Blackberry Maker To Cut 2,000 Jobs As It Struggles Against iPhone

Blackberry

Blackberry maker Research in Motion plans to cut 2,000 jobs from its global workforce as it struggles against the iPhone and smartphones using Google's Android operating system.

Although BlackBerrys have dominated the corporate smartphone market, their popularity in the consumer market has been short-lived.

Last week, Apple reported selling 20.3 million iPhones in the April to June period, a record number. RIM sold 13.2 million BlackBerrys in the March to May period.

Android sales are also strong and command 38% of the smartphone market worldwide.

The launch of its PlayBook tablet computer also wasn't as successful as the company had hoped, and phone companies have shown little interest in pushing it.

Only 500,000 PlayBooks were shipped by the end of May, compared to 9.2 million iPad’s sold in the last quarter.

RIM is making these cuts on the back of the acquisition of software company QNX in April 2010, which brought in 270 employees. 

QNX will provide the operating system that will power a new generation of RIM  smartphones expected in 2012.

The company is due to release seven new phones this year, all based on the updated Blackberry operating system.

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London 2012: With Just A Year To Go, City Shows It’s On The Right Track

Tom_daley

As a vision in microcosm of how things could go in a year's time, it may prove pretty accurate. The one-year-to-go celebrations for London 2012 were a mix of the sublime (the interior of the new aquatics centre was immediately hailed as a "masterpiece") and the ridiculous (one-eyed mascot Wenlock cavorting poolside with dignitaries as they watched synchronised swimmers to the strains of Queen).

There was the odd gaffe, a few transport concerns and a dash of controversy. But the overwhelming feeling was one of mounting enthusiasm. The only thing lacking – Tom Daley's leap into the diving pool aside – was the sporting spectacle that will underpin £9.3bn of public investment and a multitude of legacy promises.

Organisers will hope that the weather at 20.12pm on 27 July next year, when the opening ceremony is due to begin, matches the blues skies that greeted Wednesday night's proceedings in Trafalgar Square. But, with respect to The Feeling and DJ Kissy Sell Out, it may be hoped that the opening ceremony director, Danny Boyle, is setting his sights slightly higher for a year's time.

The International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, formally invited 202 competing nations to London, declaring: "The athletes will be ready and so will London."

David Cameron added: "I believe this will be a great advertisement for our country. We must offer the greatest ever games in the world's greatest country."

And London's mayor, Boris Johnson, quipped: "The Olympic venues are already so ready, we might as well call a snap Olympics tomorrow and catch the rest of the world napping."

The day began at St Pancras with Lord Coe and the Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, who flinched only slightly when introduced as Hugh Williamson by Eurostar's commercial director, welcoming athletes and members of the public from France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The heavy presence of international media throughout the day served to underline the truth of the oft-repeated statements from Johnson and others that the eyes of the world would be on the capital for the duration of the Games.

After an interlude while Coe, Robertson and the former British medallist Colin Jackson had their feet cast in clay, the caravan then moved on to the Olympic Park, via the seven-minute Javelin train that now links St Pancras and Stratford International.

The main focus of the day was the handover of the £269m Zaha Hadid-designed aquatics centre, a striking if controversial presence at the entrance to the park that will be used by thousands streaming into it from Stratford station every day.

The sweeping lines of the aquatics centre – initially said to have justified its high price tag – are obscured by two ugly but functional temporary banks of seats. Coe defended them, saying it was the most cost effective and sustainable solution. In legacy mode, the wings will be taken away and glass panels put on the side of a wave shaped building that will seat 2,500 and, it is hoped, attract more than 800,000 visitors a year. Even so, it is likely to require public subsidy to break even.

"This wasn't the time or the place for vanity building. We made a judgment and at Games time they're probably not going to be the prettiest things on the curtilage of a beautiful pool," said Coe. "Those are the tough judgments you make all the time. I think this, and the stadium in its own raw way, and the velodrome, are as good as it gets."

If the exterior has divided opinion, there was widespread praise for the inside of the venue, with its steep sides concentrating all 35,000 eyes on the 50-metre pool and diving pool beneath the undulating roof. There may, though, be concerns about how far away the back rows are from the action.

"I have seen so many venues in my life that I had a visual shock when I came in," said Rogge. "Everything stands out: the harmony, the quality, the innovation. It's a masterpiece."

An ebullient Johnson added: "Is it not mind-blowing? It is an architectural poem; it's a sinuous wave of beauty. That water looks good enough to drink. It is gin-clear."

