Entries tagged with “Japan”.

A Vancouver-based company has launched a service that offers 360-degree, street-level views of Vancouver streets, similar to a Google service available in the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

A smartphone model launched in Japan last week by Research in Motion has been pulled from shelves in Japan after customers said the devices were hot – but not always in a good way.

TOKYO - JUNE 26:  (L to R) Kazuo Hirai, Presid...
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Sony warned it would post a record $2.9 billion annual operating loss due to sliding demand and a stronger yen, and unveiled fresh restructuring steps to revive its ailing electronics operations. The operating loss will be Sony’s first in 14 years, underscoring deepening troubles for a company that has fallen behind Apple’s iPod in portable music and Nintendo in videogames, and is losing money on flat TVs.

“Sony needs further restructuring, not just cost-cutting but a revamping of its business operations,” said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

Sony said it now expects an operating loss of 260 billion yen for the year to March, down from an earlier projection for a 200 billion yen profit and far worse than earlier media estimates of a loss of 100 billion yen.

The maker of Bravia LCD TVs and PlayStation game consoles said it would respond by accelerating restructuring, more than doubling a cost-cutting target for the year to March 2010 to 250 billion yen.

Sony said it would end TV production and design operations at one plant in Japan and consolidate those operations into another factory in the country. It plans to cut headcount by 30 percent in operations related to TV design worldwide.

Other measures include consolidation of resources for batteries and small and medium-sized liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, and pay cuts for directors and managers.

It expects restructuring charges to total 170 billion through the year to March 2010.

Last month Sony outlined a restructuring plan that included curbing investment, closing five to six plants and cutting a total of 16,000 regular and contract jobs globally to save 100 billion yen a year in costs.

But Sony’s management, led by chief executive Howard Stringer, faced criticism from analysts and investors who said more drastic measures were needed to streamline a sprawling empire that includes semiconductors, movies and insurance.

“Sony has to consider ways to lower fixed costs not only for its TV business but for the whole company. It will have to start cutting development costs in addition to production costs,” said Nomura Securities senior analyst Eiichi Katayama.

Sony attributed 340 billion of the 460 billion swing in its operating forecast to its core electronics division, as the slowing global economy depresses demand for its digital cameras, video recorders and flat TVs.

But it has also been hurt by the slide in the Japanese stock market, which sliced into the value of securities held by its financial unit. Slower sales in its game and movie divisions have also hit its results.

Illustrating the problems Sony faces, Japanese exports plunged 35 percent in December from a year earlier, with electronics sales to China and other parts of Asia among the worst affected as Western orders to Asian assembly plants dry up. The yen rallied nearly 20 percent against the dollar last year and hit a 13-year high of 87.10 on Wednesday.

Sony is not the only electronics maker suffering.

Rival Samsung Electronics this month reorganized itself into two major groups in response to the global downturn, while Panasonic has also cut its outlook and stepped up restructuring measures. Sony’s shares closed down 2.6 percent at 1,938 yen ahead of the revision, underperforming a 1.9 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average.

Story Copyright © 2009 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region will grow at a slower rate in 2009. But Asian economies will fare better during the current economic crisis than those in the West, according to a study. IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region will grow at a slower rate in 2009 than in 2008, but Asian economies will fare better during the current economic crisis than those in the West, according to Springboard Research.

The research company expects growth in IT spending in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) region to be 7.1 percent in 2009, a decrease from 10.2 percent in 2008.

Springboard’s Asia-Pacific IT Market Predictions 2009 released Thursday, noted that even though all countries in the region will be affected by the economic crunch, the degree of fallout will vary.

India and China will continue to grow, albeit at lower rates, the analyst said. The two countries’ relative strength in IT spending will help power the region’s growth and increase their dominance in the Asia-Pacific IT market.

Mature IT markets in export-oriented economies such as Taiwan will be most affected. Similarly, those heavily dependent on the financial services industry including Hong Kong and Singapore are at risk of a significant IT spending slowdown in 2009, Springboard predicted.

