Kaz Hirai has been at the head of the Sony ship for quite some time now, and has led the charge of turning around the company. His idea of a
revival plan coupled with several purchases that were key to Sony's future success made everything appear like Hirai would be able to right the ship. However, after numbers were still in the red and Sony's board rejected the proposal to spin off its media division, Sony has taken to drastic measures to save the company. The solution? Slashing the budget for the media division.
While the consumer electronics side of Sony has leveled off over the past year, movies like
Smurfs 2 has seen Sony's media division plummet, and the numbers show in the box office. The board of directors must be confused as they have first decided to maintain the branch within Sony yet are now rumored to be cutting the budget by over $250 million after outspoken and prolific investors have made their concerns known. So the fix is that we'll see Sony take a "significant shift" from making terrible movies and will start putting more eggs into the television business.
Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal has said that "we are reducing the number of films we make." For consumers, that means a reduction of five movies released each year, down to 18 total that we'll see in theaters beginning in 2015. We'll also see the company reduce its summer blockbusters, if they can be called that, from nine to four, beginning next summer.
So what all is included in a $250 million budget cut? According to Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton it's "overhead and procurement" items being slashed from the expenditures.
We are in discussions with experts to help identify more efficient ways to do business in the future.
However, according to other sources close to the matter, it could be that Sony will be auctioning off some of its properties on the movie-side of things, specifically, Marvel brands. It's definitely beneficial to both Sony and Disney if Sony wants lots of money for things like Spider-Man, and Disney has the blank check ready to make all of it happen. And, if that rumor comes to fruition, we'd finally get the
Civil War that we all know and need in our lives.
In hindsight, it seems that selling off the media division to Daniel Loeb's Third Point Hedge Fund, the leading shareholder of Sony, would've been the best option. Second best option would be to make better movies, because when films featuring Channing Tatum don't sell well, it's apparent that there's some serious problems in other places. So what'll happen in real life? We're not really sure but I'm sure we'll have an answer on an impromptu conference call that's supposed to take place next week. We'll be here to report any news coming our way.
All of Sony's problems with the PlayStation 4 that
I reported on last week might stem from one place: Foxconn. It would appear that the Chinese university students who were interning at the production facility and being subjected to extremely rough working conditions have fired back at the company. It's being rumored that these kids were responsible for hardware sabotage at Foxconn, including the PS4s and other high-end tech products.
A forum thread showed up with a person saying he was one of the students. The post has since been deleted but read,
Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well. The ps4 console we assemble can be turned on at best.
Judging from the problems we are seeing so far, that appears to be par for the course for some of the PS4s in the wild. 4Chan users have obviously been discussing these failures in the hardware since even before launch of the console, and have been heavily discussing the alleged sabotage as well.
A chinese guy posted on here like 2 weeks ago in really fractured english or translation, I can't remember and even had an image. He mentioned "PheonixStation 4" and that they have put a trace amount of lead in a good majority of the thermal paste used in the PS4 batches. He said this will mean heat won't dissapate quick enough for standby mode when the fans are programmed to a low RPM, and this will degrade the life of the CPU/GPU dramatically and also raise temps during operating by a few degrees more than normal.
Of course, you have to take everything on 4Chan with a grain of salt, however, someone later in the thread followed up by verifying the contents of the images posted.
...indeed there was a diagram with a clear mention of lead + thermal grease, which is obviously a bad (expletive) thing. Ideally, a genius thing, as the problem won't arise in QA shotgun tests of consoles as they're built, as the individual systems would need to be tested for more than an hour to really notice a difference in temps.
And, if you wanted proof in the pudding, a review by YouTuber Rick the Electronic Guy showed that the thermal paste was in pretty bad shape.
All right guys, to be frank, I was very disappointed with the thermal paste. The thermal paste was already a little hard and that's not good. That just means we're going to have problems right off the bat. So I'm actually very happy that I took mine apart...I knew Sony was going to go cheap on the thermal paste it was already hard on the inside, now there (sic) already having gpu issues on day one.
Other sources have also reported that students have sabotaged iPads, Macbooks and other Apple products as well, but those threads have since been deleted. All of this does seem to coincide with the many issues the PS4 is having already, and, the user has since updated the situation with a second thread on the matter that hasn't been deleted. You can check that out in the source link below. What do you think of all this? Can this be the thing that changes the economic future for China, now that so many problems with Foxconn have come down to true sabotage in American-purchased products? Sound off in the comments section below.
Last week, an interesting thing happened in the Linux community. Canonical, the owners of Ubuntu and one of the leaders of the open data movement,
threatened a critical website over trademark issues. Something they either didn't expect or didn't research was that the website, Fix Ubuntu, is owned an operated by Micah Lee from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
While the EFF has taken some cases that have been
questionable, their involvement in this case has been a positive. They contacted Canonical and we have received an interesting response from Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical.
In a blog post on his website, Shuttleworth said,
Last week, someone at Canonical made a mistake in sending the wrong response to a trademark issue out of the range of responses we usually take. That has been addressed, and steps are being taken to reduce the likelihood of a future repeat...
We do have to "enforce" those trademarks, or we lose them. That means:
we have an email address, email@example.com, where people can request permission to use the name and logo we actively monitor, mostly using standard services, use of the name and logo we aim to ensure that every use of the name and logo is supported by a "license" or grant of permission
The only problem here is that, of course, you don't HAVE to enforce all issues. For example, a website being critical of a corporation falls under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, and through fair use has the ability to use said corporation's name and logo. This issue has been tried and settled in court many times, leaving Canonical with no real recourse.
The excuse given by Shuttleworth was that of a company whose Twitter was mixed up for a personal one. He said in the same blog post,
In order to make the amount of correspondence manageable, we have a range of standard templates for correspondence. They range from the "we see you, what you are doing is fine, here is a license to use the name and logo which you need to have, no need for further correspondence," through "please make sure you state you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the company or the product," to the "please do not use the logo without permission, which we are not granting unless you actually certify those machines," and "please do not use Ubuntu in that domain to pretend you are part of the project when you are not."
Last week, the less-than-a-month-at-Canonical new guy sent out the toughest template letter to the folks behind a "sucks" site. Now, that was not a decision based on policy or guidance; as I said, Canonical's trademark policy is unusually generous relative to corporate norms in explicitly allowing for this sort of usage. It was a mistake, and there is no question that the various people in the line of responsibility know and agree that it was a mistake. It was no different, however, than a bug in a line of code, which I think most developers would agree happens to the best of us. It just happened to be, in that analogy, a zero-day remote root bug.
So, the new guy did it, not we're mad that someone is criticizing our business model. It will be interesting to see what the EFF has to say about Shuttleworth's response.
There has been an interesting trend lately within the enterprise to have concern over cloud solutions. It can certainly be understood, as we see services such as
Adobe, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Blizzard all having data breeches recently. Of course, there is also the infamous PlayStation issue.
That fear has seemingly spread to the government, as the Department of Defense has recently canceled their request for proposal on a $450 million cloud contract. The contract, had it gone through, would have given 10 cloud companies contracts to provide database, storage, virtual server and Web hosting services. As it turns out, the DoD and the military aren't exactly interested in cloud services.
In general, the government has been minimizing the number of websites it maintains. Part of the move is probably in reaction to the disaster that has been
healthcare.gov. The other issue at hand is, of course, security-related. In the wake of the Snowden leaks, the government has been trying to reduce the number of contractors with access to data.
The adjusted request,
detailed in a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website, suggests that the proposal may be canceled entirely, or severely limited on the number of contracts it will be looking for.