Sony Sinks Deeper
Today in international tech news: Sony is awash in red ink, Iran says bye-bye to the Internet, Marketplace spends a week at Foxconn, and more.
A day after news emerged that it would cut 10,000 jobs, or roughly 6 percent of its global workforce, Sony on Tuesday forecast a net loss of US$6.4 billion for the business year that just ended -- the largest loss in company history.
has been hammered by weak demand for its televisions and been overtaken by more innovative gadget rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics.
Kazuo Hirai, who took over as CEO this month, has said he is prepared to take "painful steps" to revive the company and would not hesitate to scale back or withdraw from businesses if they were not competitive.
Sony's losses were exacerbated by writing off billions in deferred tax credits in the U.S. Previously, the tax credits had been counted as earnings.
Iran to Cut Off Internet Access
Iran will reportedly pull the plug on the Internet -- like, the entire Internet -- in the coming months.
The International Business Times was among those reporting Tuesday that Iran planned to establish a national intranet within five months.
In a statement released Thursday, Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, announced the setting up of a national Intranet and the effective blockage of services like Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo and Hotmail, in line with Iran's plan for a "clean Internet."
The government is set to roll out the first phase of the project in May, following which Google, Hotmail and Yahoo services will be blocked and replaced with government Intranet services like Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine. At this stage, however, the World Wide Web, apart from the aforementioned sites, will still be accessible.
Iran denies that it will ban access to the World Wide Web.
Iran's government has already started implementing a registration procedure for access to the intranet service Iran Mail, according to the Times. Registration requires a national ID, address and full name. Only after such information is forked over -- and verified against government data -- can an application become registered.
Marketplace Goes Inside Foxconn
Marketplace, a radio show from American Public Media, is running a week-long series looking at the Foxconn manufacturing plants in China.
The series began Monday. Here is a snippet from Marketplace's Rob Schmitz:
Well I've been to other factories before, and you see usually at factories a lot of machines and workers here and there. But in this factory, on the iPad assembly line, what first hits you is just the sheer amount of people. You see line after line of hundreds of workers, and you get this relation that this is a real manual labor process for what is a machine that's very sleek and looks like a machine actually made it. But in fact, every single part of that is being put together by a person.
Foxconn, which manufactures iPads, iPhones and other devices, has received oodles of attention lately. In January, The New York Times ran an article chronicling the company's working conditions.
Foxconn was back in the news after a March report from the Fair Labor Association highlighted problems with working conditions. The report prompted Foxconn and Apple to promise to improve working conditions.
Intel's China Chairman Chat
Sean Maloney, Intel's new China chairman, fielded questions from Chinese citizens via the country's micro-blogging platform Weibo.
According to the website Tech In Aisa, Maloney discussed how Intel is
focusing on the "incredible" growth in China, and how it's developing mobile-oriented and lower-powered processors to power Android and Windows 8 mobile devices. Sean emphasized: "Our strategy in China now is to win with smartphones and tablets."
The chat precedes Intel's annual development forum, which will be held in Beijing later this week.
Political Tiff in UK Over Online Monitoring
British prime minister David Cameron, a member of the Conservative party, shot back at Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg after Clegg's party voiced concerns about the government's plans to monitor online activity.
According to the Guardian, Cameron took issue with the Liberal Democrats' complaints, saying that members of the party had sat on committees responsible for approving the surveillance plans.