A Swedish Tribe Aids BlackBerry Rescue Bid – WSJ.com

TribeResearch In Motion Ltd. [RIM.T +1.83%] is rolling out two new BlackBerrys next month that Chief Executive Thorsten Heins promises will make RIM competitive again in the global smartphone market.

If he is successful, a big chunk of the credit will go to a small acquisition RIM made more than a year before Mr. Heins took over in January. In 2010 RIM bought Sweden-based The Astonishing Tribe, a small but respected tech-design house, and charged it with reinventing the look and feel of the BlackBerry’s user interface.

That interface recently has garnered positive reviews from analysts, RIM partners and some outside application developers, who are testing thousands of prototypes of the new BlackBerry operating system.

Many of those early endorsements have been hedged, however, because the final version hasn’t been available. Most app developers, who are key to RIM’s success, largely are withholding judgment until after the Jan. 30 launch.

“It is going to be a massive departure from the BlackBerry experience of the past,” said Chris Eben, a partner at Toronto-based Working Group, a Web and mobile development-and-design firm that does work for RIM. Mr. Eben has used the prototype.

Odds that RIM can recapture the market dominance it once enjoyed in smartphones appear slim. Consulting firm IDC recently estimated that RIM’s share of the global smartphone market stands at 4.7%, down from 9.5% at this time last year and from more than 50% in 2009. Even among RIM’s core customer base—corporate and government clients—IDC expects shipments of Apple Inc.’s [AAPL -3.76%] iPhones to surpass those for BlackBerry by next year.

via A Swedish Tribe Aids BlackBerry Rescue Bid – WSJ.com.

HMV battling to avoid loan term breach after summer sales slump | Business | The Guardian

HMV Nipper logo

HMV is once again fighting for survival after a fresh collapse in demand for CDs, games and DVDs over the summer set the high street specialist on a perilous course that could mean it breaches the terms of its bank loans early in the new year.

Revealing a first-half loss of £36.1m, its chief executive, Trevor Moore, said tough trading conditions meant there were “material uncertainties facing the business”. He insisted closing stores or putting the retailer in administration was not currently “part of our plan” but said he was seeking to cut running costs. “I joined the group because I believe it has a strong future,” he said. “If I thought we had tried everything I would not have joined.”

HMV, famous for its Nipper the dog mascot, banks all its profit at Christmas. Analysts had previously pencilled in £10m for this year but Moore said dire summer sales meant its performance would now fall short of City estimates. Like-for-like sales slumped 10% in the six months to 27 October after suppliers held back new titles for fear they would be overlooked as the nation focused on a summer of sport. The warning sent HMV’s shares into freefall, closing down nearly 40%, at 2.49p, giving the retailer a stock market value of around £10m.

The retailer, which remains burdened with a £176m debt despite having sold off the Waterstones chain and its live music venues to raise cash, said it was “probable” it would breach its banking covenants when they were tested in January.

A breach would put the banks in the driving seat and could result in their calling in their loans. The company said it would be able to meet a £30m payment due then and had “adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future”, adding it was “currently operating within” the terms of its £220m banking facility.

via HMV battling to avoid loan term breach after summer sales slump | Business | The Guardian.

Hidden Bias: Why You Should Pitch After Lunch – Businessweek

English: This is one of the huge welcoming sig...Silicon Valley’s elite startup accelerator is getting more selective. Paul Graham recently announced that the number of companies accepted to Y Combinator, the Mountain View (Calif.) program called the “Harvard of entrepreneurship,” will likely shrink to fewer than 50, from 84, over the summer because “more things than usual broke” with the larger batch. Looking for signs indicating which applicants would run into trouble led Graham to an unusual admission of bias: The entrepreneurs that Y Combinator interviewed in the afternoon were more likely to fail than those accepted in the morning. Graham’s conclusion: “It turned out that, like judges, we were more tolerant after lunch.”

Graham’s discovery is just one example of how decisions can be influenced by unexpected factors. Hidden bias is a risk in all sorts of systems that aspire to be objective: Pharma-funded drug research finds more favorable outcomes than government-backed trials. Hiring managers are less likely to call back job applicants named Lakisha and Jamal than Emily and Brendan. University tech transfer officers reviewing the same invention are less likely to recommend commercializing it if they think the inventor was a woman. And even middle-aged white guys in Silicon Valley feel they have to dress down and shave their gray hair to compete with younger, hoodie-clad candidates for top jobs at startups.

via Hidden Bias: Why You Should Pitch After Lunch – Businessweek.

BBC News – How ‘point of sale’ became much more than a fancy calculator

Point Four Touch Point of Sale TillYou probably still think of it as a “cash register” – basically a fancy calculator and cash drawer that sits at the end of the shopping aisle just before the exit, which gives you the correct change on your way out.

Sure, it has a few more flashing lights than a few years ago, but it’s still essentially a machine whose only role in life is to accommodate a transaction every few minutes.

Wrong.

The modern point-of-sale (POS) system is a tightly integrated computer that almost certainly knows all about your buying history, how often you shop online and what you’re likely to buy next week.

It is also able to communicate along the entire length of the store’s supply chain right back to the factory if necessary.

Not bad for a device that has its origins in the late 1800s and was used primarily for producing a simple receipt – one copy for the merchant and one for the costumer.

via BBC News – How ‘point of sale’ became much more than a fancy calculator.

Why paying tax is better for you than huge ad campaign – Editor Viewpoint, Opinion – Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

taxes

Public perception would appear to be all for some companies. Upset the general public who you depend on to buy your products and you’ll find yourself in all sorts of difficulties.

That’s certainly the big worry which has faced Starbucks since it was revealed that it pays very little corporation tax to the UK Treasury.

Consumers have been outraged that such a profitable high street giant should be ducking and diving out of its tax obligations and, although we won’t know until it releases its results, they are bound to have been voting with their feet.

It’s not the first time such a conglomerate has irked its fans but it’s certainly the first time such a company has pledged to make such an unusual gesture.

Starbucks said yesterday it will pay more corporation tax over the next two years.Let me say that again.

Starbucks said it wants to pay more tax even though by law it is under no obligation to do so.

I know.

via Why paying tax is better for you than huge ad campaign – Editor Viewpoint, Opinion – Belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

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