Business

Business
8:52 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Gaming Studio Bethesda Issues an Austin Battlecry

“Dishonored,” pictured above, is one of Bethesda’s newest titles.
Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks has announced plans to open a second gaming development studio in Austin – Battlecry Studios.

Battlecry will be headed up by long-time producer Rich Vogel, who best known for his work with gaming developer BioWare. Vogel left Bioware in July during BioWare’s second round of layoffs at the company.

During Vogel’s tenure at BioWare he worked on hits like “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” “Ultima Online”and “Star Wars Galaxies,” but it is unclear what he will be working on first with Battlecry.

President of Bethesda  Softworks Vlatko Andonov said in a statement that he is looking “forward to working with [Vogel] on a new exciting project.”

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Business
8:28 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Women Erased From IKEA's Saudi Catalog; Company Apologizes

She's gone: One example of how women disappeared from IKEA's catalog. In the U.S. version, she's standing at a sink. In the Saudi version, she's missing.
IKEA

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 7:54 am

Click through Swedish furniture giant IKEA's U.S. (online here) and Saudi (online here) catalogs.

You'll find all the same stuff.

But you won't find women in the Saudi catalog.

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Business
1:05 pm
Sat September 29, 2012

What's Behind Dell's Shopping Spree

Dell is primarily known for manufacturing desktop and laptop computers, but recent acquisitions are diversifying its services.
flickr.com/dellphotos

In an widely-circulated blog post titled "Hardware is Dead," investment banker Jay Goldberg shocked the tech world by describing what he discovered in a tiny stall inside a Chinese electronics market. In a room full of vendors hawking computers and parts, Goldberg found an Android tablet computer – essentially a non-Apple iPad – for only $45.

Speaking with KUT News, Goldberg says he was surprised by the device's high quality and low price. "I would consider it a device that anyone in the U.S. would be comfortable using," he says. "It was a seven-inch device. It ran the latest version of Android. It was WiFi only, it had a nice screen, and a very snappy processor, so it responded to your commands, quickly."

That’s what Dell is up against, trying to make money, in a ruthlessly competitive global market, by manufacturing desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and servers. Dell's stock price shows its struggle, dropping from more than $40 per share in 2005 to around $10.

At Dell headquarters, spokesman Jess Blackburn says the nature of Dell’s business has changed, and the company is undergoing a transformation.  "Our strategy, which we have been particularly focused on, is taking Dell from more of a hardware company to a full service, comprehensive solutions provider."

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Business
11:06 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Apple Is 'Extremely Sorry' For Its Much-Maligned Maps, CEO Tim Cook Says

Will it take you where you want to go? A new iPhone 5 and Apple's new mapping software.
Beck Diefenbach Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 9:46 am

How much of a "public relations disaster" has Apple's new mapping software been?

Big enough that the famously proud company has apologized — and suggested that users can turn to arch rival Google Maps instead.

In a message "to our customers" posted this morning, CEO Tim Cook says:

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Business
8:21 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Study: Women Workers Are Still Shortchanged

Women workers in Austin earn a some $7,500 less annually than their male counterparts, according to a new study.
Flickr user Victor1558, bit.ly/ReAJxO

An examination of the latest Census data shows a gender-based wage gap is affecting a majority of women around the United States.

The analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families is the first ever analysis of data separated by U.S. congressional districts.

The study shows that in 97 percent of the nation’s congressional districts, the median pay for women is less than the median pay for men by 23 cents. Women of color seem to experience an even greater disparity: African American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, Non-Hispanic men.

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Business
1:19 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

More Than 5 Million New iPhones Sold in Debut Weekend

Hazem Sayed exits the Apple store on Fifth Avenue after purchasing his new iPhone 5.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 2:50 pm

Apple sold more than 5 million iPhones this weekend, the company said in a press release. That surpasses the initial sales of the previous version.

As Bloomberg news reports, demand for the new phone quickly exceeded the initial supply, but some analysts expected bigger sales.

They report:

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Business
1:25 pm
Sat September 22, 2012

Is Austin’s Apple Maps Experience an Epic Fail?

KUT News eyes two errors in this Apple map of downtown Austin. But despite some hiccups, Austin errors aren't as ubiquitous as they are in several other cities.
twitter.com/rdmurphy

Computing giant Apple has released the newest iteration of its mind-bogglingly popular iPhone. But Apple continues to grab headlines for a less-PR friendly reason: reaction to its new maps program, which replaces Google Maps on the iPhone 5 and in Apple’s latest operating system update.

A complete failure.” “Epic fail.” “Things can only get better.”

Criticism is pouring in on several fronts. While Apple’s maps are lauded for their graphic beauty, including a breathtaking 3D “Flyover” feature, the app is being criticized for receiving a rollout before being fully cooked. Its satellite graphics appear bubbly and distorted in several instances. Directions and details have been ubiquitously downgraded in some areas. And a big dealbreaker for iPhone users in many major cities is Maps’ lack of built-in public transit schedules and directions, which Google Maps has.

But so far, Austin seems to have been spared the worst of the brunt.

Austin’s Apple Maps experience seems to be relatively smooth compared to those in other cities. For starters, it’s rendered in 3D, while many other cities aren’t. Chris Carter, an Austin-based Apple independent developer, says "the 3D technology that they're using actually generates the 3D models from multiple angles of satellite images."

