2009年5月31日 星期日

Once a Key to Recovery, Detroit Adds to the Pain

Once a Key to Recovery, Detroit Adds to the Pain

Published: May 31, 2009

With General Motors about to follow Chrysler into bankruptcy, the nation’s ability to bounce back from the steep recession is being hobbled.

Although housing and a credit freeze caused the current collapse, manufacturing has played an outsize role in past recoveries, with the auto industry contributing significantly to the growth. It was manufacturing that led the economy back from the last steep recession, in 1981-82. It did so by stepping up production and hiring more quickly than others in anticipation of rising demand.

Even now, in its diminished state — representing only 11.5 percent of America’s output, down from 20 percent in 1980 — manufacturing could have a bigger impact than its size suggests, because of its tendency to respond quickly.

“Back then, it supercharged the recovery,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, “and today it could have played a decisive role if G.M. and Chrysler had remained viable companies. Without their contribution, the economy simply can’t recover as quickly as it has in the past.”

Those two giants alone accounted for 10 percent of the upturn after the early 1980s recession, Mr. Zandi said, but this time they will be a drain on growth rather than a contributor to it.

In the early 1980s, once the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates, the nation’s manufacturers led the way in turning the economy from contraction to growth in less than four months. Economists described that recession, which lasted 16 months, as “V-shaped,” meaning a precipitous decline followed by an equally rapid return to growth once the recession had run its course.

That was a common characteristic of earlier recessions in the postwar years. After the 1980s, however, there were two declines, in 1990-91 and 2001, both shallow, as were the subsequent recoveries.

Now one leg of the V is back, suggesting a sharp rebound soon, if the recovery were to conform to past patterns. That seems unlikely, largely because of the drag from autos — not just the big assemblers, like G.M. and Chrysler, but also the thousands of small companies that supply them with parts.

“No other industry is stepping up to the plate to replace the Big Three and their suppliers as engines of growth,” said Nigel Gault, chief domestic economist for I.H.S. Global Insight, “and without the kick they once provided — resuming production and recalling workers faster than others — the recovery will be slow in coming and muted at best.”

Chrysler’s decision to shut down its factories and G.M.’s move to idle most of its locations this summer will inevitably have a domino effect on the nation’s 4,000 suppliers, most likely undoing the fledgling improvement that forecasters see in slightly stronger retail sales and consumer confidence.

The automakers’ problems are forcing some of the suppliers to close and others to cut more jobs, a process likely to accelerate unless other big assemblers like Ford, Honda and Toyota somehow pick up the slack.

Together, the suppliers employ many more people than the assemblers — Detroit’s Big Three and the foreign automakers operating here — and they are eliminating jobs at the same rapid pace, putting tens of thousands of people out of work each month.

The struggling suppliers are companies like Yarema Die and Engineering, in Troy, Mich., which in better times employed 110 people stamping out metal auto parts like fuel tank straps, roof supports and brackets. Most of its products went to Chrysler and G.M., and now with those operations cut way back, Yarema has suspended production, cutting its staff to just two people from 25 a month ago.

“Basically, we are in hibernation,” said Greg Boulard, director of manufacturing operations. “We are filling what orders there are from inventory, and we have laid off the entire staff.”

The damage already done by the auto industry is sobering. Of the 5.7 million jobs lost since this recession began 18 months ago, 1.6 million were in manufacturing, and 289,000 of those were in motor vehicles, split almost evenly between the assemblers and their supplier networks.

During the worst months of the recession, from September through March, these twins also accounted for nearly 20 percent of the decline in the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output.

And the damage continues, with G.M. preparing to enter bankruptcy, just as Chrysler exits to begin what may be a slow transformation as part of Fiat. Both American companies usually shut down or scale back production for one month in the summer, but they are stretching that to two months or more.

The production of cars and sport utility vehicles had stabilized in early spring at roughly 423,000 vehicles a month, down from nearly 600,000 late last year. Then with the government bailouts proceeding in earnest, auto assemblies plunged to just 371,000 in May, as Chrysler entered bankruptcy, halting production. Another drop is likely in June as G.M. cuts way back — one goal being to allow dealers to work down their inventories.

That means the worst is still ahead for the suppliers. They deliver parts to the assemblers on an as-needed basis and are normally paid 60 days after delivery. Short-term bank loans carry them until payment comes from the automakers. That system broke down in the credit crisis, but the federal government stepped in, supplying $8 billion to maintain the payments.

Now a new issue looms. With Chrysler shut down and G.M. preparing to cut back sharply, deliveries to those giant assemblers are grinding to a halt.

Once payment is made by early August for the most recently delivered parts, the flow of money to the suppliers will fall way off, forcing further layoffs across a network of parts companies that employ 450,000 people. The American and foreign-owned assemblers, by comparison, employ only 309,000 in the United States today.

“There will definitely have to be more government aid flowing to the suppliers to keep them afloat,” said Haig Stoddard, an automotive analyst in Detroit for I.H.S. Global Insight.

This new damage to the auto industry, particularly to the suppliers, is likely to show up first in the statistics as a surge in job losses in June. The monthly tally, covering every industry, had dipped to 539,000 in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, from more than 680,000 in February and again in March.

The May report, to be released on Friday, is likely to be close to the April number, but then is likely to jump as auto suppliers cut back their operations or go out of business.

“The exact timing is hard to say, but we’ll get the first signal from new claims for unemployment insurance,” Mr. Gault said, referring to a number issued weekly by the bureau. “They are likely to spike soon.”

Unless demand unexpectedly begins to rise and new-car sales perk up as consumers who had put off trading in their aging vehicles begin to do so. Then the foreign auto companies operating assembly plants here might lead the way in recalling workers, contributing to a recovery — a gradual one, to be sure, without the bang that G.M. and Chrysler once made possible.

2009年5月25日 星期一


德国经济 | 2009.05.25



德 国上世纪70年代的人均年啤酒消耗量曾达到150升,现在却降到了108升左右。啤酒厂受到经济危机的压力越来越大。但奥丁格啤酒公司却能置身于外。奥丁 格牌啤酒的销量不仅没有减少,而且还在持续增长。科尔马是这个家族公司的资产拥有人之一兼经理。他言简意赅地透露了该公司成功的秘诀:"其一,我们直接为 欧洲的食品零售商供货,并使用我们自己的运输工具,没有中间商。其二,我们尽量消除一切增加产品成本的因素。"

奥丁格啤酒商标Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: 奥丁格啤酒商标

比 如该公司不采用复杂的产品设计,不做昂贵的广告。40多年来,奥丁格公司一直遵循着薄利多销的原则,同时保持着产品的高质量。这是问题的关键所在。科尔马 坚信,如果质量下降,则产品就不再是"物美价廉"了,会被消费者当成廉价货,最后被市场抛弃。而奥丁格啤酒在正确的时间点上保持了产品的高质量,因而也占 领了重要的市场分额:"奥丁格啤酒过去及现在一直是符合性价比的品牌。奥丁格可以说是第一家敢于为像Kaufland、Rewe或者Edeka这样的连锁 超市提供产品的公司。而随着这些超市的迅猛发展,奥丁格也发展起来。"

除 了在本地生产以外,奥丁格还在高塔,施维林及门兴哥拉德巴赫开了三家啤酒厂。公司自己有一个200辆拖车的啤酒运输车队。谈起奥丁格公司的成就,科尔马不 仅露出一丝骄傲的神情:"五年以来,奥丁格啤酒在德国的销售量一直占居第一。我们每年在德国销售6亿5000万升啤酒,占德国啤酒总销售量8%左右。这的 确是个可观的数字。"



目 前奥丁格公司生产30多种啤酒及混合饮料。为了保证持续发展,该公司现将目光投向了年轻的顾客群。科尔马介绍说:"我们今年很可能达到5%的增长。这听起 来好象不多。但6亿5000万升的百分之五就是3000多万升。奥丁格的新产品也越来越受到年轻人的喜爱。这也保障了我们的发展。"


作者:Klaus Ulrich / 王雪丁

2009年5月23日 星期六

For This Guru, No Question Is Too Big

For This Guru, No Question Is Too Big

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

A lifelong climber, Jim Collins brings the same doggedness to his research, exploring mysteries like why some companies succeed and, in his latest book, how successful companies can implode.

Published: May 23, 2009

Boulder, Colo.

