Archive for December, 2012

Walmart slashes price on iPhone 5

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

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Walmart has slashed the price on Apple’s newest iPhone, which some observers call a curious move so soon after the phone’s recent launch.

The retailer cut the price of the 16 GB iPhone 5  to $127 from $189 for a 33 percent discount. Purchasers must agree to a two-year contract with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint. The 16 GB iPhone 4S was reduced to $47 from $89.97 with a contract.

The offers are only available in stores, and not online. Other retailers are offering the iPhone at $50 discounts.

The competition to get smartphones, tablets and other digital devices into the hands of holiday shoppers is at a fever pitch among manufacturers, retailers and wireless carriers in the biggest shopping season of the year. AT&T has knocked $100 off all its tablets, including the iPad and new iPad Mini, until the end of the year with a two-year contract. The promotion, however, isn’t extended to smartphones.

The deep …

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Turner Broadcasting ranked a top place to work — by its employees

Turner Broadcasting has been ranked as one of the 50 best places to work.

Says who?

Says company  employees.

In Glassdoor.com’s  fifth annual Employees’ Choice Awards, the media company came in 48th.

Positive comments from workers: “Great company to work for. Flexible culture, always promoting innovation and collaboration. Benefits are great and schedule is pretty flexible. Paid Time Off increases as years go by and you get a good amount of days off. Great training programs and perks.”

Negatives: “It’s a little bit hard to move around. The recruitment department is not very effective and the internal opportunities site is not clear enough on salary and hiring manager information so it makes it difficult to decide if a position is good for you or not. You can grow, if you make connections, otherwise you are set to stay in the same place for a long time.”

Topping the overall list: Facebook. The comment: “The company’s leadership truly believes in Facebook’s mission to make the …

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Apple loses patent lawsuit involving iPhone

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(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Apple, which is knee deep in patent infringement lawsuits, lost one Thursday involving its popular iPhone technology.

MobileMedia Ideas, a company that holds more than 300 technology patents and is jointly owned by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, convinced a federal jury in Delaware that three of its patents – one dealing with camera phone technology and two dealing with call handling – were violated by Apple. Damages were not immediately determined.

According to AppleInsider.com, Mobilemedia’s patents cover a range of components in such devices as smartphones, personal computers, laptops and tablets.

A MobileMedia spokesman told media outlets the company was pleased with the outcome although it originally accused Apple of stealing 14 of its patents in 2010, the year MobileMedia was formed. It has similar suits against HTC Corp. and Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry.

As Wired.com points out, Apple faces a …

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Study: Bad hires are a lousy lot

(Associated Press)

(Hysob Shin, hshin@ajc.com)

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Ever had to suffer the consequences of a bad hire?

A new study by CareerBuilder.com finds that 69 percent of employers say bad hires lower productivity, affect worker morale and even result in legal issues.

Bad hires are also costly: 41 percent of companies estimate such hires cost them more than $25,000 individually, and a quarter put the cost at more than $50,000.

So, why make such a hire, you might ask? CareerBuilder found 38 percent of employers said they needed to fill the job quickly, 21 percent simply didn’t know enough about the employee before hiring him or her and 11 percent didn’t check references.

“The more thoroughly the candidates are vetted, the less likely they will be a poor match,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. (Was that a collective “Duh!” we just heard?).

In addition to the impact on productivity and employee morale, bad hires also can …

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Business leaders optimistic, but stressed

Business owners and top executives have to be an optimistic lot, if only to keep things going in uncertain times.

That may account for how they see the near future.

According to a survey of 435 owners or managers of businesses with 10 or more employees, 49 percent expect general business conditions to be a little or a lot better six months from now. Only 27 percent think it will be slightly or much worse.

The survey, from cloud and communications services provider Cbeyond, found that the business leaders view taxes as the biggest immediate threat to their success, with 51 percent citing taxes. Government regulations are next at 41 percent, then labor costs at 34 percent and the federal deficit at 32 percent.

Despite their optimism, business leaders are feeling anxious. Some 58 percent said their stress level is on the rise (compared to the period prior to the November elections), and 30 percent said it’s much higher.

