We have reported on job cuts and possible losses by Panasonic over the past week. The other shoe dropped as Panasonic released their official financial statement and announced a staggering cut of 15,000 jobs.
The cuts are designed to make up for weak sales of car navigation systems, digital cameras, and semiconductor chips. These cuts are also due to compensate for a strong Japanese Yen. The strong Yen means costs are higher in Japan as compared to Korea, home of electronics giants LG and Samsung. The weaker economy there allows those companies to produce and sell goods at a lower cost, forcing Panasonic to take a lower profit per item to keep their prices competitive.
Voicemail can be a blessing and a curse. When you are unable to answer the phone, it’s nice to have a place where people can leave a message. But when you have to listen to message after message to get to the important ones, it can be frustrating. For BlackBerry users, YouMail has developed Visual Voicemail Plus, an application that allows you to see information about voicemails before you listen. It can even transcribe voicemail into text for when you are unable to check it.
The Visual Voicemail Plus app can be downloaded for free from the YouMail website. Of course, you have to be a customer of YouMail to use it. Once downloaded on your phone, you will be able to scroll through voicemail information like message length and when the call was made. You can also play, forward, and delete voicemails from the app.
GridPoint and Control4 have partnered to create a home control system that will be tested in several trials this year. The system would use a “smart grid” that uses two way communication between homes and service providers. Control4 will provide an integrated control program, Home Energy Manager, that will allow homeowners to control HVAC, lighting, sprinklers, and more from a single location.
I’m having a hard time controlling my excitement about the newest enhancements to Google Earth. Try to restrain yourselves, this news is shocking. Google has added oceans to Google Earth. And you can time travel. Oh, and they added Mars. As in the planet. Sounds more like Google SciFi to me. Whatever you want to call it, Google is making a big deal about the new Google Earth. And while the new oceans and Mars explorations are neat, I don’t see the major functionality changes that will make Google Earth the powerhouse it could be.
The Holy Grail of computing (there’s a lot of those, aren’t there?) for businesses is the paperless office. Since computers gained a foothold in the 1980s, many have dreamed of replacing all that paper strewn around their office with a simple, clean machine. The reality is, paper is pretty efficient. It’s easy to use, requires no tech support, and is familiar. Google kept those things in mind when they developed the Tasks app in Gmail Labs. The goal, like so many before them, was to improve on paper to the point that Tasks replaced paper. The biggest advantage paper had over Tasks, portability. Not anymore according to Google.
As of February 2, Tasks can be managed directly by iPhones and Android based devices, and the Tasks site can be accessed by any browser that supports xhtml, which includes many cell phone browsers. The cell phone browser version has all the same functionality as the PC browser version, allowing you to create new tasks and check off old ones. Will this replace paper? Don’t bet on it. But it may prevent my wife from washing all my important to do lists.
After surviving US and European Antitrust lawsuits for bundling their Internet Explorer browser with Windows, Microsoft is finally feeling the hit from a group they never expected — the consumer. It seems that less and less people are using the built in IE browser and are switching to better browsers, namely Firefox, Google’s Chrome, and the surprise of the group, Apple’s Safari. The news comes just weeks before the release of IE 8, which is receiving good reviews from testers.
For the mod-happy cell phone owner, Israeli-based modu sells a modular based cell phone. The core system is a little bigger than an iPod Nano, and there are several cases, each with different features and functionalities, that the base snaps into. While the phones are still not available anywhere, they are being marketed in Europe and the Middle East, but communications giant Qualcomm may be looking to bring the phone to the US as it has invested $7 million in modu.
You read that right. In the midst of story after story of record corporate losses and job cuts, TiVo will announce its first profitable fiscal year. After being left for dead just a few years ago, TiVo has used a combination of new features, new contracts, and a lawsuit win to re-establish itself as a player in the home entertainment market. With no debt, over $200 million in cash, and big plans, TiVo hopes this won’t be its last profitable year.
We reported last week that Panasonic was cutting several jobs in Asia. That was the what, today brings the why. On Wednesday, Panasonic is expected to announce a net 300 billion yen ($3.36 billion) loss for the business year that ends in March. The loss will be Panasonic’s first since 2001.
The loss is attributed to “streamlining” manufacturing operations and valuation losses on its stock. Panasonic is not the only Japanese electronics company hurting in this economy. Hitachi, Toshiba, Sony, and Sharp are all expected to announce losses for the year. Pretax profits from the group are expected to fall by more than 12 trillion yen ($133.5 billion), a 24.5 percent fall. These number show the global scale of this current recession.
Nice to see that Sirius XM is catching up with the rest of the media world and have finally developed an app for the iPhone. NiceMac announced they will submit the new app, called uSirius Starplayer, to Apple for approval on January 31.
After over a year and a half of rumors and speculation, the Wall Street Journal reported that Dell will indeed announce plans to release smartphones aimed to compete with Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry in February–maybe. Dell refused to comment on the report and the Journal admits that plans are not finalized and could be scrapped at the last minute.
The global economic crisis continues to cause job loss throughout the world. Panasonic announced it will cut 560 jobs in Asia, and Best Buy will layoff an undisclosed number of workers at its corporate office. The announcements come on the tail of massive cuts on Monday by Texas Instruments and other tech giants.
Panasonic’s cuts come from two factories in Asia. The company will close and electronics parts plant in Malacca, Malaysia, leaving 500 without jobs. The other 60 will come from cuts at a battery factory in the Philippines. The company also announced it will merge two plants in Selangor, Malaysia in September. The merger will cause further job cuts, though Panasonic declined to speculate on the number. Further cuts may come as Panasonic completes its takeover of Sanyo Electric Co.