Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Sony had an idea!

Sony launches electronics 'scrappage scheme'.

Sony will offer customers discounts for trading in old electronic equipment when they buy new models., Wednesday 28 April 2010 .

Electronics manufacturer Sony is to introduce a "scrappage" scheme to encourage customers to upgrade their TV and other equipment before the World Cup this summer.
The scheme applies to TV, DVD-R,
Blu-ray, home theatre, camera and other ranges, and offers a discount of up to £150 when old products are exchanged for selected new Sony models.
It aims to help reduce the mounting problem of TVs and other large electrical equipment being dumped by consumers in landfill.
Old items do not have to have been made by Sony and a spokeswoman said that even equipment in a poor state of repair would be accepted – and consumers trying to deliver old equipment to retail outlets might have assistance.
The scheme starts tomorrow and runs until 11 July, the day of the World Cup final.
Andy Benson, commercial director of Sony UK, said: "We understand that consumers will undoubtedly want to upgrade their kit as they prepare for the World Cup this summer, but cost is still an issue for most of us coming out of recession.
"This campaign is not only timely in helping people take their entertainment to the next level; it is also a good way to encourage the responsible disposal of old technology."

The rise, rise and rise of the Downfall Hitler parody.

The rise, rise and rise of the Downfall Hitler parody By Finlo Rohrer.
BBC News Magazine .

Five years ago Downfall's release saw the German film acclaimed for its portrayal of Hitler's last days. But since then it has become almost as famous for a wave of internet parodies of its climactic scene.

Hitler is angry.

Very angry indeed. Angry enough to order all but his most senior generals out of the room so he can vent his rage.

Coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, an Internet meme is an idea that spreads through the internet, or the spread of that idea.
Hitler is angry because Cristiano Ronaldo has been sold to Real Madrid. Or because he simply can't find Wally in "Where's Wally?". Or because Susan Boyle didn't win the Britain's Got Talent Show. Or that Hillary Clinton has lost the Democratic presidential nomination.

It's become one of the best known "internet memes" around, a comic construct that has spread inexorably on YouTube and other platforms.

But the parody makers have taken this clip, put it through a programme like Movie Maker or iMovie, and added their own subtitles, synced as closely as possible to the audio.

It is not an obvious subject for humour. Yet for millions of internet users there is something hilarious about this scene being turned on its head.

There is no clear explanation why this category of parody should have proved such a hardy internet meme, says technology writer Bill Thompson.

"It was just lucky. There is no particular reason why Downfall should have taken off."

Every day in bedrooms all over the world there are bedroom comedians dreaming of creating something that will spread like wildfire. Most of their work goes unwatched.

The memes are essential because they allow comedian and artists to show their creativity, which would have been really difficult if it weren't for sites like YouTube.

"Once it becomes successful it is unstoppable. It is by word of mouth, or word of tweet. The internet does what it was designed to do. It enables two-way communication."

"It's really the nature of the internet that once something reaches a critical mass it starts perpetuating itself out of its own momentum," says creator Andy Nordvall, who uses the name Masters of Humility. "The arbitrary nature of what goes viral becomes part of the viral-ness itself."

And at the heart of the craze is the ease of joining the bandwagon.

"Just find the clip online, subtitle it, and voila, you're a filmmaker. It's intoxicating just how easy it is to make your own Downfall parody."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/04/13 10:59:14 GMT


Hitler can't find Wally and he gets angry, really angry!

The new iPhone drama.

CNN's Errol Barnett reports on the loss, leak and police raid surrounding what could be Apple's next iPhone.

Armani opens hotel.

Designer Giorgio Armani discusses the opening of his first hotel in the world's tallest building in Dubai.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Luxury Goods.

Recession? That's so last year. Luxury goods sector is back in fashion.
Demand for Hermès bags, Prada shoes and yachts indicates the rich are recovering their appetite for luxury goods., April 23, 2010

Recession was supposed to call time on conspicuous consumption. But the prospect of a few green shoots appears to be breathing life into the battered luxury sector with resurgent demand for the trappings of wealth from designer handbags and killer heels to yachts and sports cars.
Last week Hermès, handbag supplier to Victoria Beckham, revealed it was farming crocodiles in Australia to feed demand for its coveted Birkin bag, which start at £4,000 and require customers join a long waiting list.
Mulberry added that sales of its arm candy had recovered, climbing 21% in the first 10 weeks of its new financial year with its new Mitzy bag – which costs £495 – an "immediate bestseller".
Shoe supplier Kurt Geiger, which operates concessions in upmarket London department stores Harrods and Selfridges, has also made a strong start to the year as high-rolling tourists hit the capital's shops. "Our UK business is very buoyant with our like-for-like sales in nearly double digit territory for the first five months of this year," said its chief executive, Neil Clifford, who says the luxury styles from Christian Louboutin and Prada are flying off the shelves. "This year has been much better than we expected, largely driven by the weakness of the pound. For the first time in a long time London offers better value to the luxury shopper than other European cities."
There is also evidence that the world's multimillionaires have recovered from the jolt of watching their net worths plummet. Yacht maker Oyster Marine has seen an increase in "serious buyers" looking at its luxury yachts – which cost €5m (£4.3m) to €15m – over the last six months. David Tydeman, its chief executive, believes the rich are recovering their "emotional confidence" after shock waves such as the collapse of Lehman Brothers: "These people now feel like coming back into the market now that confidence is starting to recover." He says the grim industry prediction of a 50% fall in orders has not materialised although the company now has an export bias.
But even Victoria Beckham's passion for designer goods – she reportedly owns 100 Birkins worth in excess £2m – has not been enough to shield the €170bn luxury goods market from the downturn. Last year sales were flat and consultancy Bain predicts the market would contract by 10% this year.
Bain luxury analyst Claudia D'Arpizio says it is the first time in 15 years the luxury goods market has shrunk in real terms.
Within that D'Arpizio says there has been a flight to quality with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès suffering less while brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Chanel find the going tougher. "These companies [Louis ­Vuitton and Hermès] have strong, strong brands, so it's reassuring for consumers to buy a Louis Vuitton bag because it's forever, but at the same time it's a
fashion statement," she said.
Mulberry chairman and chief executive, Godfrey Davis, says Mulberry's understated designs are striking a chord because ­"over-the-top extravagant ­consumption just isn't in favour right now". Hermès is the ultimate luxury badge of ­honour and the appeal of the ­Birkin, named after actor and singer Jane Birkin, remains undimmed.
Patrick Thomas, Hermès chief executive said: "It can take three to four crocodiles to make one of our bags so we are now breeding our own crocodiles on our own farms. We have massive over-demand."
Bain predicts trading will remain tough in 2010, with growth of around 1%, before a "slow" ­recovery gathers momentum. The downturn has tested the mettle of luxury brands and some have been found wanting with Hardy Amies, dressmaker to the Queen, and Christian Lacroix both tumbling into administration.
Even jeweller Theo Fennell has had a difficult time: it is expected to make a loss of £2m before tax and exceptionals for the year to March 2009. It said yesterday its socialite founder was back on board after a four-month absence, taking up the post of creative director, to help turn the company around.
Fennell's remit is to refocus the company, whose celebrity customers include David Beckham, Sir Elton John and Liz Hurley, on its core strength of high-end jewellery. Freddie George, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said the return of the "creative brains of the business" was a good move. "The new management team will concentrate on rebuilding the business after an ill-judged expansionary phase in the last 18 months and refocus on its core strength in high-end jewellery," he added. "We continue to believe the company has a strong brand which has the potential to be exploited internationally when the markets start to recover."

