Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs; Google revenue up on ad sales; England & Wales crime lowest in 33 years; Rising voice of Hong Kong

1 Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs (San Francisco Chronicle) Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its 39-year history Thursday, outlining plans to cut 18,000 jobs in a move that marked the CEO’s sharpest pivot yet away from his predecessor’s drive for the company to make its own devices. Although some cuts had been expected ever since Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile-device unit, the number amounted to 14 percent of the Microsoft workforce — about twice what analysts had estimated.

The cuts will include some 12,500 jobs associated with the Nokia unit — nearly half of the 28,000 employees Microsoft brought on board in April through the acquisition. When the cuts are complete, the company will still have about 10,000 more employees than before the Nokia acquisition, with an overall headcount of 109,000.

In a public email to employees, CEO Satya Nadella said the changes were needed for the company to “become more agile and move faster.” Nadella is clearly backing away from former CEO Steve Ballmer’s strategy of getting Microsoft to make its own smartphones and tablets.

The move dwarfs Microsoft’s previous biggest job cut, when it eliminated about 5,800 jobs in 2009. That was the company’s first widespread layoff. Microsoft has been shifting its focus from traditional PC software to cloud computing and cloud-based products like its Office 365 productivity software that can operate on mobile devices.

With its $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia’s cellphone business, Microsoft had sought to meld its software and hardware business into a cohesive package, similar to rival Apple. But investors had lingering doubts about the strategy, especially because the two brands’ market share in smartphones and tablets was so far behind Apple and Samsung. According to the latest financials, the Surface and Nokia device units are both losing money.

2 Google revenue up on ad sales (BBC) Internet giant Google has reported a 22% jump in revenue during the second quarter period from March through June compared to a year earlier. Revenue rose to $16bn and profits were up 6% to $3.4bn, said the firm in its earnings report. Strong demand for Google’s advertising helped boost revenues above expectations.

Google also announced chief business officer Nikesh Arora was leaving for SoftBank. Mr Arora, who has been with Google for 10 years, will be temporarily replaced by Omid Kordestani, who who was Google’s business founder and formerly led Google’s sales team.

3 England & Wales crime lowest in 33 years (Alan Travis in The Guardian) A record 14% fall in the last 12 months has taken crime levels in England and Wales to their lowest level for 33 years, according to the Office for National Statistics. Crime has fallen across most types of offences, according to the authoritative crime survey of England and Wales with the largest falls in the 12 months to March including a 20% drop in violent crime, a 17% fall in criminal damage and a 10% fall in theft.

The figures also show that the number of police officers has fallen by a further 1,674 over the past year to 127,909, bringing the total cut in police numbers to 15,825 since 2010. Ministers linked the fall in police numbers to the fall in crime, saying that fewer officers were needed on the street.

The crime survey of England and Wales, which is based on interviews with 10,000 people about their experience of crime, estimates there were 7.3m crime incidents involving households and adults over 16 in England and Wales in the year to March 2014. ONS said this was 62% below the level in 1995, when crime peaked in England and Wales.

4 Rising voice of Hong Kong (Khaleej Times) East Asia’s reigning metropolis of billionaires, a city which served as a lodestone for entrepreneurs whose ambitions endowed it with a remarkable skyline a generation before Shanghai’s overtopped it, has become a source of much worry for Beijing’s mandarins.

The reason is to be found in the shorthand of ‘7.1’ by which is meant the 1st of July. On that day was organised one of the biggest protests in East Asia of the past decade. The great outpouring of Hongkongers — media sources in the city estimate some 500,000 came into the streets — in a demonstration against the government of the Chinese Communist Party is the most strident signal yet of the deepening political crisis in Hong Kong.

The provocation for the waves of protest that have shut Hong Kong down several times in recent is the reneging by the Party on what Hongkongers say is its promise, extracted after years of negotiation, to allow Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to be chosen through elections. Hong Kong’s citizens want an election. Beijing’s government, however, insists on a nomination committee (which a broad front of citizens’ groups and pro-democracy coalitions in Hong Kong say will enable it to screen out candidates).

What happens now? For an avowedly global city that turned the curious phrase ‘one country, two systems’ into a case for business as usual, the near future looks decidedly tense. Reportage from Hong Kong suggests that feelings are running very high, reminiscent of 2003 when 500,000 people marched in opposition to the Chinese government’s attempt to push through a tough anti-subversion law.

At issue for the Party is how much can be tolerated in the name of economic expediency, for an even partly-successful season of protest could reverberate through China, and especially in regions in cities that have expressed their displeasure with central rule publicly. There may be only so much of ‘two systems’ that Beijing will tolerate.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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