This was supposed to be Research In Motion’s come-back moment. Its last chance to show that the newest Blackberry, the 10, was going to be amazing enough to silence all those voices who said Blackberry was dead. It was not that moment.
Instead, Blackberry released quarterly results that confirmed analysts’ worst fears: It is bleeding cash, laying off a third of its workforce and delaying the launch of Blackberry 10 - again.
I don’t know why I am surprised. At every turn, at every opportunity to right itself, Blackberry management has failed miserably, smiling as they dig the grave. It seems incredible that current CEO Thorsten Heins can cling to the idea of launching the Blackberry 10 sometime next year - after the next generation iPhone comes out, after the holiday sales season, in dead of winter when consumers have no money left.
Even more incredible – the Blackberry 10 will not have a physical keyboard – just a touch screen. What? Isn’t the keyboard the reason people love their blackberry?
Talk to an analyst about RIM these days and all they can do is shake their heads. Before this earnings report there was a small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, Research In Motion could do what Steve Jobs did back in the 1990s and bring the company back from the brink. But Blackberry is no Apple.
When I asked technology analyst Peter Misek, of Jefferies & Co., whether Blackberry put itself on the block as a whole he was pessimistic. “It will be very difficult for anyone to buy them," he said. "A buyer would have to get a handle on the fundamentals and they are deteriorating too rapidly.”
Analysts have slashed their forecasts and at least one is now on record saying RIM will fail and be out of the market by 2020. Others continue to think that the company’s intellectual property and user base have value, but they say management has to get more serious about selling.
It is hard to stay on top in the rapidly evolving tech space, but if companies had tombstones, RIM’s would say, Killed by Management.
Copenhagen (CNN) - Meeting the men and women whose inventions have changed how we live our lives seems a world away from the daily bombardment of news on the state of Europe’s economy.
While the markets were reeling over Spain’s bank bailout, and trading floor chatter was Greece, Italy and what the European Central Bank can, can’t or should do, the Marketplace Europe team was at the European Inventor Awards in Copenhagen.
It was truly inspirational and refreshing to think about business without focusing on what has gone wrong, how companies are struggling and what impact this is having on the global economy. FULL POST
Herat, Afghanistan (CNN) - In several Afghan provinces the fight to curb the growing of opium poppies seems to be a losing battle.
In 2011 a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime survey said opium poppy cultivation rose by 7% overall from the prior year. Opium poppy has been one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban especially since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Poppy cultivation is expected to grow partly because the opium poppy's prices are rising and because farmers are having a hard time deriving as much profit from alternative crops.
But one Afghan province is showing real progress in doing just that. The alternative crop is the world's most expensive spice, saffron.
London (CNN) – You’d be forgiven if the mild bounce in the markets Monday had you dreaming of better times for Greece and the eurozone. Your wakeup call comes to you courtesy Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, former French Finance Minister and the latest establishment figure to heap scorn on Greece.
In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian newspaper, Lagarde may have for the first time uttered in public what some suspect many European politicians are saying behind closed doors. It’s payback time for Greece.
London (CNN) – Are European Union governments missing a trick by taking small and medium-sized firms for granted?
In Germany, such businesses - the Mittelstand - have been nurtured, and in return significantly boosted the country's economy.
As our regular viewers will know, over the last few months Marketplace Europe’s travels have taken us inside small and medium-sized companies around the region.
We’ve talked about the way they run their businesses, the bigger macro environment and prospects for Europe and the single currency.
The common theme of each conversation is concern that well-intentioned incoming governments - from France, Greece and the Netherlands - will tax smaller firms out of business rather than offering incentives and protection to keep growing in such challenging economic times.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published after talks to form a new government following the May 6 election failed. Greece now faces its second election, on June 17.
London (CNN) – Hello, Greece.
The world is again focusing on you. The economic pain and social unrest has rightly made voters and politicians the world over debate austerity, growth and structural reform.
What you are going through has made it clear that austerity is not an easy solution.
You, the Greek people now have a chance to do something I suspect millions in Europe would dearly love to do - vote on whether to leave the euro. That is what June 17 will now be about, because there will be massive pain for you, Greece, if you stay with the economic reforms, and even more pain if you reject the loans from Europe and the International Monetary Fund. Pain either way.
London (CNN) – So far, the markets have taken the elections in Greece and France in stride. And why not? What has changed?
France helped broker the so-called Fiscal Compact, which is at the heart of closer integration in Europe. Does France now want to pull away from the eurozone and allow Germany to take all the decisions? Of course President-elect Francois Hollande would not want that.
London (CNN) – On Sunday the French head to the polls to elect the next French president. Voters may be intellectualizing who offers the best deal for them, but the business community has a different set of priorities.
They want changes to the business environment and more flexible labour laws to allow them to flourish. Yet I’ve spoken to bosses who fear that instead, the next President of France will tax small and medium firms out of business.
The French economy desperately needs structural reform. Unemployment, at 10%, is higher than it has been for 12 years, public spending is too high and growth is a piffling 1.7%.
Other European countries in economic strife have embraced austerity packages: Think Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Admittedly, there are varying levels of success, and austerity is never going to be a vote-winner.
New York (CNN) – Don’t look now, but the phone hacking scandal that shuttered the British tabloid “News of the World” and cost James Murdoch his job at BSkyB is about to hit stateside - at least if Mark Lewis has his way.
The UK lawyer who represents alleged victims of phone hacking, including the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, is in New York this week meeting with lawyers and exploring legal options against parent company News Corp.
Lewis, who represents three to four people – one believed to be an American citizen and one person from the world of sport – says his clients phones were hacked while they were on U.S soil. The incidents are linked to alleged hacking that took place at the “News of the World,” but when I sat down with Lewis in New York, he was quite clear he believes the problem is much more widespread.
Hong Kong (CNN) – American businessman Scott Huff has a tough juggling act. His business spans three countries: China, Cambodia and the United States. That means keeping his eye on many things, including three separate corporate tax codes. "My advice about corporate taxes is to stay on your toes. It's always changing. It's part of the total burden," he says.
Huff's company, Innovate International, is a design engineering firm based in Shenzhen, China that manufactures everything from hand tools to pet toys. Corporate tax in China is a flat rate of 25%. Cambodia has none if you get can "qualified investor status." Most international companies easily obtain this status because the Cambodian government is trying to attract more business to the country. The U.S. corporate tax rate can be as high as 35% but will likely change since the Republican candidates and President Obama have all proposed to lower the tax rate in order to stimulate the U.S. economy.
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