Meet Martin Cooper.

Meet the man who invented the mobile phone .

Martin Cooper may not be a familiar name, but his invention is familiar to more than half the planet's population who own a mobile phone.
The concept of a handheld phone was his brainchild, and with the help of his Motorola team, the first handset was born in 1973 weighing in at two kilos.
When he stood on a New York street and made the first phone call from a prototype cellular phone, he could not have conceived how successful it would become.
Now a worldwide telecoms industry has sprung up along with a vast array of technologies developed for mobile phones.

He told BBC that producing the first phone cost Motorola the equivalent of $1m (£650,000) in today's money.
"We had to virtually shut down all engineering at our company and have everybody working on the phone and the infrastructure to make the thing work," he said.
“ We joked that 'in the future, when you were born you would be assigned a telephone number and if you didn't answer the phone, you were dead' ” Martin Cooper
"Even by 1983, a portable handheld cellular telephone cost $4,000 (£2,600), which would be the equivalent of more than $10,000 (£6,500) today."
Mr Cooper said his team faced the challenge of squeezing thousands of parts into a phone for the first time.
"The industrial designers did a superb job, but by the time the engineers got done we ended up with two and a half pounds.
"A very substantial part of that first phone was in fact battery which weighed four or five times more than an entire cellphone now," he said.
"The battery lifetime was 20 minutes, but that wasn't really a big problem because you couldn't hold that phone up for that long."
After the phone's production, the bigger obstacle became adapting the small infrastructure, used for car phones at the time, to support mobile phone calls.
"The challenge was to create the network with the promise at that time that we only needed three megahertz of spectrum, the equivalent of five TV channels to cover the world.
He and his team hoped one day everyone would have their own handset.
"We had no idea that in as little as 35 years more than half the people on Earth would have cellular telephones, and they give the phones away to people for nothing."
Handheld phones were originally produced to help doctors and hospital staff improve their communications.
He hoped the devices would help bring safety and freedom to people, but the eventual social implications were beyond his understanding almost four decades ago.
"We had no idea that things like Facebook and Twitter, and all these other concepts, would ever happen."
A new generation of so-called smartphones have revolutionised the mobile phone industry and changed the way people use them.
The technology in handsets has shifted in focus from voice calls to include other functions such as a portable media player, web browser and camera among others.
By cramming in a whole host of technologies, Mr Cooper believes operators and phone manufacturers have turned the handheld phone into a "monstrosity".
"The instruction book is now bigger and heavier than the phone itself," he said. "Good technology is intuitive - the cellphone forces you to become an engineer."
But he still enjoys trying out the latest smartphones, because he wants to understand the innovations happening in the phone market.
"You have to immerse yourself into a product and use it in order to really understand it and that's why I have a new cellphone every month or two."
As mobile phones go to a fourth generation, with new features in each update, the inventor of the handheld phone said the handset of the future should aim to improve a user's quality of life.
"Technology makes your life better, more convenient, safer, educates you, entertains you, and mostly makes you more productive," said Mr Cooper.
"The future of cellular telephony is to make people's lives better - the most important way, in my view, will be the opportunity to revolutionise healthcare," he added.
"We could not have predicted the annoyance that people have when the phone rings at the opera, but it doesn't take a cellular phone to make people be rude."
In terms of the physical development of mobile phones, which have already shrunk from the size of a brick, he believes future users will be able to dispense altogether with the device.
"The cellphone in the long range is going to be embedded under your skin behind your ear along with a very powerful computer who is in effect your slave".

Story from BBC NEWS: 2010/04/23 16:10:40 GMT© BBC MMX

Chocolate and depression.

Chocolate 'linked to depression'

People who regularly eat chocolate are more depressive, experts have found.

Research in Archives of Internal Medicine shows those who eat at least a bar every week are more blue than those who only eat chocolate now and again.
Many believe chocolate has the power to lift mood, and the US team say this may be true, although scientific proof for this is lacking.
But they say they cannot discard the idea that chocolate may be a cause not the cure for being depressed.
In the study, which included nearly 1,000 adults, the more chocolate the men and women consumed the lower their mood.
Those who ate the most - more than six regular 28g size bars a month - scored the highest on depression, using a recognised scale.
None of the men and women were on antidepressants or had been diagnosed as clinically depressed by a doctor.
Dr Natalie Rose and her colleagues from the University of California, San Diego, say there are many possible explanations for their findings, and that these need to be explored.
It may simply be that people who are depressed desire chocolate as a "self-treatment" to lift mood, or depression may drive the wish without any beneficial effect.
"Alternatively, together with alcohol, there could be short-term benefits of chocolate to mood with longer-term effects," they told the journal.
Chocolate could even be a direct cause of depression, the researchers added.
Bridget O'Connell, of the mental health charity Mind, said: "The way we feel and what we eat can be closely related, and many people will be familiar with particular foods or comfort eating when they are stressed, under pressure or depressed.
"However, as this study shows, more research is needed to determine exactly what the relationship between chocolate and our mood is."

Story from BBC NEWS: 2010/04/27 02:36:25 GMT© BBC MMX

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Can texting become an addiction?

A new study finds that one in three teens send at least 100 texts a day. CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports.

The new 100 dollar bill.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

James Cameron.

Film director James Cameron discusses his career and environmental work.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Quiz: Signs in English.

Quiz: Feelings and Adjectives.

Quiz: Adjectives.

Your body as a touchscreen.

Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon unveil "Skinput," which turns the skin's surface into a touchscreen.

Sleep affects quality of life.

A new study looks at how sleep disturbances affect quality of life and how this differs by race.

21-hour working week.

21-hour working week could cut unemployment and boost productivity.

