Feature

The news at a glance

Apple: Will the iPad be a game changer?; Autos: Toyota halts sales amid safety concerns; Investment banking: Goldman trims bonuses; Real estate: Developer hands over historic property; Retailing: Sam’s Club layoffs

Apple: Will the iPad be a game changer?
Capping months of speculation, Apple this week unveiled the iPad, a tablet computer that could change the way people use media, said Jason Chen in Gizmodo.com. Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the iPad as “a third category of device” that falls between a laptop and a smart phone. Capable of running applications sold through Apple’s App Store, it can be used to browse the Web, share photos, play games over the Internet, watch videos, read e-books, and listen to music. Various versions of the iPad will retail for $499 to $829.

Finally, a gadget that lives up to its hype, said John Sutter in CNN.com. With its bright, 10-inch screen, the iPad could well turn out to be the game changer that revives the fading fortunes of print publishers. Several publishing companies, including Penguin, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, have already signed deals to display their books on the iPad and sell them through Apple’s new iBooks store. And magazine and newspaper publishers are betting that the device “could renew interest in their content while bringing new revenue through subscriptions plans.”

Autos: Toyota halts sales amid safety concerns
Toyota this week took the “unprecedented step” of halting sales and production of eight of its models, including the “top-selling” Camry and Corolla, said Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times. The company told its 1,200 U.S. dealers that the shutdown would last until the company could correct a “suspect pedal assembly” that in rare cases can cause the gas pedal to remain depressed after the driver’s foot is removed, leading to “runaway acceleration.” The moves could cut into Toyota’s sales by some 105,000 cars a month.

Investment banking: Goldman trims bonuses
Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s leading investment bank, reported a $13.4 billion profit for 2009, the largest annual profit in the firm’s history, said Graham Bowley in The New York Times. But in “an uncharacteristic show of restraint,” Goldman reduced its bonus pool to “only” $16.2 billion, or 36 percent of its 2009 revenue. The Wall Street norm is closer to 50 percent of revenue. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s bonus will be paid entirely in stock.

Real estate: Developer hands over historic property
Property developer Tishman Speyer has abandoned its investment in two historic New York City apartment complexes, said Lingling Wei and Mike Spector in The Wall Street Journal. After defaulting on $4.4 billion borrowed to acquire the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village developments, Tishman Speyer said it would hand over the properties to its creditors in lieu of foreclosure. The company encountered stiff legal and popular resistance to its plan to convert the complexes’ rent-controlled apartments into market-rate units.

Retailing: Sam’s Club layoffs
Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart’s entry in the wholesale shopping club market, announced this week that it would lay off 11,200 employees, said Andria Cheng in Marketwatch.com. The bulk of the cuts will fall on the chain’s 10,000 mostly part-time product demonstrators. Sam’s Club plans to outsource its in-store product sampling and demonstration work to a third-party marketing company, Shopper Events. Sam’s Club is the weak sister in Wal-Mart’s stable, with lower sales and profits than either Wal-Mart or Wal-Mart International.

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