures a vehicle's reaction to being hit at 40 miles per hour on the outside of its front bumper. The Toyota Camry outright failed that test, but sold 29,000 vehicles in the U.S. in November. Only 500 Kizashis were sold here during that same span.
You can mock the twinkly vampires, you can shake your head at the tabloid stories surrounding stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and you can roll your eyes at the middle-aged folks writing fan fiction about it, but never doubt the money-making power of the Twilight film series.Forget the sales of Stephanie Meyer's vaguely Mormon books that launched the Twilight built on vampire/lycan/teen romance. Just look at the numbers: Combined, the five films in the series have taken in nearly $3.3 billion worldwide since 2008. A Twilight film has been the top-grossing U.S. film in three of the past five holiday seasons, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Between the first weekend in November and the last weekend in December, Twilight brought in $193 million in the U.S. in 2008, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 yielded $281 million last year and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 finished this year with more than $282 million. The films transformed parent company Summit Entertainment from an Oscar-winning art-house shop and occasional teen movie maker to a well-rounded nine-figure commodity. Lions Gate Entertainment ( LGF) paid $412 million for Summit, its film library and rights to the Twilight series. We can't guarantee that Twilight won't return to theaters again, as a one-night-only reshowing of the first two films brought in $2.4 million in 2010 and new owners Lions Gate may want some of that vampire money for themselves. Considering Lions Gate already has the rights to films from the next big book-to-screen series, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, the Twilight films take their place on the shelf next to Harry Potter and collect dust for a bit. Twinkies
Go ahead, be mad.Be mad at Hostess' bakers union for striking over wage and benefit concessions. Be mad at Hostess' chief executive, Gregory Rayburn, for not cutting a dime out of his multimillion-dollar pay or other executives' bonuses. But please consider what you're mad at. America's shifting dietary habits aside, the Twinkie as a product hasn't been healthy in a while. Its first parent company, Continental Bakery, was passed around by owners including ITT ( ITT), Ralston Purina and Interstate Bakeries. The last company spent 2004 through 2009 in bankruptcy before changing its name to Hostess Brands. The identity shift didn't help, as the company went bankrupt again two years later. Hostess' assets have been liquidated and its brands have drawn interest from Kroger ( KR), Wal-Mart ( WMT), Target ( TGT) and others and the snack can be sneaked in from Canada, but the days of widely available Twinkies may be over. Every supermarket chain has a knockoff version, Hostess competitor McKee Foods and its Little Debbie brand have continued selling the similar Dream Cakes during the Twinkie's hiatus and competitors such as Flowers Foods ( FLO) have kept regional favorites such as Tastykake alive and kicking. So who are you really mad at? Scapegoats aside, the Twinkie's turbulent financial history should have made die-hard Hostess fans queasy long before now. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.