15 February 2010 .

The working week should be cut to 21 hours to boost employment and the economy, a think-tank has suggested.
The New Economics Foundation said the reduction in hours would help to ease unemployment and overwork, while helping staff to become more productive.
The think-tank admitted people would earn less, but said they would benefit from an improved quality of life and would have more time to make relevant tasks.
Employees would have more time to look after children or other dependants, there would be more opportunity for civic obligations, and older people could delay retirement, it said.
The 21 Hours report, published by the New Economics Foundation, says that research shows that since 1981 two-adult households have added six hours - nearly a whole working day - to their combined weekly workload. Meanwhile, nearly 2.5 million people are unemployed.
The report says the nine-to-five, five-day working week was "just a relic of the industrial revolution", and adds: "A 21-hour working week could help distribute paid work more evenly across the population, reducing troubles associated with unemployment, long working hours and too little control over time.
"With a 21-hour working week, businesses would benefit from more women entering the workforce, and from men living more rounded, balanced lives. Stress would also be reduced because employees would no longer need to deal with paid-employment with home-based responsibilities and family commitments. There is evidence that people who work shorter hours are more productive, hour for hour."
Anna Coote, co-author of the report, said: "So many of us live to work, work to earn, and earn to consume, and our consumption habits are ending the earth's natural resources. Spending less time in paid work could help us to break this pattern. Not to mention that different shifts would ease rush hour and as a consequence, traffic."
"We could even become better employees - less stressed, more in control, happier in our jobs and more productive."
Sunday, 18 April 2010

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Trains in demand.

Generation Y.

Generation Y: They've arrived at work with a new attitude.

By Stephanie Armour from USA TODAY.

They're young, smart and impatient. They may wear flip-flops to the office or listen to iPods at their desk. They want to work, but they don't want work to be their life.
This is Generation Y, a force of as many as 70 million, and the first wave is just now embarking on their careers — taking their place in an increasingly multigenerational workplace.
There is no consensus over the exact birth dates that define Gen Y, also known by some as echo boomers and millennials. But the common definition generally includes the more than 70 million Americans born 1977 to 2002.
Get ready, because this generation — whose members have not yet hit 30 — is different from any that have come before, according to researchers and authors who study the lives of young people.
When they take their first jobs, Gen Y would be the fastest-growing segment of the workforce — growing from 14% of the workforce to 21% over the past four years to nearly 32 million workers.

This age group is moving into the labor force during a time of major demographic change, as companies around the USA have an aging workforce. Sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-year-olds. Fresh college graduates consider employees old enough to be their parents. And new job entrants are changing careers faster than college students change their majors, creating frustration for employers trying hard to retain and recruit talented high-performers.
They believe in their own worth.

"Generation Y is much less probable to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today's workforce," says Jordan Kaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn in New York. "They've grown up questioning their parents, and now they're questioning their employers. They don't know how to shut up, which is great, but that's aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, 'Do it and do it now.' "
That speak-your-mind philosophy makes sense to Katie Patterson, an assistant account executive at Edelman Public Relations in Atlanta. The 23-year-old, who comes from Iowa and now lives with two roommates in a town home, likes to collaborate with others, and says many of her friends want to run their own businesses so they can be independent.
"We are not afraid to challenge the status quo," she says. "An environment where creativity and independent thinking are considered a positive and seducing to people my age. We're very independent and tech masters."

What is known about Gen Y:

They are financial smarts. After witnessing the financial insecurity that happened earlier to generations tormented with firings and the closed companies, today's newest entrants into the workforce are generally very smart when it comes to money and savings. They care about such benefits as retirement plans and extra benefits.

Work-life balance is a priority. Unlike boomers who tend to put a high priority on career, today's youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture.

"There's a higher value on self fulfillment," says Diana San Diego, 24, who lives with her parents in San Francisco and works on college campuses helping prepare students for the working world through the Parachute College Program. "After 9/11, there is a realization that life is short. You value it more."

Change, change, change. Generation Yers don't expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long — they've seen the scandals that imploded Enron and Arthur Andersen, and they're skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty, Tulgan says.

High expectations of self: They aim to work faster and better than other workers.

High expectations of employers: They want fair and direct managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.

Learning: They look for creative challenges and view colleagues as vast resources from who to gain knowledge.

Immediate responsibility: They want to make an important impact on Day 1.

Goal-oriented: They want small goals with deadlines so they can build up ownership of tasks.

They don't like to stay too long on any one work. This is a generation of multitaskers, and they can multitask e-mail on their BlackBerrys while talking on cellphones while surfing online.
And they believe in their own self worth and value enough that they're not shy about trying to change the companies they work for. That compares somewhat with Gen X, a generation born from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s, known for its independent thinking, addiction to change and emphasis on family.
Tulgan, who co-authored Managing Generation Y with Carolyn Martin and leads training sessions at companies on how to prepare for and retain Generation Yers, says a recent example is a young woman who just started a job at a cereal company. She showed up the first day with a recipe for a new cereal she'd invented.
In the workplace, conflict and resentment can happen for many reasons, even about trivial subjects such as appearance, as a generation used to casual dress code such as flip-flops, tattoos and capri pants.

And then there's Gen Y's total comfort with technology. While boomers may expect a phone call or in-person meeting on important topics, younger workers may prefer virtual problem solving, Tulgan says.
Conflict can also happen over management style. Unlike previous generations who've in large part grown accustomed to the annual review, Gen Yers have grown up getting constant feedback and recognition from teachers, parents and coaches and can resent it or feel lost if communication from bosses isn't more regular.
"The millennium generation has been brought up in the most child-centered generation ever. They've been programmed and over-protected," says Cathy O'Neill, senior vice president at career management company Lee Hecht Harrison in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. "Their expectations are different. The millennial expects to be told how they're doing."
"(Gen Y) is very important," says Joe Hammill, director of talent acquisition. "Xerox and other Fortune-type companies such as IBM, Apple, CitiGroup and others view this emerging workforce as the future of our organization."

But some conflict is inevitable. More than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations, according to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison.
The survey found more than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers' abilities. And nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers.


Friday, 16 April 2010

High-end goods companies pay a high price.

High end goods companies pay a high price.

By Vincent Boland.
Published: April 16 2010.

For an insight into the scale of the global financial crisis on the bottom line of a luxury goods company, the performance of Bulgari is particularly revealing.
The Italian watches and jewellery group fell to a net loss of €47.1m ($63.9m) in 2009 from a profit of €82.9m in 2008, indicating the toll the recession took on high-end goods.
Sales of watches were down 24.5 per cent, jewellery was down 14.4 per cent, perfumes slid by 14.9 per cent and accessories by 27.2 per cent.
The weakness was reflected across the globe, except the Middle East, although sales in directly owned stores were stronger in China, South Korea and Australia. Francesco Trapani, Bulgari’s chief executive, said that after 30 years of international economic growth the luxury goods industry faced in this downturn its “first severe crisis”. This one was particularly taxing because it was so difficult to predict its duration and impact.
“Customers are now more cautious and demanding in spending, and brand is not enough any more to justify a high price,” Mr Trapani told the Financial Times. He expects Bulgari to see higher turnover this year, but “there will not be a real recovery before the second half of 2010 and, in terms of absolute value, it will not be back to the levels of 2007 before 2011-12”.
Analysts say the industry is facing one of its toughest strategic challenges. “It is a new environment for luxury goods companies,” said Davide Vimercati, luxury goods analyst at UniCredit. He said it may take longer for the industry to recover from this downturn than previous ones, given the dislocation it has caused and the uncertainties that surround it.
This is causing upheaval at some of Italy’s best known luxury goods companies. The most notable is the restructuring under way at Versace, involving heavy job losses and an overhaul of its domestic production. Mr Vimercati said those companies that had wide geographical reach, brand equity, innovative products and excellent management, were best placed to take advantage of the upturn.
The Altagamma Foundation, which represents the Italian luxury goods industry, predicted on Thursday that the sector was in better shape than six months ago and forecast that the Asian market would grow 15 per cent this year. Indeed, Mr Trapani said Asia was the “new frontier” for the industry and could be the number one market within a decade.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

Common errors in English - Advanced.