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Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Jim Collins times himself and tries to stick to his goal of spending half his workday on creative pursuits like his research. To keep the “other” category small, he keeps his company small.

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

JIM COLLINS calls his third-floor offices in the heart of this mountain-ringed city a “management lab.” But little distinguishes his workspace from most others, save for a few things.

There is, for example, the small sign outside the door: “ChimpWorks.” In case anybody doesn’t get the point, a large Curious George doll sits in a leather chair, delivering the we-ask-a-lot-of-questions-here punch line. And in a corner of the white board at the end of his long conference room, Mr. Collins keeps this short list:

Creative 53%

Teaching 28%

Other 19%

That, he explains, is a running tally of how he’s spending his time, and whether he’s sticking to a big goal he set for himself years ago: to spend 50 percent of his workdays on creative pursuits like research and writing books, 30 percent on teaching-related activities, and 20 percent on all the other things he has to do.

These aren’t ballpark guesstimates. Mr. Collins, who is 51, keeps a stopwatch with three separate timers in his pocket at all times, stopping and starting them as he switches activities. Then he regularly logs the times into a spreadsheet.

He has a good jump, too, on another overarching goal he’s set for himself: to produce a lasting and distinctive body of work.

Within the sprawling and overpopulated world of self-styled gurus dispensing advice on management and leadership, Mr. Collins is in rare company. His last two books — “Built to Last” and “Good to Great” — were breakout hits, selling about seven million copies combined.

Rather than presenting silver-bullet formulas that are easily forgotten, Mr. Collins’s books offer tangible frameworks for understanding why organizations succeed. His winning streak is about to be tested with his just-released book, which takes a turn, as he says, to the “dark side,” focusing on why companies fail. At any other time, it would seem a long shot, in that it lacks the upbeat message of his previous books. But his timing, given the number of once-great companies now in ruin, couldn’t have been better.

It seems that Mr. Collins, for all his exacting approaches to time management and research, has been blessed with something he cannot control: repeated bouts of flat-outluck.

He started researching his new book, titled “How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In,” in 2005. Back then, the Dow Jones index had passed 10,000 and was still climbing, eventually to more than 14,000, and Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, General Motors and Fannie Mae still had bright futures.

Now the stages of decline that he maps out in the book — hubris born of success; undisciplined pursuit of more; denial of risk and peril; grasping for salvation with a quick, big solution; and capitulation to irrelevance or death — offer a kind of instant autopsy for an economy on the stretcher.

He writes that he’s come to see institutional decline as a “staged disease” — harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages — which is likely to foster a sense of corporate hypochondria in many readers.

He started working on his previous book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don’t,” in the mid-1990s, smack in the middle of New Economy fever.

“Good to Great” was finally published in late 2001 — not long after the dot-com bubble burst, the pixie dust surrounding visionary leaders had fallen away, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the country to its core. The book struck a chord with its back-to-basics message: Quiet but determined leaders who remained focused on clear and simple goals were the real success stories of corporate America.

It won a following, about four million copies’ worth, that extended well beyond the business world and included football coaches, pastors and school principals.

“We were really slow, and so it comes out right after everything is falling apart,” Mr. Collins recalls. “If we had come out in 1998, I don’t think anyone would have read it.”

His first best seller, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” another five-year project, which he co-wrote with Jerry I. Porras, came out in 1994, on the heels of the re-engineering craze in corporate America; it also went on to sell millions of copies.

And his next book, which he is writing with Morten T. Hansen and is due out in two or three years, is about why certain companies manage to thrive through tumultuous times.

“I think it’s just pure luck,” says Mr. Collins, parsing his track record in an interview here. “You flip a coin and it comes up heads, and you flip a coin and it comes up heads, and you flip a coin and it comes up heads, and one day you have four heads in a row. You can’t really say you made it come up heads.”

But it’s not all luck, of course.

PART of the Jim Collins method borrows from other hypersuccessful people. He approaches every aspect of his life with purpose and intensity.

Consider a few examples.

Four days after his first date with Joanne Ernst in the spring of 1980 — an eight-mile run when both were students at Stanford — they were engaged, and married later that year.

When she announced over breakfast one day that she thought she could win an Ironman Triathlon, Mr. Collins gave up his job at Hewlett-Packard to help her train, be her roadie and negotiate her sponsorships with companies like Nike and Budweiser. Joanne won the 1985 Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon.

Back then, he says, his wife was the better-known half of the couple, and everyone assumed that his name was Jim Ernst.

For his 50th birthday — his “gift to myself,” as he put it — Mr. Collins, a lifelong climber, trained for 18 months to try a climb El Capitan, the 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.

Most climbers take a few days for the ascent. He wanted to do it in less than 24 hours. So he trained with a younger, stronger partner. He studied weather patterns at Yosemite going back almost 100 years to figure out the best window for an attempt. They climbed the first 1,400 feet in the dark, and completed the ascent in 19 hours.

Oh, he sleeps with vigor, too. He figures that he needs to get 70 to 75 hours of sleep every 10 days, and once went to a sleep lab to learn more about his own patterns. Now — surprise, surprise — he logs his time spent on a pillow, naps included, and monitors a rolling average.

“If I start falling below that,” he says, pointing to the short list on his whiteboard, “I can still teach and do ‘other,’ but I can’t create.”

Mr. Hansen, his co-author on the current turbulence project, occasionally teases Mr. Collins about his relentless self-improvement.

“I always laugh about the sleep log,” he says.

Mr. Collins also is quite practiced at saying “no.” Requests pour in every week for him to give speeches to corporations and trade associations. It could be a bustling sideline, given that he commands a top-tier fee of $65,000 to dispense his wisdom. But he will give only 18 speeches this year, and about a third of them will be pro bono for nonprofit groups.

Companies also ask him to consult. But he mostly declines, agreeing only if the company intrigues him and if its executives come to Boulder to meet him. Over two half-day sessions, for $60,000, he will ask pointed questions and provide very few answers.

“I am completely Socratic,” he said, “and I challenge and push; they come up with their own answers. I couldn’t come up with people’s answers.”

Book tours? No. Splurging with the millions he’s earned from his books? No, too.

He and his wife still live in the 2,500-square-foot Craftsman-style house they bought when they moved back from California 14 years ago to Boulder, their hometown. He keeps his overhead low, with a staff of five people, and adds students for research work as needed.

This orientation — a willingness to say no and focus on what not to do as much as what to do — stems from a conversation that Mr. Collins had with one of his mentors, the late Peter F. Drucker, the pioneer in social and management theories.

“Do you want to build ideas first and foremost?” he recalls Mr. Drucker asking him, trying to capture his mentor’s Austrian accent. “Zen you must not build a big organization, because zen you will end up managing zat organization.”

Therefore, in Jim Collins’s world, small is beautiful.

“We could have had a big consulting firm and training firm and it would have been a huge lucrative machine,” he says. “But I want to answer the questions.”

THOSE questions have a certain good-dumb flavor. Why do certain companies enjoy enduring success? How did some companies make the transition from good to great? Why do certain companies thrive in turbulent times?

Whenever an intriguing question arises, usually spawned by a good conversation, Mr. Collins becomes obsessed with it. “Like a wolf, it grabs me around the throat and it won’t let go,” he says.

His new book, “How the Mighty Fall,” grew out of a discussion he led in the fall of 2004 at West Point, with 12 Army generals, 12 chief executives and 12 leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Collins put this question on the table: “Is America renewing its greatness, or is America dangerously on the cusp of falling from great to good?”

At a break, one C.E.O. pulled him aside and asked him a question that boiled down to, “How would you know if your successful company is on a path to decline?”

An article trying to answer that question grew into his current book. He looked for useful matched pairs — similar companies whose performance clearly diverged at a certain point.

Once he narrowed the field, he compiled decades of data and articles on each company to help explain what led to an inflection point, then kept sifting the data for patterns, divining theories from the data, and seeking out arguments to tell him why the theories were flawed.

It’s roughly the same method he’s used for all of his books.

“Jim is a very interesting combination of things,” said Mr. Porras, his co-author on “Built to Last” who taught Mr. Collins many of the research techniques he uses today. “He’s amazingly creative, amazingly disciplined, amazingly thorough. He has strong opinions about things, but after a lot of arguments, he certainly would change his mind. A lot of people who have strong opinions never really let go of them.”