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Across the board, union workers get higher pay

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

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You’re sure to strike a nerve in many circles if you bring up the topic of unions and, in this case, union wages.

Unions have been receiving a lot of attention lately. Just this week Michigan’s governor signed right-to-work legislation that makes it illegal for unions to compel non-union employees in the private and public sectors, with some exceptions, to pay dues. (Georgia is also a right-to-work state). AT&T continues to negotiate new agreements with some of its unionized employees, although its 22,000 wireline workers in Georgia and other parts of the Southeast recently ratified new three-year contract.

CNN Money, relying on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, has looked into how the average pay of the top unions in this country stacks up against non-union workers’ wages. The bottom line is that across the board union wages are higher. Here are some of CNN’s highlights:

Government workers: “These workers …

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Small business owners fret over cliff, want lower tax rates

Small business owners are really fretting about the outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations.

In a survey from Sage North America, 70 percent said they’re concerned how negotiations between the White House and Congress over the package of tax increases and spending cuts will turn out.

“The uncertainty related to the fiscal cliff has the potential of impeding economic growth, particularly among small businesses … ” said Sage executive Connie Certusi. “The lingering uncertainty around tax rates could continue to have a chilling effect on the economy and small businesses alike. Small business owners are resilient, but uncertainty is the enemy of growth. Consequently, small business owners are counting on swift resolution to the fiscal cliff.”

When small business owners were asked about their support for ending the Bush-era tax cuts for couples making over $250,000, 58 percent said they would like lower tax rates while limiting deductions.

When asked how their businesses have …

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Don’t hold your breath for lower fares in Delta-Virgin Atlantic deal

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If you think you’ll see a big drop in airfares to London and the rest of Europe from the big deal announced Tuesday between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways, think again.

Consumer expert Clark Howard says the opposite is more likely: Fares will be higher.

“What’s going on right now with travel from the U.S. to Europe is everthing is being locked up into three cartels, and the result is that airfares to Europe have gone up quite a bit,” Howard told WSB radio after Delta announced it was acquiring a 49 percent stake in London-based Virgin. “This just accelerates that [with] definitely higher fares.”

Howard said the $360 million deal allows Atlanta-based Delta, the largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, to compete more successfully in “the world’s most important international business market, which is London.”

The addition of Virgin to Delta’s alliance with European carriers Air France and KLM will make …

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Atlanta employers expect to hire more in early 2013

Fiscal cliff threat notwithstanding, metro Atlanta businesses are inclined to boost their payrolls come the new year.

According to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, 16 percent of employers here plan to add workers in the first quarter of 2013, while only 8 percent expect to trim staffing levels. Another 71 percent anticipate holding the line on employment numbers.

The resulting “net employment outlook” of 8 percent is considerably better than what was expected for the current three-month period in which 13 percent of employers looked to add staff and 9 percent projected cutting back.

“Hiring activity is expected to increase during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the fourth quarter of 2012 … ” said Beth Herman, Manpower spokesperson.

However, she noted, “Employers expect weaker employment prospects compared with one year ago …”

In the first quarter of 2012, 18 percent of employers surveyed said they anticipated adding to their payrolls, and only 6 percent …

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Emory Healthcare CEO: ‘We create more problems by hiding things’

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Many businesses claim to deliver quality service. But few face the life-and-death stakes that hospitals do.

Emory Healthcare CEO John Fox was dissatisfied with his health system’s “middle-of-the-pack” performance in national quality surveys in 2005 and 2006. He knew the system could do better, and patients would benefit if it did. So Fox, 60, mobilized the troops to do something about it.

John Fox

John Fox

The results came in earlier this year. Emory placed its two teaching hospitals — Emory University Hospital and Emory Midtown — in the top 10 among the 101 national systems evaluated by the University HealthSystem Consortium. No system had previously placed two hospitals that high in the same year.

Fox, a former health care consultant, has been CEO of Emory Healthcare — $2.4 billion in net revenue and 16,000 employees — for a decade. He talks about the long road to improving quality and how to react to a fatal mistake.

Q: Would you please …

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