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Business
5:38 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Coke Workers in Fort Worth Can Union Bid

Had a unionization vote passed in Fort Worth, it would have been the Coca-Cola's company's first union shop in the South.
flickr.com/huffstutterrobertl

Yesterday, Coca-Cola workers in Fort Worth rejected an offer to unionize at their bottling plant.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the vote, which failed 215 to 191, would have made the bottling plant the first corporately-owned Coke plant in the south to unionize.

In that respect, the fact that the vote failed may be less surprising than the fact it made it that far in the first place. (The Star-Telegram notes that the vote represented the second attempt to join the Teamsters in as many years.)

As a “right to work” state, Texas has a low amount of union activity. And like most states around the country, the strongest unionization occurs in the public sector – making the scene in Fort Worth all the more surprising.

“I always tell people we don’t have unions in the Unites States,” says Dan Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin. “And in the private sector nationwide, we don’t. Eight percent are unionized nationwide. In Texas it’s way below that … but my guess is four percent in the private sector here in Texas. So it’s a very non-union state.”

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Business
4:52 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Are American Airlines Pilots Staging a 'Sickout?'

American jets at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The Dallas=based company has canceled hundreds of flights this week.
flickr.com/matt_hintsa

American Airlines has one canceled arrival at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this evening. While that may not sound like much – at least not to anyone booked on that flight – it may be symptomatic of a broader problem for Dallas-based American Airlines.

Against the backdrop of a labor struggle, American has seen some 300 flights canceled this week, as according to reports, pilots are calling in sick.

According to CBS News,

American has seen an increase in flight cancelations since early this month, when a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the company to impose new pay and work rules on pilots. The pilots had rejected the company's last contract offer in August.

Those new work rules increase the amount of flying hours on pilots, and allow American to operate more flights through partner airlines instead of American flight crews, according to CNNMoney.

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Business
2:08 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Austin's Seoul Connection: Javelin Lands Samsung Contract

Samsung selected a small Austin semiconductor company to manufacture a power amplifier for its new Galaxy S Duos.
Samsung

A small Austin-based technology company, Javelin Semiconductor, has landed its largest contract to date – thanks to a burgeoning relationship between Central Texas and South Korea.

Javelin Semiconductor was picked to produce a power amplifier for Samsung’s new Galaxy S Duos. Robert Wagner, a spokesperson for Javelin, partially credits the company’s continued partnership with Samsung to Austin’s connection to Seoul, South Korea.

“There’s a good relationship in general between Austin companies and Samsung in Korea. So we get some good recognition from the Korean side of Samsung, that we’re this Austin company and they’ve had good success with other local Austin companies like Silicon Labs.”

The Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Susan Davenport agrees. Davenport says that in addition to the success of local companies, the University of Texas has been influential in building Austin’s cluster of technology and talent – which companies like Samsung are now enjoying.  

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Economy
12:08 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Federal Reserve Announces New Round Of Economic Stimulus

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke arrives for a dinner at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Thursday.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 12:22 pm

Update at 12:31 p.m. ET. Federal Reserve Announces QE3:

The Federal Reserve announced it would spend $40 billion a month on bond purchases in an effort to stimulate the economy and drive the the unemployment rate down.

The Wall Street Journal says that unlike the first two rounds of Quantitative Easing, this time the Fed will focus solely on buying mortgage-backed securities.

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Business
12:34 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Apple Unveils New, Thinner, Lighter iPhone 5

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPhone 5 during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 3:02 pm

Moments ago in San Francisco, Apple's Phil Schiller unveiled the latest incarnation of the company's massively popular smartphone.

The iPhone 5, said Schiller, is "the most beautiful product we've ever made."

Of course, you want to know what's different about this model: Essentially it's thinner, lighter, faster and also has a bigger screen than the iPhone 4s.

The device also comes equipped to work with faster wireless networks like LTE, which AT&T, Sprint and Verizon carry.

The AP adds:

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Business
12:24 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

The iPhone 5 and the Economy: Don't Believe the Hype

Waiting to help the economy grow.
Kiichiro Sato AP

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 11:13 am

The iPhone 5 will give a nice boost to U.S. economic growth in the last three months of this year, according to a new note from JPMorgan.

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Business
4:35 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

What Will Apple's Patent Case Mean For Phone Design?

These Nokia phones unveiled earlier this month are the first smartphones built for Windows 8.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 5:52 pm

A lot of thought goes into giving your smartphone a distinctive look and feel, from the shape of the speaker — square, round or oval — to where to put the buttons — side, front or back.

But industrial designers like Robert Brunner say he doesn't have a lot of room to be creative.

"Because you're really being so heavily driven on maintaining a minimal physical size," he says. "So you really get into this very fine envelope of a few millimeters that you have to work with."

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Business
9:55 am
Fri September 7, 2012

General Motors Bringing Up to 500 Jobs to Austin

GM IT employees in Michigan. The company says Austin's talented employee pool is leading them to open a center here.
General Motors

An announcement on the General Motors website this morning says the auto maker is coming to Austin – creating an "Information Technology Innovation Center" that may ultimately employ up to 500 people. 

The company writes on its website:

Austin was chosen for an Innovation Center because the city already has people with the skills GM is seeking -  46,000, according to the May 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Report.

“We anticipate hiring as many as 500 new GM employees in Austin,”[GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott] said. “We look to the Innovation Centers to design and deliver IT that drives down the cost of ongoing operations while continuously increasing the level and speed at which innovative products and services are available to GM customers."

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