For each book, he hires a research team of university students, up to a dozen at a time, to help him during long summers of work. He is picky about whom he hires, typically from Stanford and the University of Colorado. They’re not always business students; they might be studying law or engineering or biochemistry.

He prefers to learn as much as he can about them before he meets them. “Because if I meet them, I may like them, and then all the assessment of the person is going to be filtered by the fact that I like them, and what I really want to see is the quality of their work,” he says.

So he will look at their transcripts. “If they even have a small glitch in their academic record over the last year, they don’t really get considered,” he says. “I need people who have that just weird need to get everything right.”

He gives the candidates a list of different academic activities, including field work and lab work, and makes them rank the activities in order of preference, to give him a clear idea of their interests.

If they clear other hurdles, he will finally meet them in person. He’s looking for four intangibles: smart, curious, willing to death-march (“there has to be something in their background that indicates that they just will die before they would fail to complete something to perfection”) and some spark of irreverence (“because it’s in that fertile conversation of disagreement where the best ideas come, or at least the best ideas get tested”).

“So I look for somebody who on the one hand was an Eagle Scout, because that’s death-marching,” he explained. “And, on the other hand, somebody who took time off to travel to 14 third-world countries on no money.” One of his researchers, an M.B.A. student, had studied medieval literature at Princeton and served in the Marines.

The research on his books can cost up to $500,000. (For the first two, he was writing personal checks out of his and his wife’s personal savings.) With the research complete, Mr. Collins retreats into “cave mode” for months and months, seven days a week — a period when his wife says he is “there, but not there.”

He will read through every page of every binder that’s been assembled, making notes that he will then use for a first draft.

“I call it monk mode, and I love monk mode,” he says.

Writing is not so much fun — “painful,” “excruciating” and “brutal” is how he describes the process. It’s not that he’s after a certain lyricism. His writing is clear and unadorned. But it does feel as if every sentence has been pressure-tested and carefully calibrated so that it doesn’t go beyond what he can back with evidence from one of his binders.

It is slow going.

“If I’m going really, really fast, I can do a page of finished text a day, on average,” he says. A 36-page monograph he published, “Good to Great and the Social Sectors,” took him the better part of two years to write. It sold 400,000 copies.

He then gets feedback from a large circle of people. To make sure they don’t hold back, he refers to them as his “critical readers,” and types in large letters atop the manuscript, “Bad First Draft.”

“That gives them the freedom to say, ‘Jim already knows it’s bad, so let me tell him how it’s bad,’ ” he says.

THE findings are by no means pure science — everything does get filtered through Mr. Collins’s brain, after all. And there are plenty of critics, taking issue with what they say are generic and obvious points, based on research methods that are not as ironclad as they appear.

Others have pointed out that some of the companies he held up as models in “Good to Great,” including Fannie Mae and Circuit City, no longer look so good or great — or, in the case of Circuit City, are even in business.

On his Freakonomics blog, Steven D. Levitt wrote last year that the message of a book like “Good to Great” is “that the principles that these companies use not only have made them good in the past, but position them for continued success.” He added, “To the extent that this doesn’t actually turn out to be true, it calls into question the basic premise of these books, doesn’t it?”

Mr. Collins takes issue with the criticism, even devoting a long passage in his new book to defending “Good to Great” in light of the subsequent failures of some companies it praised.

“Just because a company falls doesn’t invalidate what we can learn by studying that company when it was at its historical best,” he writes.

He says the merits of analyzing the reasons for a company’s long winning streak — or, for that matter, a sports team’s — are just as valid even if the company or team can’t maintain the winning formula. If people eat right and exercise, then stop doing so, it doesn’t make those habits any less valid, he writes.

Still, anyone looking for code-cracking formulas for success in business is going to be disappointed by Mr. Collins’s books — and every other book, for that matter. What he offers are provocative models for assessing why companies succeed and fail, supported by research that fills dozens of boxes now stored in his basement.

He also has a deft touch with metaphors that enliven what might otherwise read like dry case studies — flywheels and doom loops, hedgehogs and foxes, and a bus analogy borrowed from “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe.

VIGOROUS debates continue on blogs about the merits of Mr. Collins’s books. One of the more thoughtful comments, on Business Pundit, says, “The points in the Good to Great book may seem very general, however you’ll be amazed that not many people understand ‘general’ concepts like that things don’t happen overnight or the importance of facing facts.”

Given that every company and industry is different, the books’ real value may be not so much in the answers they provide, but in the questions they raise — the kind that every company and manager should be asking.

Mr. Collins’s success has provided him with a financial cushion that allows him to search around, without worry, hoping to stumble upon more of those throat-grabbing wolves. “Now, fortunately, I can probably spend the rest of my life picking any question I want to, regardless of whether it will be profitable,” he says. “I can just let my curiosity wander unleashed.”

2009年5月19日 星期二

Obama to Toughen Rules on Emissions and Mileage

Obama to Toughen Rules on Emissions and Mileage

Published: May 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama will announce tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.

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Axel Koester for The New York Times

The White House wants the nation’s cars to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, some 10 miles above today’s average vehicle.


Times Topics: Fuel Efficiency

Readers' Comments

The rules, which will begin to take effect in 2012, will put in place a federal standard for fuel efficiency that is as tough as the California program, while imposing the first-ever limits on climate-altering gases from cars and trucks.

The effect will be a single new national standard that will create a car and light truck fleet in the United States that is almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016 than it is today, with an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.

Environmental advocates and industry officials welcomed the new program, but for different reasons. Environmentalists called it a long-overdue tightening of emissions and fuel economy standards after decades of government delay and industry opposition. Auto industry officials said it would provide the single national efficiency standard they have long desired, a reasonable timetable to meet it and the certainty they need to proceed with product development plans.

Yet the industry position represents an abrupt about-face after years of battling tougher mileage standards in the courts and in Congress, reflecting the change in the political climate and the automakers’ shaky financial condition. The decision comes as General Motors and Chrysler are receiving billions of dollars in federal help, closing hundreds of dealerships and trying to design the products and business strategy they will need to survive.

“For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos,” said Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the industry’s largest trade association. “President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a national program.”

Mr. McCurdy, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, has been working with Mr. Obama and his advisers on the issue since early this year.

In announcing the new program at the White House, Mr. Obama will be accompanied by Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, along with auto industry executives and environmental leaders.

The administration’s decision resolves a question over California’s application for a waiver from federal clean air laws to impose its own, tougher vehicle emissions standards. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have said they plan to adopt the California program.

The new national fleet mileage rule for cars and light trucks of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 roughly corresponds to the California requirement, which will be shelved as a result. The current national standard is slightly more than 25 miles per gallon.

The California plan, first proposed in 2002, had been stalled by industry lawsuits and the Bush administration’s refusal to grant a waiver from less stringent federal rules, although California has been given dozens of such exemptions over the last 40 years.

The program will also end a number of lawsuits over the California standards, officials said.

“This is a very big deal,” said Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, who has pushed for tougher mileage and emissions standards for two decades with the goal of curbing the gases that have been linked to global warming. “This is the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

The administration had faced a June 30 deadline set by Congress to decide whether to grant California’s application to put its emissions rules into effect. President Obama became personally involved in the issue because he was also trying to find a way to rescue American auto companies from their financial crisis.

One ranking industry official said that the administration wanted to get the new mileage rules in place before General Motors made a decision on a bankruptcy filing, which could happen by the end of this month. The new rules also provide some certainty for Chrysler, which is already under bankruptcy protection, so that it can plan its future models.

To meet the new federal standards, auto companies will have to drastically change their product lineups in a relatively short time.

The companies have declined so far to comment on the costs involved in meeting a fleet standard of 35 miles a gallon. For starters, the automakers will probably have to sharply reduce the number of low-mileage models, like pickup trucks and large sedans.

The president’s decision will also accelerate the development of smaller cars and engines already under way.

But Mr. McCurdy said the industry could meet the new mileage targets using existing technology and improvements in future models. He said that 130 models already got 30 miles a gallon or better on the highway.

In January, Mr. Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. He also instructed the Transportation Department to draw up rules to complement a 2007 law requiring a 40 percent improvement in mileage for autos and light trucks by 2020. The Bush administration wrote no regulations to enforce the 2007 law.

Mr. Obama will direct the E.P.A. and the Transportation Department to jointly write enforcement regulations.

Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the liberal Center for American Progress, said that under the White House plan, California would retain the ability to set its own emissions standards in the future when the current program expired.

He also said the new administration program was very close in language and intent to a provision in the climate change and energy bill now before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That bill calls for a “harmonization” of the California and federal regulatory programs to provide a nationwide standard.

Mr. Obama has been thinking about the future of the American automobile industry for years. He co-sponsored two bills in 2006, during his second year as a United States senator, one to raise fuel economy standards and the other to encourage the use of alternative fuels.

During the presidential campaign, he gave a speech in Detroit chastising the American automobile industry for doing too little to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and improve their vehicles’ efficiency.

“The auto industry’s refusal to act for so long has left it mired in a predicament for which there is no easy way out,” Mr. Obama said.

That inaction has been a factor in the current dire state in which General Motors and Chrysler find themselves. The Japanese automakers are far ahead in developing smaller, more efficient vehicles, although they, too, will have to adjust their product lines.

Fran Pavley, the California state senator who sponsored the legislation that established the California standard, praised the decision as she traveled to Washington Monday to join the White House meeting on Tuesday.

She said through a spokeswoman that California would work on its own rules while the federal regulations were drafted. “This cleans up our air, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and continues to allow California to lead the way,” she said.

Micheline Maynard and Bill Vlasic contributed reporting.

2009年5月13日 星期三

Belgian rock who scaled a Swiss peak


Belgian rock who scaled a Swiss peak

By Haig Simonian , Jenny Wiggins 2009-05-11

W orking in Peru in the early 1980s, as the Shining Path guerrillas cast an ever longer shadow over the country, Paul Bulcke got into the habit of forming close-knit, supportive relationships with his Nestlé colleagues. Nearly three decades later, that reputation as a team player in a company wary of prima donnas helped the quietly spoken Belgian succeed Peter Brabeck to become chief executive of the Swiss food company.

For outsiders, the chatty, charming Paul Polman - who subsequently left Nestlé to become chief executive at Unilever, one of its key competitors - had been the obvious choice. Within Nestlé, however, Mr Bulcke's undemonstrative style and solid record over 30 years spoke for themselves.

The 54-year-old still finds it hard to answer the question of why he was chosen. "I'm trying always to simplify things," he suggests over lunch at Nestlé's headquarters in Vevey, overlooking Lake Geneva to the French Alps. "And I try to align people behind common purposes . . . I love working in teams."

Nestlé, he says, has been part of his life since his youth, when he collected stickers of its products. "I had these albums . . . you didn't go to a library [or] buy books, you made them." After training as a commercial engineer (a subject his two sons have also chosen to study - "boring family!"), he joined Nestlé in 1979, aged 25.

He chose the Swiss group because he and his wife, a neighbourhood sweetheart from their native Ostend, wanted to see the world. A university friend who worked for Nestlé recommended the company and, after expressing interest in South America, Mr Bulcke spent the next 16 years in Peru (where he travelled round with his family in an orange Volkswagen), Ecuador and Chile.

"Ecuador is a nice country," he reflects. "But also problems . . . Latin America, it's a pity, they could be so much better."

Major promotion came in 1996 when he was made market head in Portugal, followed by similar positions in the Czech and Slovak Republics and Germany. In 2004, he reached the group's executive board, followed soon after by responsibility for the Americas.

In hindsight, that was the break that groomed Mr Bulcke as chief executive for the company, which operates in every country of the world except North Korea, and whose products (1.2bn are sold every day) range from Maggi sauces to Kit Kat chocolate bars and Gerber baby foods.

In his four years heading the region, the Americas pulled away from Europe as Nestlé's biggest regional market. Mr Bulcke not only proved himself a salesman but also burnished his reputation as a rounded manager. Although most of Nestlé's big US acquisitions, such as Dreyer's ice cream, took place shortly before his arrival, it was during his tenure that vital integration took place.

One year on as chief executive, he admits to "maturing into the job" but still tends to emphasise company strategy over any personal contribution. "The whole thing about what my legacy might be is just not my way of doing things," he says, insisting instead that he wants to make Nestlé "the recognised, leading, nutrition health and wellness company".

Hasn't Nestlé already achieved that? "No, not in my eyes . . . So there's major work to be done still."

Mr Bulcke maintains his mission is to continue the course set by Mr Brabeck, who remains chairman, and Helmut Maucher before him. His predecessors, who served a cumulative 26 years in charge, turned Nestlé into the world's largest foods group through geographic expansion, especially into the US, and by developing a broader portfolio, adding products such as waters and pet foods along with high-margin "nutritional" brands.

Transformational deals, such as the acquisition of the Carnation food company, are over and the emphasis now is on consolidation and operational excellence along with the occasional bolt-on acquisition, he says. He will not comment on whether these could include L'Oréal, of which Nestlé owns just above 30 per cent.

If undramatic, like the new chief executive himself, the formula has gone down well. In recent quarters, Nestlé has pulled convincingly ahead of rivals, such as Unilever or Danone, producing sector-beating profits and growth. Last year, the group comfortably exceeded its target of raising sales by 5-6 per cent - no mean feat for a company with annual turnover of SFr100bn (£59bn): "That's the equivalent of the entire year's sales of a small multinational."

Figures for the first quarter, released last month, showed Nestlé remained broadly on course in spite of the recession. Organic growth of 3.8 per cent was below the group's mid-term target. But Nestlé reiterated its forecast for organic growth "at least approaching" its annual 5 per cent goal alongside further improvements in its profit margin in local currencies. "The business is holding up pretty well," notes Alex Molloy of Credit Suisse.

Mr Bulcke claims Nestlé, while "not in denial" about the financial crisis, has been shielded by its size and geographical spread. The company was able to identify, relatively early, impending commodity and energy price rises and pass them on. "We want to see the glass half full. My father always told me, if you want to organise for disaster, guess what, you may get it."

Scale also helped. Many established products, such as Nescafé coffee, are available at different prices, meaning customers can continue buying, even if only in smaller packets. "People don't have to trade out of our brands. You have Nescafé, and Nescafé Gold and Nescafé Classic and Nescafé Sachet . . . and then you have the offerings of Nespresso."

Popularly Positioned Products, an established strategy for developing markets, has also come as a useful recession-buster. For years, the group sold items in very small quantities in countries such as India or China where customers struggled to afford the bigger packets and tins common in the developed world.

Mr Bulcke argues the PPP philosophy, which encompasses pricing, packaging and distribution, is a "very timely" business model for developed markets as people buy cheaper groceries.

In the US, for example, the group imports chocolates made in Mexico. The products, targeted at Hispanic buyers, have an emotional appeal while the relatively small and inexpensive packets make them affordable as customers tighten their belts. "We have to show empathy for the consumer."

Mr Bulcke says one of his biggest worries is keeping consumers' trust, a task that is increasingly challenging for food companies as they source ingredients more widely, making it difficult to keep tabs on safety. "Trust is the most important thing we create - it's hard to build up and you can lose it in the flash of a second."

The other is the increased responsibilities that come with leadership. To explain, he pulls out a piece of paper. "That's where I was just before CEO," he says, drawing a triangle and scribbling a line just below the apex.

"You still have lots of responsibility, a whole zone, North America, that's quite interesting . . . but I was cocooned, I didn't go through the stress of talking to the press. When you come here [he points to the apex], that's where the buck stops. All of a sudden, your responsibility goes this way [he draws another triangle, inverted on top of the previous one]. You have the board, stakeholders, financial analysts, investors, governments, authorities, press . . . it scares and it invites."

After the deluge: why Nestlé expects a bottled water comeback

One of the main challenges Paul Bulcke faces is to demonstrate Nestlé's social responsibility. Growing disdain among consumers for water packaged in plastic has hit sales of Vittel, Perrier and Poland Spring while many of Nestlé's competitors - most recently Cadbury and Mars - are signing up to certification schemes such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance.

Mr Bulcke believes the backlash against bottled water is temporary. "Rationality is going to come back," he says, arguing that water remains a healthy alternative to soft drinks and a safe source of hydration in developing countries. "It's hard for me to understand that water is, all of a sudden, the paradigm of all evil."

Nestlé is making its bottles lighter, so they use less plastic, and promoting recycling. "We have to create awareness with people so they act responsibly."