The world turned upside down.

The world turned upside down.
Apr 15th 2010
From The Economist print edition

The emerging world, long a source of cheap labour, now rivals the rich countries for business innovation, says Adrian Wooldridge.

In 1980 American car executives were so shaken to find that Japan had replaced the United States as the world’s leading carmaker that they began to visit Japan to find out what was going on. How could the Japanese beat the Americans on both price and reliability? And how did they manage to produce new models so quickly? The visitors discovered that the answer was not industrial policy or state subsidies, as they had expected, but business innovation. The Japanese had invented a new system of making things that was quickly dubbed “lean manufacturing”.

This special report will argue that something comparable is now happening in the emerging world. Developing countries are becoming hotbeds of business innovation in much the same way as Japan did from the 1950s onwards. They are coming up with new products and services that are dramatically cheaper than their Western equivalents: $3,000 cars, $300 computers and $30 mobile phones that provide nationwide service for just 2 cents a minute. They are reinventing systems of production and distribution, and they are experimenting with entirely new business models. All the elements of modern business, from supply-chain management to recruitment and retention, are being rejigged or reinvented in one emerging market or another.

Why are countries that were until recently associated with cheap hands now becoming leaders in innovation? The most obvious reason is that the local companies are dreaming bigger dreams. Driven by a mixture of ambition and fear—ambition to bestride the world stage and fear of even cheaper competitors in, say, Vietnam or Cambodia—they are relentlessly climbing up the value chain. Emerging-market champions have not only proved highly competitive in their own backyards, they are also going global themselves.

The United Nations World Investment Report calculates that there are now around 21,500 multinationals based in the emerging world. The best of these, such as India’s Bharat Forge in forging, China’s BYD in batteries and Brazil’s Embraer in jet aircraft, are as good as anybody in the world. The number of companies from Brazil, India, China or Russia on the Financial Times 500 list more than quadrupled in 2006-08, from 15 to 62. Brazilian top 20 multinationals more than doubled their foreign assets in a single year, 2006.

At the same time Western multinationals are investing ever bigger hopes in emerging markets. They regard them as sources of economic growth and high-quality brainpower, both of which they desperately need. Multinationals expect about 70% of the world’s growth over the next few years to come from emerging markets, with 40% coming from just two countries, China and India. They have also noted that China and to a lesser extent India have been pouring resources into education over the past couple of decades. China produces 75,000 people with higher degrees in engineering or computer science and India 60,000 every year.

The world’s biggest multinationals are becoming increasingly happy to do their research and development in emerging markets. Companies in the Fortune 500 list have 98 R&D facilities in China and 63 in India. Some have more than one. General Electric’s health-care arm has spent more than $50m in the past few years to build a vast R&D centre in India’s Bangalore, its biggest anywhere in the world. Cisco is splashing out more than $1 billion on a second global headquarters—Cisco East—in Bangalore, now nearing completion. Microsoft’s R&D centre in Beijing is its largest outside its American headquarters in Redmond. Knowledge-intensive companies such as IT specialists and consultancies have hugely stepped up the number of people they employ in developing countries. For example, a quarter of Accenture’s workforce is in India.

Both Western and emerging-country companies have also realised that they need to try harder if they are to prosper in these booming markets. It is not enough to concentrate on the Gucci and Mercedes crowd; they have to learn how to appeal to the billions of people who live outside Shanghai and Bangalore, from the rising middle classes in second-tier cities to the farmers in isolated villages. That means rethinking everything from products to distribution systems.

Anil Gupta, of the University of Maryland at College Park, points out that these markets are among the toughest in the world. Distribution systems can be hopeless. Income streams can be unpredictable. Pollution can be lung-searing. Governments can be infuriating, sometimes meddling and sometimes failing to provide basic services. Pirating can squeeze profit margins. And poverty is ubiquitous. The islands of success are surrounded by a sea of problems, which have defeated some doughty companies. Yahoo! and eBay retreated from China, and Google too has recently backed out from there and moved to Hong Kong. Black & Decker, America’s biggest toolmaker, is almost invisible in India and China, the world’s two biggest construction sites.

But the opportunities are equally extraordinary. The potential market is huge: populations are already much bigger than in the developed world and growing much faster (see chart 1), and in both China and India hundreds of millions of people will enter the middle class in the coming decades. The economies are set to grow faster too (see chart 2). Few companies suffer from the costly “legacy systems” that are common in the West. Brainpower is relatively cheap and abundant: in China over 5m people graduate every year and in India about 3m, respectively four times and three times the numbers a decade ago.

This combination of challenges and opportunities is producing a fizzing cocktail of creativity. Because so many consumers are poor, companies have to go for volume. But because piracy is so commonplace, they also have to keep upgrading their products. Again the similarities with Japan in the 1980s are striking. Toyota and Honda took to “just-in-time” inventories and quality management because land and raw materials were expensive. In the same way emerging-market companies are turning problems into advantages.

Until now it had been widely assumed that globalisation was driven by the West and imposed on the rest. Bosses in New York, London and Paris would control the process from their glass towers, and Western consumers would reap most of the benefits. This is changing fast. Muscular emerging-market champions such as India’s ArcelorMittal in steel and Mexico’s Cemex in cement are gobbling up Western companies. Brainy ones such as Infosys and Wipro are taking over office work. And consumers in developing countries are getting richer faster than their equivalents in the West. In some cases the traditional global supply chain is even being reversed: Embraer buys many of its component parts from the West and does the assembly work in Brazil.

Old assumptions about innovation are also being challenged. People in the West like to believe that their companies cook up new ideas in their laboratories at home and then export them to the developing world, which makes it easier to accept job losses in manufacturing. But this is proving less true by the day. Western companies are embracing “polycentric innovation” as they spread their R&D centres around the world. And non-Western companies are becoming powerhouses of innovation in everything from telecoms to computers.

The very nature of innovation is having to be rethought. Most people in the West equate it with technological breakthroughs, embodied in revolutionary new products that are taken up by the elites and eventually trickle down to the masses. But many of the most important innovations consist of incremental improvements to products and processes aimed at the middle or the bottom of the income pyramid: look at Wal-Mart’s exemplary supply system or Dell’s application of just-in-time production to personal computers.

