Nokia to announce its first manufacturing plant in Vietnam on April 23rd

April 16th at 9:10 PM

Nokia to announce its first manufacturing plant in Vietnam on April 23rd

Over the last few months, Nokia has closed scaled back several of its Western factories and shed over 3,000 employees in a recent effort to cut costs. The Finnish handset maker will shift its manufacturing business to Asia and is planning to build a plant in Vietnam, a move that is expected to cost some $300 million according to Vietnamese news organization BaoMoi. “Shifting device assembly to Asia is targeted at improving our time to market. By working more closely with our suppliers, we believe that we will be able to introduce innovations into the market more quickly and ultimately be more competitive,” Nokia EVP of Markets Niklas Savander previously said. The company will reportedly hold a press conference to officially announce the project on April 23rd. The plant could create as many as 10,000 new jobs and is expected to produce 45 million handsets by the end of 2014. More →

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Netflix paid $1 million for a recommendation algorithm it never used

April 13th at 3:20 PM

Netflix paid $1 million for a recommendation algorithm it never used

Netflix in 2006 held an open competition to find the collaborative filtering algorithm that would best predict whether or not a user would like a particular film or TV show based on previous ratings. The grand prize of $1 million was awarded to a team called “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” in 2009. The team’s algorithm was found to be 10% more effect than Netflix’s own recommendation service, however the company never implemented the team’s solution into its own service. “We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment,” Netflix finally explained in a recent blog post. “Also, our focus on improving Netflix personalization had shifted to the next level by then.” The company said because the majority its users were streaming videos rather than renting DVDs, it wasn’t logical to integrate the algorithm into its recommendation service, which is different for its streaming service and DVD rental program. More →

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Following Apple dividend, Google shareholders seek the same

April 12th at 3:20 PM

Following Apple dividend, Google shareholders seek the same

A number of Google shareholders are asking for the Internet giant to follow in Apple’s footsteps and return part of its $44.6 billion in cash to investors, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Google has more cash as a percentage of market value than five of its largest competitors, including Apple. The iPhone maker recently reinstated a dividend and unveiled plans for a $10 billion stock buyout last month. Google is currently the only U.S. technology company with a market value of more than $125 billion that doesn’t offer a regular shareholder payout. The Mountain View-based company’s cash has almost doubled since 2009, and it has increased by between $2 billion and $3 billion each quarter. A dividend would ease the tensions between the company and its investors, who have endured a 1.5% decline this year. “There’s a pattern here that makes sense, and I’m sure Google will figure out the right thing to do,” said Michael Holland, chairman of Holland & Co., a New York investment firm that oversees more than $4 billion in assets. “It’s a little bit of a victory dance, if you will, to be able to have the sort of cash surplus that a company like Apple does and Google does. To share some of it is sharing the victory dance.” More →

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AT&T fails to reach terms with workers union

April 10th at 12:45 AM

AT&T fails to reach terms with workers union

AT&T was unable to reach a settlement with the Communications Workers of America by the April 7th deadline to extend Four Core Wireline contracts. More than 40,000 employees will continue to work under the terms of the expired contract, however, as negotiations between the two parties continue. “The ongoing negotiation reflects the spirit of the longstanding relationship between the company and the union,” AT&T said. The carrier is looking to reduce worker benefits to cut costs in its wireline business, which has declined rapidly in recent years. The workers union has said that AT&T is seeking too many concessions, however, and instead wants the company to make adjustments to workers’ healthcare plans. The Communications Worker of America represents nearly 16% of AT&T’s 256,000 workers and it does possess the ability to call a strike if agreements on new contracts are not reached. AT&T’s press release follows below. More →

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Sony to cut approximately 10,000 jobs

April 9th at 11:30 PM

Sony to cut approximately 10,000 jobs

Sony will reportedly cut 10,000 jobs, or roughly 6% of its global workforce, in an effort to bring the electronics giant back to profit, Nikkei reported on Monday. The majority of the layoffs will apparently come from consolidating the company’s chemicals and small and mid-size LCD operations, and are expected to be made over the next two years.  The report claims Sony’s new CEO Kazuo Hirai will announce his restructuring plan on April 12th, and the company may also ask seven executive directors, including Hirai and former CEO Howard Stringer, to give up their bonuses for the fiscal year that ended in March. Sony has denied the report. More →

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AOL sells 800 patents to Microsoft in $1 billion deal

April 9th at 8:40 AM

AOL sells 800 patents to Microsoft in $1 billion deal

AOL and Microsoft on Monday announced an agreement in which the software giant will purchase 800 patents from AOL in a $1.056 billion cash deal. Microsoft will also license more than 300 additional patents from AOL as part of the agreement. “The agreement with Microsoft represents the culmination of a robust auction process for our patent portfolio,” said Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and CEO. “We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.” The portfolio sold relates to advertising, search, content generation and management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming and security. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, pending regulatory approval. Read on for AOL’s press release. More →

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Research in Motion loses more senior executives