Thailand will also experience comparatively slower growth as it deals with both the economic crisis and its ongoing political troubles that have increased business uncertainty in the country.

According to Springboard, Indonesia and Vietnam will face relatively lower risk of a spending cutback, as the combination of limited existing IT investments and solid domestic demand in these countries will ensure ongoing IT expenditure.

“Even with slower growth, Asia will continue to emerge as a critical region for IT vendors and we will continue to see a substantial shift in investment moving to Asia and other global emerging markets,” Dane Anderson, Springboard’s CEO and executive vice president of research, said in a media statement Thursday.

“While the crisis will affect Asia, it will also further cement the region as crucial to any global company’s growth strategy moving forward,” he noted.

The report added that over the next two to three years, the economic crisis will help drive the ongoing transfer of wealth, power and innovation from the West to the East.

Multinational vendors will continue to view Asia as a critical growth market for IT, Springboard said. It expects many more U.S.-based companies to transfer more resources–budgets and people–into the region and set up special teams at their corporate offices to focus only on emerging markets.

“Many of the larger IT vendors are already doing this and these initiatives will continue to expand, with other mid-tier vendors also adopting this strategy,” the research firm said in the report. These investments will help continue the education and awareness of IT within the region, which will help spur on more IT spending, especially in the small and midsize market space.

Springboard added: “We therefore believe that an increase in Asian IT spending will be an early indicator that the crisis is abating. At the end of this crisis, we will see Asia emerge as a much bigger part of many companies’ global strategies–both from IT vendors investing more in the region as well as other vertical industries funneling more investments into Asia; thus creating the opportunity for more IT spending related to these investments.”

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Why fighting zombie-bank syndrome with zero interest rates isn’t a great idea.

By Rachel Pulfer

That’s the news from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

On Tues. Dec. 16, the Fed issued a statement in which it slashed official target interest rates to a historic low range, to combat what most indicators Stateside show to be a rapidly deepening recession. The Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to reduce the target fed funds rate for interbank lending from 1% to a range of zero to 0.25%. That’s the lowest since the Fed started publishing the funds target in 1990.

The statement explained that the Fed will “employ all available tools to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability.” It added that it expected interest rates to remain low “for some time”. (The market-determined effective federal funds rate already has already hit record lows in recent weeks.)

The Dow took off on the news, leaping more than 300 points to close a whisker under 9,000. Other markets followed suit.

Officials also signaled a new phase for policy, in which lending programs financed by the Fed’s ballooning balance sheet replace the federal funds rate as the Fed’s primary policy tool.

“Over the next few quarters, the Federal Reserve will purchase large quantities of agency debt and mortgage-backed securities to provide support to the mortgage and housing markets. It will expand this … as conditions warrant,” read the statement. “The Committee is also evaluating the potential benefits of purchasing longer-term Treasury securities.”

Economists call this quantitative easing. In plain English, that means the Fed just vowed to print money, by flooding banks and mortgage agencies with credit at zero interest. The goal is to spur lending and jump-start a stagnant economy.

There is something of a precedent for what the Fed is doing. Japan did this earlier this decade, to jolt that country out of its decade-long deflationary slump. Back in 1996, the Japanese government took over ownership stakes in many of Japan’s banks to bail them out after a crisis. Lending froze, creating “zombie banks” — banks so risk-averse, all they did was sit on cash.

Sound familiar? Bernanke is clearly concerned that in the current climate, U.S. banks are at risk of going zombie, spurring a deflationary cycle that threatens to send the global economy into a tailspin. He’s right to be concerned: banks aren’t lending in the current environment, for the simple reason that demand has collapsed. The inflation report released by the U.S. government on Tuesday showed the Consumer Price Index was 3 percent lower last month than it had been three months earlier.

But is quantitative easing, coming on top of the US$350 billion bailout of financial services already paid out and other federal stimulus efforts to come in the winter, the answer?

Article continues here

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