The emerging world will undoubtedly make a growing contribution to breakthrough innovations. It has already leapfrogged ahead of the West in areas such as mobile money (using mobile phones to make payments) and online games. Microsoft’s research laboratory in Beijing has produced clever programs that allow computers to recognise handwriting or turn photographs into cartoons. Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant, has become the world’s fourth-largest patent applicant. But the most exciting innovations—and the ones this report will concentrate on—are of the Wal-Mart and Dell variety: smarter ways of designing products and organising processes to reach the billions of consumers who are just entering the global market.

No visitor to the emerging world can fail to be struck by its prevailing optimism, particularly if his starting point is the recession-racked West. The 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Project confirms this impression. Some 94% of Indians, 87% of Brazilians and 85% of Chinese say that they are satisfied with their lives. Large majorities of people in China and India say their country’s current economic situation is good (see chart 3), expect conditions to improve further and think their children will be better off than they are. This is a region that, to echo Churchill’s phrase, sees opportunities in every difficulty rather than difficulties in every opportunity.

This special report will conclude by asking what all this means for the rich world and for the balance of economic power. In the past, emerging economic leviathans have tended to embrace new management systems as they tried to consolidate their progress. America adopted Henry Ford’s production line and Alfred Sloan’s multidivisional firm and swept all before it until the 1960s. Japan invented lean production and almost destroyed the American car and electronics industries. Now the emerging markets are developing their own distinctive management ideas, and Western companies will increasingly find themselves learning from their rivals. People who used to think of the emerging world as a source of cheap labour must now recognise that it can be a source of disruptive innovation as well.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Eat better, think better.

HLN's Chuck Roberts reports on a study that finds those who eat less fatty foods cut chances of developing Alzheimer's.


Twitter launches advertising plans

Twitter has said it will allow advertising on its site for the first time.
The social networking site said advertisers would be able to buy "Promoted Tweets" that will appear on Twitter's search results pages.
It has been reluctant to allow advertising in the past.
However, co-founder Biz Stone said they would not be traditional adverts. They must be Tweets that "resonate with users" and be part of conversations.
Twitter has already signed up a group of big name organisations such as Sony Pictures, coffee chain Starbucks and US retailer Best Buy.

ANALYSIS By Tim Weber, Business editor, BBC News website:
Twitter is yet another digital business in search of a business model.
Tweeting may still be a minority sport in most countries, but it is growing fast, especially internationally. Currently, the world's Twitter users tweet about 50 million times a day 600 times a second.
Twitter's management hopes to apply the Google advertising model to its own micro-blogging service.
Companies using the service, however, will be looking closely at the return on investment that the service will generate. Should they pay per tweet read, per click-through, or per sale-after-click?
Commercial tweets to build brands and create buzz are probably the most promising application of Twitter ads.
It is the first step in the advertising water for the social networking site, which has yet to make a profit and has only just begun to do deals to raise revenue from the high profile service.
It is an approach that the company described as a "stubborn insistence on a slow and thoughtful approach to monetization".
It follows Twitter's announcement over the weekend that it will buy Atebits, the developer behind iPhone application "Tweetie", which is one of the main user access points to Twitter.
The acquisition means that Twitter will for the first time be able to control directly the service they deliver to iPhone users, instead of relying on third party application developers to do this for them.

“There is a risk that users may get turned off by too much advertising ” Christine Overby, vice president at Forrester Research

"But I think this risk is easy to manage - they can look at how Google for example has handled this."

Story from BBC NEWS: 2010/04/13 13:19:29 GMT© BBC MMX

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Conditionals and Wish.

Face2Face Upper-Intermediate
Unit 2
Conditional 1, 2 and 3.

Productivity Growth.

Productivity growth.
Slash and earn.
Productivity has surged in America and slumped in Europe. Neither trend can last .

Productivity growth.

Slash and earn.

Mar 18th 2010.
From The Economist print edition.

Productivity has surged in America and slumped in Europe. Neither trend can last.

LIKE physical fitness or a healthy diet, productivity is a worthy goal that can require an unappetising change in habits. Producing more by working less is the key to rising living standards, but in the short term there is a tension between efficiency and jobs. America and Europe have managed this trade-off rather differently. America has gone on a diet: it has squeezed extra output from a smaller workforce and suffered a big rise in unemployment as a consequence. Europe, meanwhile, is hoping to burn off the calories in the future. It has opted to contain job losses at the cost of lower productivity. That probably means America’s recovery will be swifter. Further out, productivity trends in both continents are likely to be uniformly sluggish.

Analysis by the Conference Board, a research firm, shows just how different the recession was on either side of the Atlantic. America’s economy shrank by around 2.5%last year but hours worked fell at twice that rate, so productivity (GDP per hour) rose by 2.5%. The average drop in GDP in the 15 countries that made up the European Union before its expansion in 2004 was larger, at 4.2%. But hours worked fell less sharply than in America and, as a result, EU productivity fell by 1.1% (see table). Workers that held on to jobs in America and Europe had their hours cut by similar amounts. The reason total hours worked fell by more in America was that there were more job losses there: employment fell by 3.6% last year, compared with a 1.9% fall in the EU.

What accounts for this stark contrast? One theory is that the GDP figures in America are overstated. Fresh revisions will take in information from small firms, which may have been forced to cut back by more than big firms because of scarce credit. So GDP could be revised down, narrowing the gap with Europe. Another view is that American firms were panicked into shedding jobs too quickly (though brutal cuts in capital spending suggest that Europeans were scarcely calmer).

In fact, much of the productivity-growth gap is explained by different labour regulations. America’s more flexible jobs market makes it far easier and cheaper to lay off workers. In many parts of Europe, by contrast, firing workers is costly and unemployment benefits are generous. Firms think twice about firing, and governments are keener to provide in-work subsidies if it means avoiding payouts to the newly jobless. Unemployment has risen most where workers are easiest to offload, as in Ireland or Spain.

American workers who can so easily be laid off may not be hired back as quickly. Some fear a repeat of the “jobless recovery” after the 2001 recession when increasing demand was met by rising productivity. That surge in productivity was in part a result of an earlier splurge in capital spending on information technology. Though IT spending had collapsed in 2000, firms were still finding new ways to apply the computing power they had invested in so heavily. It will be harder to repeat that trick this time. Since much of the capital accumulated during the last boom was in housing, there is not the same scope for a similar burst of “delayed” productivity. Even so, it may be surprisingly strong for a while, says Bart van Ark of the Conference Board. The recession has made executives realise that they can keep their operations going with fewer staff, he says.

Even if productivity growth does tail off, it may still be strong enough to match sluggish demand. And if spending is more robust, businesses will first choose to offer existing part-time workers longer hours. The Federal Reserve said on March 16th that although the economy was stronger, firms were still reluctant to hire.