He rejects the idea that Nestlé needs a certification body to prove it treats farmers fairly and sources materials sustainably. "In Switzerland, people do good things and they do them under their own conviction, and they shut up . . . Nestlé is a little like that."

Nevertheless, Mr Bulcke concedes Nestlé needs to "frame" its actions better. It is promoting a concept it calls "creating shared value" which will sponsor global programmes to reduce water use, improve nutrition and develop rural communities.


作者:英国《金融时报》海格•西蒙尼恩(Haig Simonian)、 珍妮•威金斯( Jenny Wiggins) 2009-05-11

上世纪80年代初,正当“光明之路”游击队给秘鲁投下史上最长的阴影时,保罗•薄凯(Paul Bulcke)就在秘鲁为雀巢(Nestlé)工作,并养成了与同事建立紧密关系、相互协作的习惯。近30年过去后,在这个警惕自我本位主义者的公司,凭 借善于团队合作的声誉,这位说话温和的比利时人接替包必达(Peter Brabeck),成为了这家瑞士食品公司的首席执行官。

在外界看来,健谈、迷人的保罗•波尔曼(Paul Polman)是显然的接班人选,但在雀巢内部,薄凯的内敛作风及其过去30年的优秀业绩是无须赘言的。波尔曼随后离开雀巢,去担任雀巢主要竞争对手之一联合利华(Unilever)的首席执行官。

现年54岁的薄凯仍觉得难以解释他被选中的原因。在位于沃韦(Vevey)的雀巢总部,他一边享用午餐,视线越过日内瓦湖(Lake Geneva),看向法国阿尔卑斯山,一边说道:“我总是试图把事情简单化。我试图让人们团结在共同的目标之下……我喜欢在团队中工作。”

他说,自青年时期起,雀巢就是他生活中的一部分,那时候,他会收集雀巢产品的标签。“我以前有这些标签簿……不是去图书馆(或)买书,而是自己制作 的。”在念完商务工程师(他的两个儿子也选择了这门学科——“无趣的家庭!”)的课程后,他于1979年加入雀巢。当时他25岁。




事后看来,这是个转折点,使他得到了历练,为后来担任首席执行官做好了准备。雀巢业务遍及除朝鲜以外的所有国家,日销售产品12亿件,旗下产品包括美极(Maggi)调味料、奇巧(Kit Kat)巧克力和嘉宝(Gerber)婴儿食品等等。

在他执掌美洲业务的4年内,美洲取代欧洲,成为雀巢最大的区域市场。薄凯不仅证明了自己是一位营销人才,同时也打下了作为一名全能型管理人才的声 誉。尽管雀巢在美国的多数重大收购(比如收购醉尔斯(Dreyer's)冰淇淋)都是在他上任前不久发生的,但至关重要的整合却是在他的任期内进行的。



薄凯认为,他的使命是继续执行包必达及其前任赫尔穆特•毛赫(Helmut Maucher)所设定的路线。包必达目前仍担任董事长之职。这两位前任一共在位26年,将雀巢打造成了全球最大的食品集团。他们实施地理扩张,尤其是打 进美国市场,并扩大了产品种类,在利润率较高的“营养”品牌之外,增添了水和宠物食品。


如果没有波澜,就像这位新任首席执行官一样,这个公式已经执行得很好。在最近几个季度,雀巢已经明显领先于联合利华和达能(Danone)等竞争对 手,创造出了超行业表现的利润和增长。去年,该集团轻松超过了将销售量提高5%至6%的目标——对于一家年营业额为1000亿瑞郎的公司来说,这可是不俗 的成绩:“相当于一家小型跨国公司全年的销售额。”

上个月公布的首季业绩表明,尽管经济低迷,但雀巢基本上仍在朝着既定方向发展。内生增长率为3.8%,低于该集团的中期目标。但雀巢重申了内生增长 率“至少接近”5%的年度目标和以本币计算的利润率将进一步提高的预测。瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)的亚历克斯•莫洛伊(Alex Molloy)指出:“雀巢的经营情况相当好。”


包装尺寸也有帮助。许多老产品以不同的价位提供,比如雀巢咖啡(Nescafé),这意味着顾客可以继续购买,虽说是小一些的包装。“人们不必放弃 购买我们的品牌。你有雀巢咖啡(Nescafé)、雀巢金牌咖啡(Nescafé Gold)、Nescafé Classic和Nescafé Sachet可以选择……然后我们还提供Nespresso。”

针对发展中市场的大众化定位产品(Popularly Positioned Products)策略,也成为有用的抗衰退工具。多年来,雀巢一直在中印等国出售小容量产品,因为这里很多顾客负担不起在发达国家常见的大包装袋或大包装罐的产品。





“你也是有许多责任,整个区域、北美,这十分有意思……但我处于内部,不必承受面对媒体的压力。当你到这个位置的时候(他指着顶点),这就是最高点 了。突然之间,你的责任转向了另一个方向(他在上述三角形上方,画了一个倒三角形)。你要面对董事会、股东、财务分析师、投资者、政府、权威机构、媒 体……这令人害怕,也令人向往。”


薄凯面临的主要挑战之一是展现雀巢的社会责任感。消费者对塑料包装饮用水越来越反感,已经影响了Vittel、巴黎水(Perrier)和波兰泉 (Poland Spring)的销售。另一方面,雀巢的许多竞争对手都签署了公平贸易(Fairtrade)和雨林联盟(Rainforest Alliance)之类的认证计划,最近的就有吉百利(Cadbury)和玛氏(Mars)。






2009年5月11日 星期一


德国经济 | 2009.05.11


通常来说,家族企业被视为是德国经济的支柱, 不过这并不仅仅是德国特有的现象,在世界上的工业国家中,家族企业在所有企业类型中所占的比例最高,为70%。而在德国这个比例还要高,在3百万个德国企 业中有95%都是家族企业。一本新出版的百科辞典中列出了1千个这类企业的名字。

德 国最古老的家族企业是慕尼黑的皇家面包房,历史文献上记载这个面包房诞生于1331年。同样具有悠久的家族历史的企业是私人啤酒厂措特勒,它建于1447 年,至今掌管这家企业的已是家族中的第20代了。当然,并不是所有的家族企业都有这么悠久的历史,但是他们的意义对德国的国民经济来说有一个共同点。

赖 因哈德·齐坎是家用电器制造商美诺两位总裁中的其中一位。他说:"家族企业意义重大,因为与大企业相比它有着完全不同的目的。家族企业一向保持其优良的企 业传统和家庭传统。它凝聚区域的力量,也承担着对员工、人民和区域负责的任务。所以它有着和其它企业不同的价值观。过这个意义上,它又形成了一个小世界, 这些东西在一个所谓的大世界里是找不到的,这也令人非常遗憾。"

现 在,一本新出版的德国家庭企业百科辞典想对此作一些补救。在这本百科辞典中,人们可以找到众多家庭企业中一千个企业的资料、现状和引人入胜的历史故事。这 本辞典也是由知名的家庭出版商弗洛里安·朗根沙伊特出版的。"家庭企业正在经历一个繁荣的时期。其实家庭企业的繁荣由来已久。我相信企业虽然要以盈利为目 的,但是并不是不择手段,家族企业一直坚持着它以人为本的原则。在家族企业中,人们得到的认同感,不是在每一个大企业中都可以找到的。"

如 今的现状说明了一切,大约40%的销售额是家族企业创下的,60%的工作岗位也是由家族企业提供的,80%的学徒都是在这里拿到了培训合同。即使在经济危 机背景下,裁员也是最不得以的做法。那些持股的大企业也可以从家族企业身上学到很多东西。美诺的总裁齐坎说:"我想信他们可以从中学到把持续性作为自己的 目标,还有在平静中爆发策略的道理。只考虑到一个季度的销售额可能只对股市和股市价格很重要,但是这对企业本身来说通常是有害的。这是出于为企业本身考虑 的目的,并不为其他什么。"

布 吕贝克也这样认为,他是亚琛拉姆贝尔茨姜饼和巧克力工厂的第9代主人。在他领导企业的同时还致力于很多的社会活动。"我相信,在如今这个艰难的时期,家族 企业虽然面临很多的挑战,但是也得到了更多的机遇。我觉得让企业更加人性化,和做出更能贴近市场的决策是关键。这是一个企业的优点,责任也是风险和商机。 我也同样相信,坚持走持续性发展的路线和抱着对社会负责的态度也是必不可缺的。如果越来越多的企业可以这么做,他们也将得到更多的机会,同时也能在外界确 定他们的地位。"


作者:Heinrik Böhme / 陶丽

Tackles the 'arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm'

IBM files patent for shorter meetings

Tackles the 'arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm'

Excellent news for employers who can't help feeling business is being hit hard by traditional meetings where one hour is set aside for the get-together, regardless of whether there's actually an agenda substantial enough to fill the time: IBM has filed a patent aimed at tackling the "arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm".

