Microsoft's 5,000 laid-off employees are being joined by thousands more, this time from Texas Instruments, Sprint Nextel, Philips, Intel and tech giant IBM. The fact that Big Blue itself is shedding jobs is an indicator of just how tricky the current economic situation is for the industry.
Sprint Nextel is taking an even more dramatic move by taking "actions to reduce labor costs by about $1.2 billion" which means it's going to cut 8,000 jobs. This is a move to make the company's "cost structure more competitive in the industry and to remain financially secure in a challenging economic environment."
Texas Instruments posted a 95% drop in profits—from close to $1 billion in Q4 last year to only $55 million this year—and responded by slashing around 3,400 jobs.
Philips reported its first quarterly loss ever, and announced it would be losing around 6,000 workers. The company's statement explains why: "Our fourth-quarter results confirm the expectation we expressed in early December that the short term economic outlook is worsening and that 2009 is likely to be a very challenging year."
Intel announced it would lay off between 2,000 and 3,000 people as it closes two US-based production plants, and rival chip-maker AMD said it would be shedding some 1,100 employees through natural wastage and layoffs, as well as cutting executives salaries in light of a $1.4 billion loss.
And while IBM has hired around 20,000 extra people this year (with close to 400,000 people employed world-wide), the company is now shedding 2,800 jobs. Along with the thousands of high-tech jobs being lost at Motorola, Google and Seagate, it does seem the tech jobocalypse is definitively here.
But not all companies are predicting a gloomy future. Sony, suffering its own economic woes, has acknowledged that it needs to address its product line-up, and make the technologies "seamlessly" interact with each other, as well as being "green." At his CES keynote, the Chief Exec Sir Howard Stringer said: "Products must be multi-functional and interconnected," and that could be a sign that consumers will finally get more closely integrated hardware from Sony, which is famous for ignoring industry standards in favor of its proprietary technologies.
Canon Japan is taking an even more unusual step amid the global meltdown. The company has seen fit to start a new program: The repopulation of Japan. Japan is in danger of population decline and is suffering a rapidly aging population, and Canon is now sending its employees home early twice a week to sort this out. The extra time off is so that Canon staff can get busy making new babies, instead of working the punishing traditional 12-hour days, which the company obviously sees as contributing to the population problem.
Great to see that at least a few tech giants are thinking (pro)creatively about the future.