In Europe the shock of recession is likely to persist for even longer. Falling productivity pushes up unit-wage costs, hurting profits and cashflow. Firms cannot bear that for ever. Long hiring freezes seem likely and some businesses will be forced into lay-offs. Aggregate demand is likely to stay feeble. Weak profits will hurt investment, and consumers will not spend freely if they believe jobs will be shed.

The drive for more output from fewer workers seems a threat when jobs are scarce. But over time productivity is essential to improving living standards. Indeed, as the share of working-age adults in the population shrinks, there will be a greater reliance on productivity to drive GDP growth. That makes it all the more worrying that analysts have become gloomier about medium-term prospects. America’s productivity will grow by just 1.5% a year in the next decade, according to new forecasts by Dale Jorgenson of Harvard University and Khuong Vu of the National University of Singapore (see chart).

Much of the expected slowdown reflects changes in technology, says Mr Jorgenson. The burst of strong growth in American productivity after 1995 was spurred by advances in the semiconductor industry, which led to sharp falls in the price of computing power. The technology is still improving but at a slower pace, and productivity trends will soon reflect that. The global outlook is brighter, because the benefits of IT are far from exhausted in big emerging economies, such as China and India. But that is no longer the case in America, says Robert Gordon of Northwestern University. “We’ve already picked the low-hanging fruit,” he says.

Europe largely missed out on the IT-led productivity boom: might it yet reap the benefits? Much of the growth gap with America is accounted for by “market services”—ie, retailing, transport, finance and business services. These industries would be more efficient if there were a genuine single EU market in services. As it is, firms operating in niche national markets often do not have the scale to make big IT investments pay off. And firms cannot profit from new technology unless they can flexibly match it with skilled workers, argues John van Reenen at the Centre for Economic Performance in London. The remedies for Europe’s productivity malaise are familiar ones: an end to over-regulated product and jobs markets. For Europe, though, these are hard habits to break.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Drinking in Europe.

Drinking in Europe.

Apr 8th 2010 .

From The Economist print edition.

Alcohol consumption is falling in most big European countries.

ACROSS Europe, economies are stagnating and unemployment is climbing. Reason enough, you might think, to hit the bottle. Europeans put away over nine litres of alcohol a year per person, twice the global average. The European Commission has declared that alcohol is a “key public-health and social concern”. Yet in most big EU countries drinking is in decline. In France and Italy the average adult drinks over a third less than he or she did 30 years ago. Germans and Spaniards are also drying out quickly (see chart). Alcohol consumption has likewise fallen in most of Eastern Europe in recent decades.

What explains the great sobering-up? In part, the drivers appear to be social and cultural. The decline in drinking is most marked in southern Europe, where there has been a notable dropping-off in wine-drinking, especially during the working day. Rising numbers of urban workers and the spread of Anglo-Saxon fast-food habits are working against the old traditions of a glass with breakfast followed by a long lunch fuelled by a bottle or two. These countries also had a lot further to fall. In 1980 France, Italy and Spain were the booziest nations in Europe.
Not only are Europeans drinking less, they are drinking differently. Their habits are converging, as the old geography of drinking on the continent, with its well-defined wine, beer and vodka. Men still drink far more than women but given the rise in female alcohol-consumption, it is assumed that in two decades there will be no difference as to which gender drinks more. In addition, children as young as 13 have already had their first hangover, mainly in UK and Eastern Europe. Young people, unshackled by tradition, are leading the charge away from old stereotypes. Russians and Poles are these days almost as likely to be found drinking bottles of beer as shots of vodka. Britain, which John Major, then prime minister, predicted in 1993 would still be a country of “warm beer”. 50 years on, has become a land of chardonnay and pinot noir: last year, for the first time, Britons spent more on wine than on beer.

This shift may also explain why Britain, in this matter as in so many others, is out of step with its EU partners. Alcohol consumption in Britain rose more or less continuously after 1956 and has levelled off only in the past few years.
The shift from beer to wine in Britain may have boosted overall drinking, suggests Rachel Seabrook, research manager at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, a London-based think-tank. Britons may have adopted the habit of southern Europeans, but they also retain a fondness for “heavy episodic drinking” (ie, bingeing): pouring the stuff down their throats rather than sipping it in the slow, relaxed manner of Spaniards or Italians. The difference is that they now do it with 12%-strength wine rather than 4%-strength beer. Affordability is another factor: Britons spend more time at home drinking cheap supermarket-bought booze than in the pub buying expensive pints. In Britain, at least, it may be right still to see alcohol as a big public-health and social concern.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

The endangered bookstore.

The endangered bookstore.

Mar 31st 2010.

From The Economist print edition.

The sickliest part of the books business is the shops that sell them.

THESE are not easy times for booksellers. Borders, a big American one, fired its boss in January and has closed stores, but is still at risk of collapse, some analysts say. The British chain of the same name, which it once owned, failed last year. Barnes & Noble, the world’s biggest bookseller, hired a new boss last month to help it confront the threat of the recession, increased competition and e-books.
The problems of booksellers can be explained in part by an increase in competition. More than half of book sales in America take place not in bookshops but at big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, which compete with bestsellers at ever bigger discounts. Online retailers, too, are causing problems for bookstores. In 2009 Amazon sold 19% of printed books in North America, reckons Credit Suisse, compared with Barnes & Noble’s 17% and Borders’ 10%. By 2015, the bank estimates, Amazon will sell 28%.
Booksellers are labouring to raise their profile online and win back the customers they have lost. Barnes & Noble’s online sales rose by 32% to $210m in the quarter ending in January, compared with a year earlier. It has started selling its own e-reader, called the “Nook”, and digital books to go with it.
Will bookshops disappear completely, as music shops seem to be doing? Most are concentrating their hopes on giving people more reasons to come inside. “Consumers will need some entity to help them make sense of the purchase,” says William Lynch, the new boss of Barnes & Noble, which plans to put a renewed emphasis on service, including advice on e-books. Many shops have started to offer free internet access to keep customers there longer and to enable them to download e-books. Other survival strategies include hosting book clubs or other community groups and selling a wider variety of goods, such as wrapping paper, jewellery, cards and toys.
Independent bookshops face a particularly grave threat, because they are unable to match bigger rivals’ prices. Many are branching out by offering new services, such as creative-writing classes. BookPeople, a bookshop in Austin, Texas, runs a literary summer camp for around 450 children. Steve Bercu, the shop’s co-owner, says that independent booksellers can still thrive, provided they “reinvent themselves”.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

iPhone OS4.

Apple's new OS.

Apple's new OS.

Apr 9th 2010.