The blurb elaborates: "A significant source of wasted time is the general predisposition to using integral units of time, based on hour or half hour increments. This is especially true of business meetings, which are invariably scheduled to last an hour.

"Meeting attendees will fill the full hour for which the meeting is scheduled regardless of whether the entire hour is necessary to address the business at hand. The result of this is that a meeting that could have taken less than an hour will end up wasting time due to the arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm."

Fair enough. And the solution? Well, IBM notes that "if an hour were shorter, by a small amount, we would be more focused, and accomplish the same amount of work, but in less real time, thereby increasing productivity".

Cue a "time template including a plurality of predefined time intervals for scheduling meetings" which can be deployed "across a collaborative system".

In case you're wondering, said plurality of time intervals "may include at least a first time interval having a first duration and a second time interval having a second duration different than the first time interval".

Rather brilliantly, IBM explains that its "relatively shorter time intervals" could "facilitate meetings and appointments having a relatively short anticipated duration". The benefit of this is that "with a relatively shorter scheduled time for a meeting, attendees of the meeting may be required to maintain greater focus in order to accomplish the goals of the meeting in the scheduled time".

But what happens if you've got a lot a stuff to discuss at your meeting? Fret not - IBM has got it covered: "Relatively longer time intervals may accommodate longer and/or more involved meetings."

Phew. Quite how much IBM's hour-redefining software will cost remains to be seen, and here's one poser for would-be buyers to consider: Do they schedule a one-hour meeting to discuss the possible purchase or pencil in a rather shorter predefined time interval of two minutes - more than enough to decide against investing in this preposterous nonsense.

2009年5月7日 星期四

Porsche and VW Move Closer to Uniting 保时捷与大众合并已成定局

企业 | 2009.05.07


一段时间以来,人们以为规模不大、但利润丰厚的跑车制造商保时捷试图吞并大众汽车集团。但是经济危机使情况发生了变化,现在大众和保时捷就合并达成了共 识。巴登-符腾堡州和下萨克森州的政府都给予了积极的回应。虽然保时捷拥有大众51%的股份,但是它也因此而负债90亿欧元,在新公司成立后保时捷还将保 持独立地位。保时捷现在拥有1万2200名员工,大众则在世界范围内拥有37万名员工。

大众和保时捷在萨尔斯堡的会面仅仅持续了4个小时,大众汽车和保时捷的合并已成定局,一个新的汽车股份有限公司马上就要诞生了。在这个未来 的公司旗下将会有10个品牌,但是保时捷依然是独立的品牌。在此基础上,大众和保时捷的董事将商讨合并后的细节。他们的目标是,在4周内制定未来公司的框 架。在这个过程中,双方企业的雇员代表以及作为大众最大股东的下萨克森州政府将参与公司未来蓝图的勾画。

大众和保时捷在萨尔斯堡的会谈只确定了新公司以后大致的发展方向,但如果没有拥有阻止表决权的下萨克森州政府的同意,这个计划就不可能执行。除此之 外还有很多的问题也都不确定,比如说新公司将设立在什么地方,沃尔夫斯堡还是斯图加特,还有谁将领导新公司等等。汽车专家威力·蒂茨教授说:“大众和保时 捷的联合意味着,人们需要一个新的领导团体。这也会引起人事上的变动,因为企业的职能将进行重新分配。”

但是现在还不清楚,是保时捷的总裁文德林·魏德金还是大众的总裁马丁·文德恩将领导这个新公司。无论如何,双方的董事会将在下周做好合并的各项准 备。究竟是大众还是保时捷将领导新公司的监事会,目前也不是很确定。如何接纳新的投资者,将不会在相关草案做出安排。但是从中长期来看,也不能排除这种可 能性。

随后,保时捷将自行解决财政问题。50亿欧元的资本增长显然已成为计划中的一部分。这样的话,保时捷在和大众合并前就实现了其增值的目的,它也将在 新公司中获得更多的股份。巴登-符腾堡州的总理君特·厄特林将在第一时间祝贺两家公司合并,下萨克森州的总理克里斯蒂安·伍尔夫表示,愿意同所有的参与者 对话。但是大众企业职工委员会的主席贝尔恩德·奥斯特洛夫的表态还是比较谨慎。奥斯特洛夫说关键是双方员工的利益是否会受侵害。

作者:Christof Gaissmayer / 陶莉


Porsche and VW Move Closer to Uniting

Published: May 6, 2009

After a four-year battle that combined dynastic politics with corporate deal-making, the families that control Porsche and Volkswagen reached a preliminary agreement on Wednesday to combine the two companies, uniting the biggest European car company with the elite sports car maker.

The combined entity will oversee 10 brands, but Porsche will continue to enjoy independent status within the new corporate structure, reflecting what is likely to be a continuing battle for dominance with Volkswagen.

But any final deal is weeks away because the supervisory boards of the two companies still have to sign off, as do union representatives and the state of Lower Saxony, which controls a sizable stake in Volkswagen.

But with the families in agreement, the biggest stumbling block in one of Europe’s longest-running corporate battles has been cleared.

In the new company, Porsche’s chief executive, Wendelin Wiedeking, is expected to play a more dominant role than he has, according to executives close to the negotiations who were not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.

Porsche is also expected to issue stock to help pay debt before any deal closes.

“In the final structure 10 brands shall stand below an integrated leading company alongside each other, whereby the independence of all brands and explicitly also of Porsche shall be ensured,” Porsche said in a statement.

Porsche had acquired a majority stake in Volkswagen, whose chairman, Ferdinand Piëch, is a member of the Porsche family that controls the automaker. But Mr. Piëch and his cousin, Wolfgang Porsche, could not agree on how to combine the two companies or how to lower Porsche’s debt of 9 billion euros ($12 billion).

Members of the Piëch and Porsche families have been in talks in Salzburg, Austria, that were part hard bargaining, part family drama.

The statement Wednesday did not address how the debt issue would be resolved. A working group, including union representatives of Lower Saxony and elsewhere, are to meet over the next four weeks to work out the details of the new company’s structure.

The global auto industry is in the midst of a broader consolidation, with Fiat of Italy preparing to take a 20 percent stake in Chrysler. Fiat is also interested in the European and Latin American operations of General Motors.

Volkswagen, which was created in the 1930s under the Nazi regime as the maker of the people’s car, has excelled in the market for small to midsize cars, and that is likely to be a crucial area of global competition.

2009年5月6日 星期三

In Major Shift, Apple Builds Its Own Team To Design Chips


2009年 04月 30日 12:07
In Major Shift, Apple Builds Its Own Team To Design Chips
Apple Inc. (AAPL) is building a significant capability to design its own computer chips, a strategy shift that the company hopes will create exclusive features for its gadgets and shield Apple's work from rivals.

The Silicon Valley trend-setter has been hiring people from many different segments of the semiconductor industry, including engineers to create multifunction chips that are used in cellphones to run software and carry out other chores.

Apple could use the internally developed chips to sharply reduce the power consumption of its hit iPhone and iPod touch devices, and possibly add graphics circuitry to help its hardware play realistic game software and high-definition videos, people familiar with its plans say.

In one sign of the new focus, Apple recently hired Raja Koduri, who was formerly the chief technology officer of the graphics products group at chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). Koduri started at Apple this week, following in the footsteps of Bob Drebin, who had held the same title at AMD and is also now working for Apple. Online job postings from Apple describe dozens of chip-related positions it is trying to fill, some with partial descriptions like 'testing the functional correctness of Apple developed silicon.'

Besides a desire to beat rivals to market with new features, Apple's shift is also an effort to share fewer details about its technology plans with external chip suppliers, say people familiar with the moves.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

The new effort faces plenty of hurdles, and people familiar with Apple's plans don't expect internally designed chips to emerge until next year at the earliest. Still, Apple's aggressive hiring is another sign of how the company's recent success has allowed it to expand while other tech giants have trimmed their work forces in the recession.

