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IT Channel News Briefs, Dec. 5

Today's headlines: AT&T cuts 12,000 more jobs, and Microsoft hires a new online boss.

Information technology (IT) channel news in brief for Friday, Dec. 5, 2008.

AT&T slashes jobs

AT&T announced Thursday it would cut 12,000 jobs, or about 4% of its workforce, to withstand the recession and to battle shrinking use of traditional phone systems. AT&T also said it would cut capital spending in 2009, but it hasn't finalized spending plans. Details are expected to be released in January, according to Reuters. AT&T already announced a 4,600-job reduction in April and has long been under intense economic pressure, as throngs of customers ditch their landlines for mobile phones and cheaper Internet-based voice services.

Microsoft hires new online executive

Microsoft yesterday named former Yahoo executive Qi Lu to head its Online Services Group (OSG). Lu, who had been executive vice president of engineering for Yahoo's search and advertising technology, will start as president of Microsoft's closely watched OSG early next year.

Brian McAndrews, who came to Microsoft with its aQuantive acquisition and was senior vice president of the company's advertiser and publisher solutions group, is leaving the company, but he will stay on as a consultant to Lu and CEO Steve Ballmer. Lu will oversee the aforementioned advertiser and publisher solutions business, as well as OSG research and development and OSG finance.

Smartphone sales slow way down

Even as companies release new high-end smartphones each month, sales of the handheld computer-like devices falter. Research firm Gartner said Thursday that growth in smartphone sales is expected to slow 18% overall this year. In the third quarter, there was an 11.5% increase in sales from the same period last year, but that number is down from the 15.7% growth seen in the second quarter.

On the bright side, Gartner expects sales to surge next year, growing by about 30% to 35%. Gartner also said the cause for the slowdown in sales may not be the actual hardware, which is often subsidized by mobile operators. Instead, consumers feel the pressure from the high-priced monthly data plans that accompany the devices. In North America, Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone made up about 70% of the market, with RIM in the lead.

Report: Former AOL exec eyes Yahoo buy

Hope springs eternal for battered Yahoo shareholders who have latched onto a Wall Street Journal report that former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller hopes to raise money to buy the Internet search company. Citing unnamed sources, the story said that Miller, who stepped down as AOL CEO two years ago, is trying to get financing for a $20- to $22-per-share bid on Yahoo. That would value the company at $28 billion to $30 billion. At one point, Yahoo shares leapt 7%, or 76 cents, to close Wednesday at $11.50. The stock closed Thursday night at $11.05.

Check out yesterday's IT channel news briefs.

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