February 2010 Archives

February 2, 2010

Google and Apple at War?

Two of California’s biggest technology giants are increasingly at odds and it looks more and more like they are turning into fierce competitors.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on the board of Apple for three years and at one time it was said that they had a pact not to poach each other’s employees. They were always thought to be united in fighting a bigger enemy – Microsoft.

In 2007, however, Google released Android, a mobile phone operating system; while the iPhone runs on a propitiatory operating system developed by Apple. At first, this was was seen as primarily an attack on Microsoft and its Windows OS. Still, the handwriting was on the wall, and Schmidt resigned from the board of Apple a month later.

Then, in the July 2009 Google announced the Google’s Chrome OS, a web-based operating system meant for netbooks, and has more recently even announced its own “app store” that would directly compete with the Apple app store. With the launch last week of the iPad – essentially a high end netbook – it seems Apple now considers the Chrome OS a direct threat.

Now it has really come to a head. Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs reportedly verbally attacked Google Inc. at an employee meeting after rolling out the new iPad tablet computer last week. Wired reported that Google’s entry into the phone business with its Nexus One drew the ire of Apple CEO. They quoted attendees of the meeting in which Jobs reportedly let loose a tirade where he called Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto “bullshit” “We did not enter the search business, they entered the phone business,” it reported Jobs told his employees. “Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.”

Filed under Information Technology, Internet, Telecommunications by

February 3, 2010

Sony Pictures to lay off 450

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., based in Culver City, will be laying off about 450 people and eliminating 100 open positions to cope with declining DVD sales. Most of the cuts at the studio will occur by the first week of March and will be in the home entertainment and information-technology units in the United States.

The company, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corp. also cut back last March, when it laid off nearly 250 people and eliminated nearly 100 open positions. Company staff was informed of the latest cuts in a memo Monday and through videos by the studio co-chairs on an employee Web site. “Our industry is affected by two things: It’s affected by the economy, of course, and it’s affected by technology,” co-chair Amy Pascal says in the video. “Over the last two years, it’s changed people’s DVD buying habits, which has had a huge effect on our company and the industry at large.”

The home video market has been declining as people have not been buying videos as often, and instead turn to rentals, which are far less profitable for the industry.

Filed under California Economy, Entertainment Industry, Japan by

California Wine Shipment Drop for first time in 16 years

California shipments of wine have dropped in 2009 for the first time since 1993. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, sales figures show that consumption is up 2.1 percent nationally, but consumers are turning to cheaper imports from Chile, Argentina and Australia as global production exceeds demand.  ”

The numbers announced last week by Woodside wine research firm Gomberg, Fredrikson &amp Associates analyst Jon Fredrikson at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. “As we basically had a financial heart attack, people just reined in their spending and were very cautious,” Fredrikson said. “They moved dramatically down to lower price points, below $5 and $7. Small wineries in the North Coast that sell bottles from $25 to $100 were basically shut out. Inventories backed up, and that just made it an ugly year.”

The biggest drop in wine sales is for bottles that retail for more than $20. Sales were off between 20 and 30 percent in 2009, Steve Rannekleiv, an analyst for Rabobank told the Chronicle.  During the same time, sales for wines that cost less than $6 a bottle rose 5 percent.

As consumers have tightened their purse strings, bulk wine imports from countries with lower production and land costs have climbed. Between 2007 and 2009, imports more than doubled to 13 million cases to capture 32 percent of the U.S. market. “Argentina is the sleeping giant,” Rannekleiv said. Argentina has 510,000 acres planted in grapes, compared with 480,000 in California, which produces 90 percent of the wine made in the United States.

Filed under Argentina, Wine by

February 9, 2010

Paypal suspends payment to India without explanation

PayPal, the online payment service provider that is a owned by eBay of San Jose, has shocked Indian nationals who rely on the service by suspending payment transactions to and from India for more than a week. Almost nothing was given in explanation for this abrupt action except a vague blog post on their website by Anuj Nayar, a PayPal spokesman:

Personal payments to and from India and transfers to local banks in India have been suspended while we work with our business partners and other stakeholders to address questions they have about the service

PayPal executives have been unavailable for comment on specific reasons why the service was discontinued. There is speculation that this may have something to do with new Indian government rules aimed at preventing money laundering. Last November, the Indian government introduced rules requiring financial institutions and other intermediaries to verify the identity of clients carrying out international money transfers.

Paypal has not just been blocking all their money transfer but has also not letting the Indian account holders withdraw money they already have in their accounts. For the past week, merchants have been unable to withdraw funds in Rupees to local Indian banks. shocking many Indians who have relyed on the service. The blocking started on January 28th and Paypal will only say that it is working to resolve the current situations in “the shortest span of time.”

Filed under Banking and Financial Services, India by

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