April 6th at 4:10 PM

Research in Motion loses more senior executives

Research in Motion has lost a number of senior-level executives in recent days amid a broad review of the company’s strategic options, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Alistair Mitchell, RIM’s vice president of the BlackBerry Messenger instant-messaging platform, is among several executives who have left the company according to the report. A company spokeswoman confirmed to the Journal that Mitchell is “no longer with RIM.” The spokeswoman also confirmed that Alan Brenner, a senior vice president of the BlackBerry platform, would be “leaving the company after a transition period.” RIM posted disappointing fourth quarter sales last week, leading to the departure of company co-founder Jim Balsillie, chief technology officer David Yach and chief operating officer Jim Rowan. The struggling company said it is facing significant challenges, and it is currently reviewing strategic opportunities and potential partnerships. More →

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LightSquared considering bankruptcy after being derailed by regulators

April 5th at 11:00 PM

LightSquared considering bankruptcy after being derailed by regulators

LightSquared founder Phillip Falcone said he may consider voluntary bankruptcy for his troubled wireless broadband venture, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. “There are arguments that we would be better off in bankruptcy than not,” Falcone said. “LightSquared, if I have to, I’ll put it into bankruptcy. I don’t care,” adding that he would maintain control of the company if it were to file. LightSquared planned to build a high-speed data network that would cover as many as 260 million users, however it failed to gain approval from federal regulators. The FCC blocked LightSquared’s LTE network in February due to concerns surrounding interference with GPS systems. Through his hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, Falcone has invested roughly $3 billion in the failed venture. Bankruptcy is “not what I want, not what I desire, I’d rather find a different way out,” he said. More →

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Apple’s Tim Cook named most popular CEO of 2012

March 30th at 8:30 PM

Apple’s Tim Cook named most popular CEO of 2012

Glassdoor on Friday revealed its latest list of the “Top 25 Highest Rated CEOs of 2012.” Apple’s Tim Cook took the top spot with a 97% approval rating, leading Ernst & Young’s Jim Turley, Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs and Google’s Larry Page. “I think leadership is doing an amazing job,” said one Apple employee. “We have the best management team anywhere.” When Steve Jobs stepped down in August 2011, the late Apple co-founder garnered a cumulative approval rating of 97%, however Cook leads Jobs’s rating of 95% from March 2010 to March 2011. While it has been a tough year for Hewlett-Packard, the company’s new CEO Meg Whitman also made the list with an 80% approval rating, placing her in the  No. 24 spot. Glassdoor bases the list entirely on feedback from anonymous employees who were asked one question — do they approve of the way their CEO is leading the company? More →

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Sony eliminates two divisions, restructures electronics unit

March 27th at 11:20 PM

Sony eliminates two divisions, restructures electronics unit

In a effort to cut costs and improve its financial situation, Sony is eliminating two divisions at its main electronics unit, promoting three executives and keeping a close eye on its money-losing television unit, Bloomberg’s Businessweek reported on Tuesday. The Japanese company will shut down its consumer products and services group, which handled consumer-level electronics, and the professional device and solutions group, which handled business oriented products and components. Executive Deputy President Hiroshi Yoshioka, who oversaw the professional device and solutions group, will head the company’s newly created medical business unit. Sony spokeswoman Satsuki Shinnaka said all changes will be effective April 1st and are aimed at speeding up management decisions. On the same date, the company will welcome its new president and CEO Kazuo Hirai. Hiari is largely credited with making Sony’s PlayStation game business profitable and will be looking to do the same with the company’s Bravia television unit, which is expected to post its fourth straight annual loss. More →

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Sharp and Foxconn enter into manufacturing partnership

March 27th at 5:15 PM

Sharp and Foxconn enter into manufacturing partnership

Sharp on Tuesday announced that is has entered into an manufacturing partnership with Foxconn that will see the manufacturing giant take a 10% stake in the Japanese electronics company. Hon Hai has invested nearly 67 billion yen ($809 million) in Sharp in exchange for roughly 121.65 million new shares, which will be spread out between four Foxconn companies. Sharp CEO Takashi Okuda said, “Until now we have handled all of our R&D and manufacturing, but going forward we will need to include partnerships in our approach,” pledging to leverage both companies’ strengths to get products to market efficiently. Each company will hold a 46.5% stake in Sharp’s Sakai plant in western Japan, with the remaining 7% owned by Sony. More →

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Kim Dotcom says U.S. government is wrong about Megaupload

March 26th at 12:10 PM

Kim Dotcom says U.S. government is wrong about Megaupload

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who was arrested and charged with racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering in one of the largest criminal cases of its kind, is maintaining his innocence. Dotcom has previously questioned his accusers’ motives, claiming he isn’t a so-called piracy king, but a man who ran a legitimate business that offered online storage and bandwidth. In an interview with TorrentFreak, Dotcom said that he can refute nearly every claim in the case being brought against him. Read on for more. More →

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Nokia to cut 1,000 jobs from Finnish phone plant

March 22nd at 9:35 PM

Nokia to cut 1,000 jobs from Finnish phone plant

Nokia on Thursday announced that it will cut as many as 1,000 jobs at its plant in Salo, Finland. The company’s layoffs will happen gradually through 2012, with most cuts happening by the end of June, Reuters reported. The Salo plant is the last large cell phone manufacturing plant in Western Europe, as most businesses have moved their manufacturing to Asia. Last month, Nokia shed 2,300 workers from a plant in Komarom, Hungary and 700 others in Reynosa, Mexico as it too shifted much of its manufacturing to China. This new round of layoffs comes as part of a larger effort to cut costs following the €1 billion loss the company reported last quarter. More →

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