Yesterday, Apple announced it was already planning to change the iPad’s software and allow customers to replace them with a new operating system, iPhone OS 4.0, which can also power the company’s latest generations of smart phones.
The new system will correct one of the most obvious flaws in Apple’s existing iPhone and iPad operating system. Currently, it doesn't allow users to switch from one third-party software programme, or app, to another while leaving the first app open. This means, for example, that someone listening to music using an app from Pandora, an internet radio service, can’t listen to songs while performing another task. The new system allows multitasking, and will also let people read books from Apple’s new iBookstore on both iPads and iPhones.
It will also take Apple into the advertising business. Developers will be able to use OS 4.0 to embed ads in their apps Apple will take 40% of the revenue generated.

The more people Apple can get to buy its devices, the better its chances of winning the battle for mobile ad money. Steve Jobs, Apple’s boss, says that the company has sold over 450,000 iPads since it launched on April 3rd and that Best Buy, a retailer that has been carrying the device, has no more in stock.

Mr Jobs is indeed a control freak, and the Apple "ecosystem" of software, which is tightly governed from the company’s head office in Cupertino, is more closed than some people, including Mr Doctorow, would like. But the company has managed to grow that ecosystem so rapidly—Mr Jobs mentioned that there are now over 150,000 different apps on offer—that it feels pretty rich and varied to the average user.
And many more apps are on the way. For instance, Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capital outfits, recently announced that it had
doubled the size of its iFund investment pool which backs apps developers working on software for Apple machines, to $200m. Now that developers will be able to make money from ads, too, there is likely to be an even longer list of them eager to astonish Apple’s audience with their works.


Pandora founder, Tim Westergren, shows off his new app and discusses why the iPad will bring his company a new audience.

What Dow at 11,000 means.

The market has rebounded nearly 70% in just over a year, but questions still linger about the long-term health of TARP-assisted banks.

New York Real Estate Picture.

CNN's Maggie Lake takes a look at the commercial real estate picture in New York.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Marijuana in California.

"Another effort to tackle California's budget woes. Legalizing marijuana could soon get a vote. Proponents behind an initiative to legalize personal marijuana possession and allow regulated sales of pot to adults have enough signatures to put the measure on November's general election ballot." (Fox News)

California made history in 1996 when it became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. The state may set another precedent in November when residents will vote to legalize the recreational use for marijuana for adults.

Under the law, adults 21 and older could possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

On KTLA, a recreational marijuana advocate says legalizing marijuana has another implication -- boosting California's budget.

"It allows cities and counties to tax and regulate marijuana production and sales. That means California can generate $1.4 billion per year in revenue."

But a blogger from The Atlantic says taxing marijuana will have an adverse effect on revenue.

"The tax will also raise costs, which should keep some sellers and buyers underground. (Today: drug war for public health and security; tomorrow: drug war to recoup tax dollars."

In an article from Fresno, California's CBS affiliate, a medical marijuana distributor adds a different perspective, saying the measure would impact public safety costs too.

"It would take a big bite out of the black market. It would take money out of the need for law enforcment for that aspect."

This year, New Jersey became the 14th state to follow California's lead and legalize medical marijuana.

A blogger on Alternet says states facing similar budget crises will follow in California's footsteps again.

"This is the best chance for marijuana legalization on a state-level yet...other states could similarly follow it if legalizes cannabis this year. In other words, as goes California, so could go many others."

But on CNN, an opponent of the measure says the health risks far outweigh potential economic benefits.

"Why on Earth would we want to add yet another mind altering substance to the array of legal substances that compromise a person's five senses, where we know they're going to make bad decisions, some criminal."

So what do you think? Will legalizing marijuana boost California's economy?

NYSE plans to launch interest rate futures.

NYSE plans to launch interest rate futures.

By Jeremy Grant in London.

April 6 2010 .

The biggest exchange operator in New York, NYSE Euronext, threw down the gauntlet to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday by unveiling plans to launch interest rate futures, the Chicago operator’s flagship products and the most widely traded derivatives contracts in the world.
The move marks a new phase in decades of rivalry between the cities for supremacy in exchange-traded financial products.
New York has long dominated equities trading, but derivatives – such as corn, wheat futures and financial futures – have been almost the sole domain of Chicago.
NYSE Euronext is determined to break the Chicago derivatives stranglehold and has been building up NYSE Liffe, it own US futures exchange.
NYSE Liffe said it would launch a suite of short and long-term US interest rate futures contracts in the third quarter. This would include Eurodollar futures, which are derivatives on the short-term interest rate paid on US dollar deposits at European banks.
The move is the second attempt by Liffe to take on the CME, which enjoys a virtual monopoly on US interest rate futures contracts.
In 2003 what was then Euronext-Liffe launched a version of Eurodollar futures, but
the move failed after liquidity remained at the CME. Euronext, which owned Liffe at the time, was bought by the New York Stock Exchange group in 2007 to create NYSE Euronext.
This time NYSE Liffe believes it stands a better chance because it has teamed up with The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation based in New York to provide clearing services.
It also operates NYSE Liffe in partnership with key market participants, who are expected to provide initial trading liquidity. They are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS and three Chicago-based proprietary trading firms: Citadel, Getco and DRW Trading.
Garry Jones, global head of derivatives at NYSE Liffe, told the Financial Times: “People tell us they want choice and we have the right technology and product to have a go. It was about time there was some competition.”
Shifting liquidity in a single product dominated by a futures exchange in the US has repeatedly proved hard.
That is because of the lack of “fungibility”, or the existence of choice as to where a trade can be sent for clearing.
The only current competitor for the CME in interest rate futures is ELX, a small futures exchange launched nine months ago in partnership with key Wall Street banks – including some involved with NYSE Liffe – and offering trading in 2-, 5-, 10-year treasury notes and 30 year bonds.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.


Nokia tries to reinvent itself

Bears at the door

Jan 7th 2010 | ESPOO
From The Economist print edition

Can the world’s largest handset-maker regain the initiative?

ASK Finns about their national character and chances are the word sisu will come up. It is an amalgam of steadfastness and diligence, but also courage, recklessness and fierce tenacity. “It takes sisu to stand at the door when the bear is on the other side,” a folk saying goes.

There are plenty of bears these days at the doors of Nokia, the Finnish firm that is the world’s biggest maker of mobile handsets. Although it is still the global leader in the fast-growing market for smart-phones, its devices are losing ground to Apple’s iPhone and to the BlackBerry, made by Research in Motion (RIM). On January 5th Google took a further step into the market with the launch of the Nexus One, a handset made by HTC of Taiwan that the internet giant will sell directly to consumers, and which runs Android, Google’s operating system for smart-phones.

Especially in America, where Apple and RIM reign supreme in the smart-phone market, many already see Nokia as a has-been. Developers are rushing to write programs for the iPhone and for Android, but shun Symbian, Nokia’s rival software platform. And Nokia’s efforts in mobile services, mostly under its Ovi brand, have yet to make much headway.

When the company makes headlines these days, it is thanks to the patent lawsuits it has filed against Apple, which many have interpreted—perhaps unfairly—as an admission of commercial defeat. The latest suit, filed in late December, asks America’s International Trade Commission to ban various Apple products, including the iPhone, from entering the country.