The synchronised swimmers who christened the pool paid tribute to the attention to detail and the feel of the water, but were more excited about what a London games may do for their sport. "I think it will really raise the awareness. Because it's here, people who haven't seen it before and don't understand it will realise how hard it is and how hard we train," said 20-year-old Anya Tarasiuk.

With the permanent venues complete, attention will move to Locog's ability to move from planning mode to delivery, while building public enthusiasm throughout the country. Despite Coe's insistence that public approval levels were higher than at this stage during any previous Games cycle, a new ComRes poll from ITV suggested there is some way to go. Almost half of those surveyed said they did not feel the Games represented value for money, while three-quarters thought it would bring no benefit to their area.

Much will depend on the performance of British athletes, who have been set the target of finishing fourth in the medal table, and the extent to which they can ensure home advantage outweighs the added pressure.

David Davies, who won silver in the 10km open water in Beijing, had no doubts. "I got the buzz when I first walked in and I can imagine next year, full of Brits supporting us, it will be great. We've never had a pool of this magnitude in Britain. It makes it all sink in. The water felt good and I had a bit more oomph in my stroke. It's the same thing as the 12th man in football," he said. "When you're hurting on the last length and when you've got to dig in deep in the close ones when you're neck and neck, having that extra buzz is special. I love the big atmosphere. There's going to be none bigger than this."

After tumbling into the diving pool, Daley said: "It's great … absolutely incredible."

A year from now, London will welcome 10,500 athletes from more than 200 countries, 5,000 coaches and team officials, 20,000 media personnel and hundreds of thousands of visitors. The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, insisted the country would be ready for them.

Delivering on the legacy promises that helped secure the Games in the first place may be rather more difficult.

"I think this will be the first true legacy games," said Hunt. "The global standard we want to set is that this is the first games designed with what will happen afterwards in mind."

One-year Countdown To The London Olympics Begins

Olympic

The Olympic Stadium with the figure 1 mown into the grass to mark one year to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, is seen in this undated aerial photograph released in London on July 27, 2011.

The London Olympics entered its final year countdown on Wednesday with diver Tom Daley poised to make a splash in the newly-opened Aquatics Centre before the call goes out to the world to come and join the party.

"With a year to go, we are inviting the athletes, spectators and visitors from around the world to come to the UK next summer. It's 'London Calling'," declared London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.

The completion of the wave-shaped Aquatics Centre, with Daley due to make the first dive in the evening, allowed organisers to congratulate themselves on delivering the Olympic Park's permanent venues with 12 months to go, on time and on budget.

Permanent venues complete

"To have all… permanent venues complete with a year still to go to the Games is a great achievement, and a firm sign that we are well on track to deliver a truly spectacular show in 2012," London Mayor Boris Johnson declared.

"It's a pretty big moment for us," said Coe of entering the final stretch after years of hard work — the most important milestone on the journey so far and marked by a '1' mown into the turf at the new Olympic Stadium.

London won the bid for the Games in 2005, and will be the first city to host the Olympics for a third time after previously doing so in 1948 and 1908.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge will formally invite the world's athletes to the Games at an evening event – at 8.12pm European time – in Trafalgar Square that will give a taste of the excitement to come.

"One year to go is a special time for any host nation," he said in a statement.

"It is the moment… when Olympic dreams start to come into focus and when the world turns its attention in earnest to the city that will welcome it in only 365 days' time.

"London 2012 is now ideally placed not just to deliver top level Olympic competition but also to leave a great legacy to the British people." added Rogge, congratulating organisers for their work to date. 
 
Medals unveiled

Johnson will also welcome the world while the design of the medals, an eagerly awaited secret, will be unveiled for the first time.

"There is much to do in the next 12 months but we can take huge comfort in the progress that has been made so far," said Coe.

"We are absolutely on track and determined to stage Olympic and Paralympic Games which will deliver on the promises we made in Singapore (in 2005), inspire the athletes and make the nation proud."

3.5 million tickets sold so far

More than 3.5 million tickets have been sold so far, with all sports bar soccer sold out in the British offering, and a quarter of a million people have applied for 70,000 volunteer positions.

Some 15,000 athletes from more than 200 countries will compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with some 10,000 team officials and 20,000 accredited media also expected.

Britain, fourth in the gold medal table in Beijing in 2008, will have 550 athletes competing across the 26 sports and chasing an even greater tally.

"Knowing full well that we have gone from being the hunters to being the hunted, no detail is being overlooked and absolutely nothing is being left to chance," said British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan.

