Summit Notebook

Say what? I could have had me a download on my old Nokia?

May 19, 2009
At least 100 million users of Nokia smartphones have been kept in the dark about opportunities to download software applications years before Apple launched its AppStore, says Lee Williams, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. ”It’s actually probably one of the biggest marketing mistakes… certainly in the mobile industry, for as long as I can remember,” Williams said at the Reuters Technology Summit.  “Somewhere between 100 and 125 million units have shipped with that capability. There’s been a download facility in 100-125 million phones,” he said.  And who’s ever spoken about it? Does anybody know it’s there?… Maybe 10 percent have ever even loaded a third-party application onto their product.” So is Apple getting credit for other people’s work? “Absolutely. I was laughing out loud when I saw the iPhone OS3 launch,” Williams said, adding that what was tagged as the world’s most advanced mobile OS (operating system) features, Symbian had had for 3-5 years.

Williams did credit Apple with one thing — a knack for design:  ”They pioneered new ground by taking this beautiful display size and doing a display-only product. That was pioneering”.  Symbian software is used in about two-thirds of all smartphones but of course not in the hugely popular Apple iPhone.

No gadgets please, we’re tech executives!

May 18, 2009

Tech managers are not just savvy about new technology but also own the coolest, most cutting edge gadgets, right? Think again, some of them have no use for gadgets at all, finding pleasure instead in century old paintings and (gasp) pen and paper.

CEO hails motorcycle to make it to Reuters Summit on time

May 18, 2009

Alain Dutheil, CEO of  mobile chipmaker  ST-Ericsson,  is not a man easily deterred when he wants to get somewhere.

Rollercoaster ride may be over, Ortiz says

May 8, 2009

                                          But we still have the bumper cars…
   Mexico’s central bank Gov. Guillermo Ortiz thinks the world economic crisis is probably past the worst but warned growth in the third quarter could contract on an annual basis.
    Speaking at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit, Ortiz — who also fronts the Bank for International Settlements — said there is a growing sensation that the crisis may have bottomed. Inflation in Mexico is likely to decline, helped by lower demand and the peso stopping its free fall against the dollar. 
 Two types of market interventions since October, where the government sold dollars to ease pressure on the exchange rate, have managed to pull back the peso to levels of just above 13 per greenback, a gain of about 19 percent from its March all-time low.
    Ortiz also said the central bank is touching base with key market players to evaluate if a second auction of short-term dollar credits, aimed at triggering lending to companies once again, is needed.

A bad case of pneumonia for the Mexican economy

May 8, 2009

                                       At the beginning of 2009, as Mexico felt the pinch of the U.S. meltdown, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said the country’s economy was much better prepared than before to resist slowing business from its northern neighbor, where it ships about 80 percent of exports. 
    Asked about the possible effects of the U.S. recession in Mexico, he candidly anticipated in a TV interview in February the economy would only “catch a little cold instead of a pneumonia.”
    The phrase has haunted him ever since as mounting bad news — unemployment, inflation, industrial activity — show Mexico is not immune to the U.S. crisis.
    With Mexico officially in recession — GDP contracted 1.6 percent in the first quarter versus the same period of 2008 and could fall further in the current quarter — Carstens now thinks the economy may not grow again until the first quarter of 2010.
    In an affable chat with Reuters during the Latin American Investment Summit, Carstens also talked about measures taken to keep the peso from weakening further against the dollar but shied away from saying if, or when, daily dollar sales could stop.

Mexican retailer Soriana bets for brighter 2010

May 7, 2009

 High unemployment rates, declining remittances from Mexicans living abroad, an economic slowdown and contracting consumption is not boding well for Mexican retailers. This year is no exception as the country’s leading supermarket chains struggle to keep customers happy, offering anything from stamps to buy German cuttlery sets to cooking classes for housewives pulling their hair wondering what to prepare for lunch next. 
    Monterrey-based Soriana, Mexico’s No. 2 retailer, knows a thing or two about sailing in choppy waters. After an ambitious acquisition of 200 stores from a smaller rival in 2007, which boosted its presence across the country, the company faced tight liquidity to meet debt payments last year.
    But Soriana has moved fast to cut costs and lighten the weight to face more hard times in 2009. Chief Financial Officer Aurelio Adan told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit that Soriana’s same-store sales will be flat this year but it will generate enough cash flow to cut its debt by over 20 percent.
    Adan expects to turn the page in 2010 and resume Soriana’s strong growth with the opening of 40 stores.

AUDIO – Wait a minute, we have to pay for all this stuff?

May 7, 2009

Unfortunately, we do.

All the infrastructure projects in the world sound great! They look awesome on paper, they’ll make people’s lives better and they’ll let us go visit our friends and families in about half the time it used to take.

AUDIO – Everything has a cost

May 6, 2009

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Or bridge. Or turnpike.

Every project we’re talking about at Reuters first-ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit has an enormous cost — sometimes in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And governments are looking for ways to pay for it all.

AUDIO – Finding a model; then build, baby, build!

May 6, 2009

Infrastructure spending. Public-private partnerships. Government buildouts.

This week, all of these kinds of phrases are much on the mind of our guests at the first ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit held in New York, San Francisco and Washington.

Bair: Resolution. Authority. Now.

April 24, 2009

    Congress needs to get off the dime and create a resolution authority that would break down failed institutions in an orderly manner, since the lack of such an authority is driving policy decisions,  according to Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
    Speaking at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington,  Bair said that gap has fed into the too-big-to fail presumption and created a dilution in market discipline for those who invest and extend credit to very large institutions.
    “We think Congress should give a very high priority to providing a resolution mechanism for very large organizations, Bair said. “The lack of this mechanism is driving policy choices right now.”