Nokia beats Apple in annual sales ($57 billion versus $37 billion) and market share in smart-phones (39% versus 17%), but it is much less profitable. In fact, Nokia’s share of industry profits fell from 64% in 2007 to 32% in 2009—not much more than Apple’s and less than RIM’s, according to Brian Modoff, an analyst with Deutsche Bank. Small wonder that Nokia’s market capitalisation is barely a quarter of Apple’s.

Yet in Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, near Helsinki, morale is far better than one might expect. Hardly anyone would deny that there are problems. But executives insist that they can be overcome. When board members met financial analysts in December, they made some bold predictions. Within a year, promised Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the firm’s boss, the ageing Symbian software will have been vastly improved, to enable Nokia to offer “magic devices”. As for services, the goal is to have signed up 300m users by the end of 2011. “I’ve rarely heard such explicit statements," says Ben Wood of CCS Insight, a long-time Nokia watcher.

Nokia has overcome many crises in the past. In 1995 poor logistics caused it to stumble. It responded by developing one of the world’s most efficient supply chains, capable of churning out some 1.2m handsets a day. A decade later it failed to anticipate the demand for “clamshell”-type handsets, but bounced back quickly to restore its market share in handsets to 40% and thus its industry dominance.

But this time the problems go deeper. In more than one way, Nokia has to become a different company, says Jay Galbraith, a management expert. Until now, it has excelled in making and distributing hardware. This has trained the organisation to focus on planning and logistics. Deadlines are often set 18 months in advance. Teams developing a new device also work in relative isolation and even competitively, to make each product more original. And although Nokia has always done a lot of market research and built phones for every conceivable type of customer, it sells most of its wares to telecoms operators and designs its products to meet their demands.

With the rise of the smart-phone, however, software and services are becoming much more important. They require different skills. Development cycles are not counted in quarters and years, but in months or even weeks. New services do not have to be perfect, since they can be improved after their launch if consumers like them. Teams have to collaborate more closely, so that the same services and software can run on different handsets. Nokia also has to establish a direct relationship with its users like Apple’s or Google’s.

To Nokia’s credit, it anticipated the shift to software and services much earlier than other handset-makers. It launched Ovi in 2007, almost a year before Apple opened its highly successful App Store. A few months later, Nokia bought Navteq, a maker of digital maps, for a whopping €5.7 billion (then $8.1 billion), to be able to offer better location-based services. Shortly thereafter, Nokia launched Comes With Music, an innovative pairing of a handset with a digital-music subscription.

These efforts have not been great successes, although Nokia says that 86m people now use its various services. The firm is still working at bundling a selection of them into a neat package that is easily accessible from its handsets. Moreover, most of its offerings have to compete against popular incumbents, such as Facebook, Apple’s iTunes store and Google Maps. To further complicate matters, telecoms operators are reluctant to let Nokia offer services directly to their customers, since they want to do the same.

Worse, while dealing with these problems, Nokia has seemed to neglect its main business. The first version of its flagship smart-phone, called the N97, was a let-down. It has as many bells and whistles as a Swiss army knife, says Carolina Milanesi of Gartner, a market-research firm, but its software, based on Symbian, makes them almost impossible to use. “It is like having a Ferrari body with a Fiat Cinquecento engine inside,” she says.

Last February Nokia’s management kicked off what is internally known as a “transformation project” to address all these concerns. “We needed to move faster. We needed to improve our execution. And we needed a tighter coupling of devices and services,” explains Mary McDowell, Nokia’s chief strategist. The firm has since introduced a simpler internal structure, cut its smart-phone portfolio by half, ditched weaker services and begun to increase Ovi’s appeal to developers by allowing them to integrate Nokia’s services into their own applications. While giving Symbian a makeover it is also pushing a new operating system, called Maemo, for the grandest, computer-like smart-phones.

All this will no doubt help Nokia come up with better, if not magic, products. The firm may even reach its goal of 300m users by the end of 2011 because its efforts are not aimed just at rich countries, but at fast-growing emerging economies where Nokia is still king of the hill, such as India. There, services such as Nokia Money, a mobile-payment system, and Life Tools, which supplies farmers with prices and other information, fulfil real needs, says John Delaney of IDC, another market-research firm.

Yet it is an entirely different question whether Nokia will manage to dominate the mobile industry once more—not just by handset volumes, but by innovation and profits. The example of the computer industry, in which the centre of gravity began shifting from hardware firms to providers of software and services over two decades ago, is not terribly encouraging: of the industry’s former giants, only IBM really made the shift successfully. Then again, Nokia has reinvented itself many times since its origin in 1865 as a paper mill. That, points out Dan Steinbock, the author of two books on the firm, is thanks not only to sisu, but also to a remarkable willingness to embrace change and diversity. Nokia will need those traits in the years ahead.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

iPad reviews.

Read the transcript:
"The big screen makes all the difference in the world..." (CNN)

The iPad-- now in consumers' hands. It's being seen as either a game-changing device or a hit-and-a-miss. We're looking at why.

We start with CNN, which invited USA Today's media analyst in to break down the iPad.

Blitzer: "Is it fair to say it will revolutionize the way we deal with these kinds of things?"

Analyst: "I think so. The word revolutionize always is a little bit overhyped, but certainly this has groundbreaking potential."

Most reviewers think so and are raving about the iPad. Most -- but not all. Here's CBS News.

"iPad doubters are focusing on what it DOESN'T do. It doesn't have a camera. My cell phone has a camera. My laptop has a camera. And it doesn't have a real keyboard as plenty of cell phones do."

"You know this one actually has a physical keyboard, which a lot of people want, and the iPad doesn't."

And because it doesn't use Adobe Flash -- Tech News Daily says many companies are having to make adjustments -- just to make it onto the iPad.

"Normally a first generation device with these sorts of limitations wouldn't worry major organizations, but this is Apple we're talking about. The company that single-handedly threw the entire music industry on its head."

So will the iPad change the media using experience? Well, a PC World analyst told Fox News that depends on whether you look at it as a need -- or a want -- especially for a device costing between $500 and $800.

"The real question is, is there a need for this middle device? Between your Smart Phone, which you're not gonna be able to get rid of by carrying this...and the laptops which you have at home or at the office. The thing I think this is great for is travelling or commuting or even just sitting on the couch, browsing the web, checking your email while you sitting there watching TV."

So what do you think? Is the iPad revolutionary -- or just another cool gadget?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Investing in Hollywood.

You may soon be able to invest money in how movies and stars will perform at the box office. CNN's Maggie Lake reports.

TV's music makers.

Apple iPad Goes On Sale In America.

The latest product from Apple, the long-awaited iPad, has hit US shops. The launch of the tablet computer, which was unveiled in January, is Apple's biggest release since the iPhone in 2007. Sky's Greg Milam reports.

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