Mobile: BlackBerry maker hits reset button
A major overhaul is underway at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, said Will Connors in The Wall Street Journal. CEO Thorsten Heins is taking “drastic actions” to keep the struggling firm afloat in the face of withering competition from Apple and other smartphone makers. Under a new strategy, RIM will focus less on the consumer market and more on what the company says it does best: serving its “core corporate customers.” Several top executives, including longtime co-CEO Jim Balsillie, are resigning, and Heins said the company was exploring whether to sell parts of its business, including its network, software assets, and patent portfolio. With sales plummeting and the share price down 75 percent over the past year, “it is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs,” Heins said last week.
Here’s more proof that when tech giants fall, it’s often with dizzying speed, said Adam Thierer in Forbes.com. Five years ago, the BlackBerry was on its way to becoming a sector-defining brand, “like Kleenex or Band-Aid.” Today, RIM is a “financial basket case” that symbolizes “just how turbulent life in the modern digital economy can be.” Such rapid reversals of fortune suggest a question: Could it be long before Apple and Google “meet a similar fate?”
Tech: Foxconn revamps labor practices
Foxconn, Apple’s top supplier, has agreed to “sharply curtail working hours and significantly increase wages” at plants in China, said Charles Duhigg and Steven Greenhouse in The New York Times. The company, which makes electronic products for hundreds of global firms, will cap employees’ schedules at 49 hours a week starting next year, after an audit by the Fair Labor Association found safety risks and excessive overtime. Because Foxconn is China’s largest private employer, with 1.2 million workers, its reforms “could signal a new, wide-reaching change in working conditions” throughout the country.
Sports: Record sum paid for L.A. Dodgers
A team of bidders fronted by former NBA superstar Magic Johnson has agreed to pay $2.15 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, a global record for a sports franchise, said Ken Bensinger and Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times. The new owners bid $500 million more than the next highest offer, and hope to squeeze future profits from TV rights and land-development deals near Dodger Stadium. But there are concerns they “may have been too optimistic” in their plans for the team’s financial turnaround, given uncertainties in the local cable and real estate markets.
Euro crisis: New bailout funds pledged
The 17 countries that use the euro are trying again to prevent the sovereign debt crisis from spreading, said Ian Traynor in The Guardian (U.K.). EU finance ministers said last week that they’d boosted emergency bailout funding for indebted countries to more than $1 trillion, a figure they hoped would encourage the International Monetary Fund to commit more funds of its own. But skeptics say the firewall still isn’t big enough, and that only about two thirds of the money represents fresh funds.
Credit cards: Hackers steal account numbers
In a major security breach affecting all major credit and debit card brands, hackers have stolen up to 1.5 million card numbers, said Julianne Pepitone in CNNMoney.com. Global Payments, an Atlanta-based transaction-processing company, discovered the breach in early March but only reported it publicly last week. It said cardholders’ names, addresses, and Social Security numbers were not exposed in the hacking of some of its servers, but that it was still working with card issuers to assess the damage.