How Do You Measure Happiness?

Smile

The government will ask people how happy they are in order to measure the nation's wellbeing for the first time, the chief statistician has revealed.

Jill Mathieson, head of the Office for National Statistics, said that since April the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) had asked respondents to rank between one and 10 "how satisfied are you with your life nowadays, how happy did you feel yesterday, how anxious did you feel yesterday and to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?".

The results of the survey of 200,000 people will be published next July. Using these and a set of "objective" measurements, such as life expectancy and wealth, the government will devise a scheme to allow civil servants to assess the impact future policies will have on the wellbeing of the population.

Mathieson said it was clear that how well-off people feel depends on things, such as their health or whether they have a job, that GDP does not capture.

After 10 months of public consultation, she said, the ONS had "highlighted that the things that matter the most are our health, relationships, work and the environment. These are also themes that the majority of respondents agree should be reflected in a measure of national wellbeing, with the addition of education and training."

She argued that it was time to concentrate on household incomes, consumption and wealth rather than just total production.

Launching the findings of the wellbeing debate, Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, said he would be publishing a discussion paper on how to revise the civil service "green book", which issues guidance to mandarins on how ministerial proposals should be appraised before public funds are committed.

He wanted a "social cost/benefit analysis" to be offered by civil servants in the future. "[It's] to give people an idea on how to submit to ministers … how can they frame it in the right way."

The question is how to measure well-being. One important facet is how to assess people's "quality of life". O'Donnell said he had been surprised by the beneficial effect of "altruism" on people giving their time to volunteer and was looking at releasing civil servants to help in charities on a pro bono basis.

David Cameron – who first floated the idea of a "happiness index" in 2005 when he was running for the leadership of the Conservative party – last November asked the ONS how best to capture information that would help Britain re-evaluate its priorities.

Since then government policies have tried to focus on wellbeing as a desirable outcome, said O'Donnell. He cited how improving the mental health of the long-term unemployed could help them find work; how protecting parks and green spaces raised people's wellbeing; and how reducing pressure on families would help increase children's happiness.

In 2007 Unicef placed UK at the bottom of a league table looking at subjective indicators of children's wellbeing, resulting in a big push by the government to improve the happiness of the young. Although the country's standing improved by 2010 it remained below those of other wealthy nations.

The ONS regularly produces measures of income inequality but said it had only just begun "to look at inequality between generations though its developmental work on the generational accounting approach to public finances in the UK".

Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick, said recent research from Californian academics had confirmed that when people found out they were being paid "below average" for their work, they "instantly registered a lower job satisfaction and look for jobs elsewhere. There's nothing intrinsically left or rightwing about wellbeing. But it is important for the government to measure it," said Oswald.

Atlantis Lands Into The History Books

Atlantis

Blink and you would have missed it. Atlantis swept in silently and under the cover of darkness – ushering the shuttle programme into the history books.

Nasa had resisted calls to delay the landing until daylight had arrived on Florida's 'space coast'.

Instead the sonic booms announced its imminent arrival at the Kennedy Space Centre.

A crowd of some 2000 family members, friends and employees, bussed out to the side of the runway, cheered and applauded as Atlantis flashed past.

When the wheels stopped, the space community and America in general began to reflect on the successes of the shuttle and where the country's space programme goes now.

Atlantis will take its place in a museum at the Kennedy Space Centre.

Its commander Chris Ferguson said: "I want that picture of a young 6-year-old boy looking up at a space shuttle in a museum and say, 'daddy I want to do something like that when I grow up' or 'I want our country to do fantastic things like this for the continued future' and if we set those steps right now and they continue with the next generation of space explorers than I consider our job here complete."

BAE Systems Criticised By UK MPs

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The British arms and aircraft firm BAE Systems has been severely criticised by a UK parliamentary inquiry into a corruption case surrounding an air-traffic-control deal with Tanzania.

MPs accused BAE of unilaterally setting up a compensation arrangement for Tanzania that was a "complete sham".

BAE admitted to not keeping full accounting records of £8m ($12m) it paid to an agent who brokered the deal.

After a plea bargain, it was not found guilty of any wider corruption charges.

The controversy relates to the supply in 1999 of an air-traffic radar control system.

But it could also be a test case for campaigners who say bribery and corruption are a brake on economic development.

In a plea bargain with the prosecuting authorities, the Serious Fraud Office, BAE agreed to pay £30m to the Tanzanian people.