Apple's strategy also marks a break from a long-term trend among most big electronics companies to outsource the development of chips and other components to external suppliers.

Last spring, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs explained the purchase of Silicon Valley start-up P.A. Semi as a way to acquire expertise and technology to help run increasingly sophisticated software on iPhones and iPods. 'You can't just go out and buy the chips off the shelf to do that,' said Jobs in an interview.

Most cellphones are based on chip designs licensed by ARM Holdings PLC (ARMH) to others. For the iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNHY) supplies an ARM-based microprocessor with custom features developed by Apple, analysts say.

People familiar with Apple's thinking say executives have expressed concern that some information shared with outside vendors could find its way into chips sold to Apple competitors. A Samsung spokeswoman declined comment.

People familiar with the situation say Jobs told engineers from P.A. Semi last April that he wanted to develop chips internally and didn't want knowledge about that technology to leave the company. Jobs is on medical leave and was unavailable for comment.

People familiar with Apple's plans expect former P.A. Semi engineers to help create ARM-based chips that could improve the performance and battery life of future iPhones.

Yukari Iwatani Kane / Don Clark

2009年 04月 30日 12:07

果公司(Apple Inc.)正在大力提高自主設計電腦芯片的能力﹐公司希望通過這種策略上的轉變為其產品打造出獨特功能﹐減少競爭對手對蘋果的沖擊。



蘋 果最近將曾在芯片製造商高級微設備公司(Advanced Micro Devices Inc.)擔任圖形產品集團首席技術長的科多瑞(Raja Koduri)招致麾下﹐從中可以看出蘋果對這一新業務的重視。科多瑞本週開始工作﹐此前曾在AMD擔任同一職位的德雷賓(Bob Drebin)也加盟了蘋果。蘋果還在網上發佈了數十個同芯片有關的招聘職位﹐其中一些職位的描述中帶有諸如“測試蘋果開發芯片的功能正確性”等內容。





去年春季﹐蘋果首席執行長喬布斯(Steve Jobs)曾解釋說﹐公司收購硅谷初創企業P.A. Semi是為了獲取它的專業知識和技術﹐以便iPhone和iPod上日益複雜的軟件能更好運行。喬布斯在接受採訪時說﹐你不能總是到外面去購買已有的芯片來滿足這類要求。

大多數手機芯片的設計都基於ARM Holdings PLC的專利技術。分析師說﹐三星電子(Samsung Electronics Co.)負責向iPhone提供基於ARM技術的微處理器﹐該芯片的特定功能由蘋果自行開發。


知情人士說﹐喬布斯去年4月向P.A. Semi的工程師表示﹐他想在公司內部開發芯片﹐不希望有關的技術內容流出公司。喬布斯正在休病假﹐記者無法聯繫他發表評論。

瞭解蘋果公司計劃的人士預計﹐前P.A. Semi的工程師將幫助開發基於ARM技術的芯片﹐這些芯片將提高未來iPhone的性能和電池壽命。

Yukari Iwatani Kane / Don Clark

He Fought the Tort Bar -- and Won


He Fought the Tort Bar -- and Won

Thanks to a CEO's persistence, a federal judge discovers massive lawsuit fraud.

Berkeley Springs, W. Va.

Officially, John A. Ulizio is the CEO of U.S. Silica, one of the nation's largest producers of industrial sand. Unofficially, he's the man who fought the tort bar -- and won. It's a singular distinction in the world of runaway lawsuits.

[The Weekend Interview] Ismael Roldan

Clad in a hardhat and boots, standing in a quarry in which giant haul trucks carry Flintstone-sized boulders, the 53-year-old Mr. Ulizio seems an unlikely foe of today's slick plaintiffs' bar. The son of a Pennsylvania steel worker, he is blunt-spoken, works in a little-noticed industry, and likes to point out he's a Democrat ("probably the only one in the building.") What a cursory observation of Mr. Ulizio misses is his own law degree, and his steely sense of right and wrong.

In 2003 alone -- the year he took the company's top job -- U.S. Silica was served with nearly 20,000 lawsuits claiming it had caused silicosis -- a serious, if rare, lung disease. The tort bar saw silica as the "new asbestos," says Mr. Ulizio, and he had visions of his century-old concern going bankrupt, along with dozens of others.

Instead what ensued was a legal thriller, in which the defendants not only beat the suits, but exposed a mob of lawyers and doctors who were fabricating cases, and who are now under investigation. This year his company has been hit by only one silicosis claim. "We hoped the truth would prevail eventually," he says, back in the conference room of the company's modest headquarters. The realist adds: "It worked, but it didn't have to."

And that might be the most disturbing part of Mr. Ulizio's tale. "When you have an entire system that condones these lawsuits, that does nothing to police its own, where there are no consequences, right or wrong has nothing to do with it. It's a coin flip."

In June of 2005, Texas federal Judge Janice Graham Jack -- who was overseeing 9,000 silicosis lawsuits aggregated in her court -- issued an opinion that shook the tort bar to its core. During depositions, the handful of doctors who provided nearly all these diagnoses began to crack, admitting they'd never seen patients, that their secretaries had filled out forms, and that lawyers had told them what to write. It came out that two-thirds of those claiming to have silicosis had previously claimed to asbestosis -- a near medical impossibility.

Judge Jack's 249-page scathing opinion unraveled a scam of giant proportions. She accused the doctors and lawyers of "diagnoses that were manufactured for money," provided evidence of fraud, required a Houston plaintiff's firm to pay defense legal costs, and issued sanctions.

Within a few months, Congress and a federal grand jury were investigating. For U.S. Silica, named in nearly every suit, it was a fairy tale end to a nightmare. Even Mr. Ulizio was shocked. "It was like, 'Oh my God, finally, after all these years, somebody is seeing the truth.'"

Years being the operative word. Mr. Ulizio is a humble guy, and gruffly waves off suggestions that he or his company played any special role in this victory. He ascribes the Texas success to all the defendants equally, as well as the willingness of insurers to join the battle, and to enlist top-notch attorneys. But that is to ignore the knowledge and the backbone Mr. Ulizio and U.S. Silica brought to this fight.

Silicosis litigation isn't new. Silica is one of those products that has been around forever and is used in just about everything, though nobody knows it. The West Virginia factory is a grinding operation: The company mills sand into different sizes, which is then used in everything from glass, to Kevlar, to paint, to the molds used to create steel forms. With silica comes silica dust, which has been health concern since well before 1936, when Labor Secretary Frances Perkins first held a conference on silicosis.

U.S. Silica has always been a prime target of these suits. Within its own factory, safety is intense. Workers aren't allowed on the floor without respirators (nor me, for that matter). Much of the plant has been automated to minimize contact with dust, and vacuums suck up particles. Plastered on every door leading into the plant, and on every bag of silica going out, are giant, neon warnings about the dangers of dust.

The company has nonetheless been militant in defending against lawsuits. This is Mr. Ulizio's history and specialty, having represented silica defendants prior to joining the company in 1991, and then handling U.S. Silica's litigation as its counsel. Says Mr. Ulizio: "There was a decision made here early on, and it was the right decision, that as a sand seller we have no duty to warn, say, the people who work in a foundry. Why? Because foundries . . . know all about silicosis -- there are documents showing that going back to the teens and '20s -- and foundries are the ones who create silica dust or control silica dust, and we have no control over that operation."

Over decades of litigation, the company picked its suits carefully, with an eye to setting broad legal precedents in key jurisdictions. It fought off successive waves of litigati

2009年5月5日 星期二

Fiat boss commits to Opel plants in Germany ?

Auto Industry | 05.05.2009

Fiat boss commits to Opel plants in Germany

The head of Italian automaker Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, has said in an interview he wants to keep open all four Opel plants in Germany after a possible takeover of the struggling carmaker.

In an interview published in the Tuesday edition of the Bild newspaper, Marchionne said he wanted to hold on to all of the four Opel plants in Germany but that job cuts may be inevitable.

"We don't want to close any of the four Opel plants in Germany. I need these plants in the future to build sufficient numbers of cars," Marchionne told the paper. "But of course the work force will have to be cut. Nobody can change that," the Fiat CEO said.

