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On Monday BlackBerry was forced to lay off several dozen members of its US sales team as the company continues its downward spiral amidst massive financial woes. The news came in from the Wall Street Journal which cited information from sources close to the company.
BlackBerry has been on a continued downward slope for several years now, and things took a drastic turn for the worse when the company's new mobile OS, BlackBerry 10, failed to meet industry expectations. The company's flagship smartphones the Z10 and Q10 also failed to compete with their Android, iOS and Windows Phone competitors, which is led to the company putting itself up for sale.
A spokesperson for BlackBerry told the Wall Street Journal that they "Can confirm a small number of employees were laid off" on Monday, but declined to give any further details. It's my opinion that BlackBerry will be sold off to either Samsung or Apple, and will see its hardware division tossed to the side with one of the two companies porting BlackBerry's enterprise software over to their platform in an effort to gain enterprise market dominance.
Following yesterday's launch of Apple's next-generation iPhones, the company saw its stock drop more than 5-percent this morning shortly after the markets opened. The drop saw Apple's stock dipped below $466 per share, and was the direct result of UBS, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Bank of America all downgrading their ratings on the company's stock.
Of course a drop in investor confidence was also a major factor as many feel that the so-called "cheaper" iPhone 5C was just not cheap enough. Investors were hoping for a low-end model that would be able to compete with cheaper Android phones in emerging markets such as China. Unfortunately the news that the iPhone 5C would cost Chinese customers more than $700 (roughly two times the monthly salary of those who work in the factories that make the iPhone) was just to astronomically high for most consumers in the country.
"The lower-priced iPhone 5c may not be priced low enough, in our view, which could limit incremental penetration of the midrange smartphone segment," writes Mark Moskowitz, an analyst at JP Morgan. At the time of this writing Apple's stock had dipped to almost a 7-percent drop since closing yesterday.
Apple is on the verge of releasing two new smartphones, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Both of which are the company's latest push for consumers to hand over their money before the holidays, but what do new products require? Marketing.
The Cupertino-based company is reportedly looking for between 200-300 new marketing employees, which would see a doubling in the amount of its current in-house marketing team. Ad Age reports that when Steve Jobs was CEO, there was a cap of how big the in-house marketing team could grow, but now that he's gone, that cap is too.
Apple will continue working with ad agencies, but the new team will be "tackling more projects, doing everything from site design to tutorial videos for Apple products to maintaining a large internal commercial-production facility."
SK Hynix provided an update today, where it has said that the fab that was damaged by the fire is still being evaluated, but the second fab has been re-opened. The company said in a statement: "Our plan is to resume normal operations with full production capacity in the shortest time by ramping up operations in stages as soon as the damaged facilities are replaced."
Handy says that this seems to contradict earlier reports from the company, where it said it would see operations resumed quickly so that production volume wouldn't be impacted in the long-term. SK Hynix has said that it has inventory in Korea, where they said: "We will continue to make every effort to minimize the impact on supply with our inventories of finished products and completely processed wafers as well as production support from our headquarters."
HTC has been on the downward spiral for quite sometime now, but its latest revenue report for August is quiet disappointing. Even with the HTC One smartphone being a success, the company only made $443.3 million, which is 16% lower than July's numbers.
Even worse, it's the worst they've seen in six months with HTCSource.com reporting that August's numbers are 45% lower than it was at the same time last year. The problem now is bringing the numbers up going into September, which would require a 60% increase in sales which simply isn't going to happen. Do you think HTC will make it until 2014? I see the company being acquired by a bigger player such as Google, rolling it into its Motorola business.
Carl Icahn has called it quits and given up his fight to take control of Dell Computers. Icahn announced his intent to cease his fight to take over control of Dell in a newsletter he sent out to shareholders earlier today. This leaves the door wide open for Dell CEO Michael Dell to finally take the company private after 14 long months of Icahn's blockade.
Michael Dell, along with private equity firm Silver Lake, will come together to purchase all outstanding shares of the company for $25 billion in an effort to take it private. Dell has agreed to pay $13.75 per share, issuing a one-time dividend to shareholders in exchange for a modification to the way votes are tallied. This new method will ensure that only votes that are actually submitted will count towards the final tally, thus giving Dell and Silver Lake control of the company.
Today, Newegg announced that it has won yet another battle in its ongoing fight against the notorious "patent trolls" Soverain Software and TQP Development. Newegg says that on September 4, 2013, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated an additional claim made by Soverian Software LLC on its "Shopping Cart" patent.
Additionally, the court denied Soverain's request for a rehearing of the initial January 22, 2013 decision that invalidated the balance of the asserted claims. As a result of this decision, Newegg says that all patent claims asserted by Soverain have been held invalid for being no more than obvious variations of old patents held by CompuServe technology.
Newegg says that it is looking forward to going to trial later this year against TQP Development LLC, a shell company affiliated with the notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg. Newegg says that it hopes that Spangenberg will allow the patent to be tested by the court system this time around and feels that it will be the end to the "shopping cart" patent for good.
The Wall Street Journal has recently released a report that indicates that BlackBerry is planning to "run a fast auction process" in an effort to get the company under new ownership before the end of November of this year.
The report goes on to say that BlackBerry has narrowed its list of potential buyers and should begin the sale process "soon." No mention was made of who these buyers could be, nor was any asking price quoted in the article.
I'm actually hoping that either Apple or Samsung will pick up the troubled company. Either one could take the company's enterprise software, port it to their own operating system, and dominate the corporate smartphone market. I have a hunch that one of the buyers is Samsung and that they could be a strong contender to pick up the company after recent reports that BlackBerry Messenger will hit Galaxy Devices before other Android Handsets.
Today, a new report from Bloomberg suggests that Lenovo CEO, Yang Yuanqing, plans on giving away $3.25 million of his bonus to 10,000 of the company's lowest paid workers. Workers in 20 countries will get the payments, including a facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, where Lenovo's US headquarters is located.
The deal works out to about $325 per employee, which may not sound like much to the US crowd, but $325 is just about the equivalent of one month's pay for the company's workers in China where 85 percent of the company's employees are located. Yang says that he is giving away a significant portion of his annual bonus so that all employees understand the impact they have on making Lenovo the largest PC manufacturer in the world.
10,000 workers only work out to about a third of Lenovo's total employees, but Yang has decided to give the payouts to those who earn the least amount, are paid by the hour, or not eligible for commission or other bonuses that would increase their normal rate of pay. The $3.25 million will not affect Mr. Yang, though, as last year he earned 14.6 million and owns roughly 7 percent of the company's stock.
Nothing stirs up the rumor mill quite like a major corporation purchasing another major corporation shortly after the first corporation's CEO announces his retirement. With this morning's announcement that Microsoft is in the process of purchasing Nokia's Devices and Services business, reports are starting to come in that Nokia boss, Stephen Elop, could land in the CEO chair when Microsoft's Steve Ballmer departs from the company sometime in the next 12 months.
During an interview with the Seattle Times, Ballmer said that Elop will be moved from an external list of possible candidates to an internal list that could fast-track him into becoming the CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer did note that the board will continue to consider all appropriate candidates through the process and that Elop is still merely a candidate. So at the moment, it is still up in the air about who will fill Ballmer's seat when he leaves, but I would say the chances are high that Elop will take the helm and guide Microsoft for the years to come.