The £30m was effectively a compensation payment to Tanzania – because of the revelation of the embarrassing £8m payment and allegations that the military-style air-traffic system was unnecessarily complex and expensive.

BAE and the Serious Fraud Office said they could not say if the £8m was used for bribery to seal the radar sale.

A top BAE lawyer, Philip Bramwell, said the company sincerely apologised for events of the past – and he agreed it would not make payments similar to the £8m now.

'Naive'

MPs on the watchdog International Development Committee dismissed some of the company's positions as "waffle" and "dissembling".

They repeated a judge's comments that it was "naive in the extreme" to think the £8m was used legitimately and that there was "a high probability" that the sum had been used in the negotiating process to "favour" the BAE bid to supply the radar.

The MPs also asked BAE executives why none of the £30m had yet been paid.

They questioned the right of the company to set up its own advisory board to decide on how the money should be spent – rather than give the money directly to the government of Tanzania, as a group of Tanzanian MPs had requested.

Committee chairman Malcolm Bruce MP asked whether it was not "offensive" for the company to suggest it knew better how to spend the money than the government of Tanzania.

With the Tanzanian government, British aid ministry the Department for International Development has drawn up a plan to spend the money on the Tanzanian education system – for desks, text books and teachers' accommodation.

Mr Bruce advised BAE to hand the money over to this project "as soon as possible".

The director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, who also appeared before the committee, said he was surprised the money had not yet been disbursed as promised by BAE.

He undertook to write to the company to ask why not – and said there would be "consequences" if there were further delays.

Recently, Tanzania delegation visited London in pursuit of payment decreed by UK fraud office from BAE over radar equipment sale. The country had earmarked the money to improve education.

Android Dominating iPhone In UK Smartphone Market

Android_iphone

New figures suggest that Google’s Android is trouncing Apple’s iPhone in the UK smartphone market, with almost half of Britain’s smartphones now running it.

The figures, from consumer research outfit Kantar Worldpanel, show what everybody suspected – that Android has gained a massive amount of market share in the past 12 months.

According to Kantar’s research, Android has surged from 10.7% of UK smartphones in June 2010 to a dominant 45.2% in June 2011, thanks to the popularity of phones from the likes of HTC and Samsung.

In that same time, the iPhone’s market share slumped to 18.3%, from 30.6% the previous year. That’s not because fewer people were buying the iPhone, though – it was still the single best-selling handset of the past 12 months – but simply because there are many more smartphone users now, and the majority of them are opting for Android. 74.3% of Android’s sales came from people buying their first smartphone, compared to just 1.4% who had switched from Apple.

The other good news – for both Google and Apple – is that once once someone makes their choice of platform, so far they tend to stick with it, largely because of the investment they’ve already made in apps.

Kantar’s Dominic Sunnebo said: ‘We are yet to see any real signs of consumers switching between Android and Apple.  Our data shows that Apple and Android’s customers are intensely loyal when choosing their upgrade.’

Elsewhere, BlackBerry’s popularity with younger consumers – notably for the BBM messaging software – saw it mount something of a resurgence, overtaking Apple with 22.9% of the market.

Nokia’s soon-to-be-dead Symbian, however, crashed badly – with a paucity of new phones and poor reviews, even before Nokia abandoned its ‘burning platform’ in February, seeing it collapse from 32.7% in 2010 to just 10.7% in 2011.

Tom Pellereau Wins The Apprentice UK 2011

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The bespectacled inventor received the prize of a partnership with Lord Sugar and £250,000 of investment, edging 30-year-old CEO assistant Helen Milligan into second place.

Pellereau’s business plan, which involved selling office furniture that prevents back pain, was enough to earn him the crown, with fellow finalists Susan Ma and Jim Eastwood taking third and fourth place.

Tom, dubbed 'nice guy' by fellow contestants, was a controversial choice, having been on the losing team eight times during the tasks and amid reports that all his businesses are failing.

The 31-year-old previously invented a curved nail file which he sold to worldwide retailers, and with Lord Sugar’s help will now be looking to market a whole range of new inventions.

The other finalists' plans for the investment money included an ‘e-learning service’ for schools from Jim, Susie’s plans to further her skincare company and Helen’s idea for a national concierge service.

Pellereau narrowly avoided being fired when brought back to the boardroom on three separate occasions previously and has faced the chop more than any of the other finalists.

Loser Helen Milligan maintained an unbeaten record on the show meanwhile, before finally being defeated in week ten’s reinvestment task.