Fiat drums up support

Marchionne's comments come a day after meeting Germany's Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Chancellor Angela Merkel in separate meetings in Berlin.

Logos of Fiat and OpelBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Fiat is angling to create a global carmaker that could rival Toyota and Volkswagen

Fiat is stepping up efforts to win support for its plan to take over General Motors' struggling European business which includes Britain's Vauxhall, Sweden's Saab and Germany's Opel. Separately, Fiat is also trying to take over some of Chrysler, the US carmaker that has applied for bankruptcy protection.

Marchionne's plan is to merge the two to create a new global auto giant that would be around the same size as Germany's Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker.

Germany's Opel forms the core of GM's European operations, and Marchionne needs the approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government in Berlin for any deal to go through - something that Marchionne wants within 30 days.

Competing offer

German media have reported Berlin is more eager to see an offer from Magna, an Austrian-Canadian car parts manufacturer.

Magna founder and chairman Frank Stronach told the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that he was seeking a stake of less that 20 percent of Opel, not a controlling stake.

Magna, Stronach said, would need to act with other partners, that he would not identify. The Globe and Mail wrote that some sources have said these partners include OAO Gaz, a Russian carmaker, and a partially state-owned Russian bank.

Marchionne also suspects Russian partners and predicts this will sway the German government toward Fiat.

"Magna wants to take on Opel with Russian help. If the German government thinks that's a good solution, I'll be surprised," he said.

Germany remains skeptical of Fiat

A worker at the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, GermanyBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Opel workers aren't impressed by Fiat's offer

Germany's Economics Minister Guttenberg has called Marchionne's plan "an interesting concept" but said the German government would need to take time before reaching any conclusions. Guttenberg also said he remained open to bids from other investors.

Opel's works council and Germany's powerful trade unions have also voiced skepticism about a possible Fiat takeover. Opel employs nearly 26,000 in Germany.

But Marchionne told Bild that Opel's financial woes had left the carmaker with little choice.

"Opel can never make money given its current size. And if you can't make money, you can't survive," Marchionne said. "I understand the unions' fears - but this is reality."

2009年5月4日 星期一

As Giants Step In, Asustek Defends A Tiny PC

2009年 05月 04日 13:05
As Giants Step In, Asustek Defends A Tiny PC

After upending the personal computer industry just over a year ago with a stripped-down laptop, Asustek Computer Inc. is now scrambling to fight back against encroaching competitors.

The Taiwan-based computer maker has seen its profit collapse in recent quarters. Its troubles are partly due to the global economic slowdown, but Asustek is also facing a problem familiar to many small companies that hit it big: how to sustain the success over the long haul.

Asustek is promising a raft of new products in coming months, including smart phones developed with Global Positioning System specialist Garmin International Inc. and its first low-cost computer using Google Inc.'s Android software, an operating system designed for cellphones.

The expansion comes as much bigger companies have begun to profit from an insight that Asustek founder and Chairman Jonney Shih had a couple of years ago: that many consumers don't need all of the computing power in a typical laptop.

Asustek in late 2007 launched the first so-called netbook, a simple, light-weight, portable computer that cost less than $250. At first dismissed by major computer makers as a toy, the Eee PC proved surprisingly popular, creating the first new category of PCs since the rise of notebooks in the 1990s.

Research firm Gartner estimates that world-wide shipments of netbooks will surge by 50%, to 7.8 million units in 2009, while overall computer sales are expected to decline. The success of the Eee PC, which has sold 6.1 million units so far, has powered Asustek to fifth place globally among notebook makers.

Now, almost every PC maker in the world is selling netbooks, including Asustek's Taiwanese rival Acer Inc. as well as giants Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. Last week, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. announced it aims to sell five million netbooks this year, up from two million last year. That's forcing Asustek to show that it's more than a one-hit wonder.

'In order to remain competitive in the market, they'll need to move beyond netbooks and do so relatively soon,' said George Schiffler, an analyst at Gartner.

On Thursday, Asustek reported profit fell 94% to $13.7 million during the first quarter after posting a loss in the fourth quarter. Quarterly sales fell 27%.

Inside Asustek's new headquarters on the outskirts of Taiwan's capital, Mr. Shih said Asustek is well-positioned because of its focus on innovation and not just low-cost production. Bustling with foreign engineers and talent from Taiwan's top schools, the company is a testament to how Taiwan has transformed itself from a maker of products for other countries' big brands to home of several of its own global brands.

Asustek started in 1989, when Mr. Shih and other top engineers left Acer and began building motherboards, the cards that hold microprocessors and other electronics in PCs. It remained a component supplier until 1997, when it launched its first Asus branded notebook.

It sold only three units in the first month, but the company persisted in developing its brand. Now, 70% of revenue comes from its own branded products.

'An important concept in branding is being the first -- everybody thinks of Xerox when copy machines are mentioned,' Mr. Shih said. 'We still think innovation is a crucial strength of Asus.'

The Eee was born of similar thinking. Although the idea seems simple -- strip down a laptop and keep the price low -- Mr. Shih said the company spent time trying to make sure it did many of the things consumers wanted. The machine starts quickly, it easily connects to the Internet and the battery lasts a long time.

'They showed that they could break the PC industry's typical cycle of having to produce something that was always better and faster,' said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at tech research company IDC. 'And instead they focused on creating something that was more affordable and more portable.'

But sometimes that innovative spirit has been a detriment. Last year, Asustek issued a new version of its Eee on average every six weeks, which analysts said confused consumers.

'We might have offered too many models because of our competitive engineering culture,' Mr. Shih said, adding that the company won't repeat this mistake. This year, Asustek plans to release three new versions.

Part of the reason for the flood of models was to correct an early misstep. The company's initial netbooks had small keyboards and no hard drives. To a degree this was the point -- the computer was meant to be ultra-portable and light -- but Asustek soon noticed that consumers preferred full-sized keyboards.

Although Acer entered the netbook market in mid-2008 about six months after Asustek, it has leapfrogged its rival. By March of this year, Acer shipped 38% of all netbooks, versus 30% for Asustek, according to research firm DisplaySearch.

'Asus enjoys strong advantages in innovation,' said Acer founder Stan Shih. 'But the brand hasn't been around long enough yet' to be a real global power.

Asustek CEO Jonney Shih (no relation) disagrees. Besides the new smart phone and Android netbook due out this year, he said Asustek is also looking to offer products like video phones and other electronics for the home.

Competitors might take a bite out of Asustek's netbooks, but the company has new hits lined up, he said, 'we can't forget that there are people running after us.'

Ting-I Tsai / Ian Johnson
年多以前﹐華碩電腦有限公司(Asustek Computer Inc.)以一款低價筆記本電腦顛覆了個人電腦行業﹐如今該公司正在努力應對不斷迫近的競爭對手。


華碩表示將在未來數月推出一系列新產品﹐包括由全球定位系統(GPS)專業公司Garmin International Inc.研發的智能手機﹐以及該公司第一部使用谷歌(Google Inc.)手機操作系統Android的低成本電腦。


華碩於2007年底推出了第一款所謂的上網本﹐這款輕薄便攜的筆記本電腦易PC(Eee PC)售價不到250美元。易PC最初被主要電腦廠商譏笑是玩具﹐但這款低價電腦卻出人意料地熱賣﹐創造了自上世紀九十年代筆記本電腦崛起以來第一個新的電腦類型。


現 在﹐幾乎全球每家個人電腦廠商都在銷售上網本﹐包括華碩的台灣競爭對手宏碁股份有限公司(Acer Inc.)﹐以及行業巨頭惠普公司(Hewlett-Packard)和戴爾公司(Dell Inc.)。4月下旬﹐韓國三星電子(Samsung Electronics Co.)宣佈計劃今年銷售500萬部上網本﹐去年銷量為200萬部。這種狀況正迫使華碩展現自己並不是曇花一現。

Gartner分析師舍弗勒(George Schiffler)說﹐為了在市場上維持競爭力﹐華碩需要在上網本以外下功夫﹐並且需要行事相對迅速。

Bloomberg News






科技研究公司國際數據公司(IDC)分析師奧多耐爾(Bob O'Donnell)說﹐華碩顯示出他們能夠打破個人電腦行業必須製造更好更快產品的傳統週期。他們轉而注重於創造一些更便攜更經濟的產品。








Ting-I Tsai / Ian Johnson