These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
BlackBerry fires back
BlackBerry Ltd. says it’s “outraged” by a T-Mobile US Inc. offer aimed at luring some of its customers to the rival iPhone.
BlackBerry’s new chief executive officer, John Chen, was referring to T-Mobile’s attempt to get some of its users to switch smartphones, a move that backfired and sent the wireless carrier scrambling to make good.
Indeed, T-Mobile chief executive officer John Legere told BlackBerry users via Twitter that “I’m hearing you loud and clear,” and that he was working with his team to get things right after some of his customers received e-mails suggesting they move to Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5.
That was two days ago, but it wasn’t the end.
“We give our customers choices, but you don’t have to give up your #loyalty,” Mr. Legere said in another tweet yesterday.
Today, however, BlackBerry CEO John Chen, still clearly incensed, thanks his “loyal customers” for responding to T-Mobile, which he said sent a “powerful message” that the carrier couldn’t ignore.
Mr. Chen didn’t identify the “competitor’s smartphone,” but reports from the U.S. said it was the iPhone 5. According to Reuters, T-Mobile’s e-mails suggested that free iPhone 5 models made for a “great offer BlackBerry customers.”
“I can only guess that T-Mobile thought its ‘great offer for BlackBerry customers’ would be well received,” Mr. Chen said today on the BlackBerry blog.
“T-Mobile could not have been more wrong … I can assure that we are outraged, too. What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.”
Mr. Chen, who is attempting a turnaround at the struggling smartphone maker, dug the knife in deeper, reminding T-Mobile that “our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for BlackBerry and T-Mobile."
In a statement, T-Mobile didn't directly comment on what happened but said it will "begin offering free expedited shipping of BlackBerry devices by Friday" and that "we are happy to be a BlackBerry partner and apologize for any confusion.”
King going public
King Digital Entertainment PLC, better known as the maker of the Candy Crush Saga game, is going public.
The company filed regulatory documents today saying it planned to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
“Our mission is to provide highly engaging content to our audience to match their mobile lifestyles: anywhere, anytime and on any device,” said the company, also producer of Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and Papa Bear Saga.
“In December 2013, an average of 128 million daily active users played our games more than 1.2 billion times per day,” it added.
“In the fourth quarter of 2013, 73 per cent of our gross bookings were derived from our mobile audience.”
Actavis strikes deal for Forest Labs
Ireland’s Actavis PLC has struck a $25-billion (U.S.) deal for Forest Laboratories Inc. that the stwo say will create a company with annual sales of some $15-billion.
Actavis and Forest Labs unveiled a cash-and-stock bid they valued at $89.48 a share, or $26.04 in cash and 0.3306 of an Activis share.
“With this strategic combination, we create an innovative new model in specialty pharmaceuticals leadership, with size and scale, a balanced offering of strong brands and generics, a focus on strategic, lower-risk drug development, and – most important – the ability to drive sustainable organic growth,” said Actavis chief executive officer Paul Bisaro.
Actavis is a generic pharmaceutical company, and Forest Labs one that focuses on branded products.
The 'everyday sadist'
Internet “trolls” appear to have some extreme personality issues, based on the results of a new study.
They show signs of being sadistic and Machiavellian, says the recent study by Erin Buckels, a University of Manitoba psychology graduate student, and psych professors Paul Trapnell of the University of Winnipeg and Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia.
“Much like the Joker, trolls operate as agents of chaos on the Internet, exploiting ‘hot-button issues’ to make users appear overly emotional or foolish in some manner,” they wrote.
The researchers described trolling, or commenting online, as the “practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet, with no apparent instrumental purpose.”
And what they found via two studies were “similar patterns of relations” between trolling and what’s known as the “Dark Tetrad” of personality, which includes, among other things, sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism,” based on enjoyment ratings and identity scores.
Sadism showed the “most robust” association with trolling.
“Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism,” they wrote.
“Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.”
It’s worth noting for those unsuspecting types that trolls ramp up the pressure “for further, merciless amusement” when they ensnare someone.
“Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!” the study’s authors said.
“The Internet is an anonymous environment where it is easy to seek out and explore one’s niche, however idiosyncratic. Consequently, antisocial individuals have greater opportunities to connect with similar others, and to pursue their personal brand of ‘self expression’ than they did before the advent of the Internet.”
Gold demand slumps
Demand for gold may be slumping, but don’t tell the Chinese that.
China has become the world’s largest gold market, according to the World Gold Council’s look at 2013, which shows demand surging among consumers but sinking among exchange-traded funds.
Demand for gold slumped 15 per cent last year, to 3,756 tonnes, the group said today, as the average price sank by a similar percentage to $1,411 (U.S.) an ounce.
Sales among consumers climbed 21 per cent, but the market saw an ETF exodus to the tune of 881 tonnes.
U.S. borrowing climbs
Americans appear to be taking a page from their northern neighbours.
Household debt in the United States increased in the fourth quarter of last year at the fastest pace since before the recession, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said today.
That gain of $241-billion (U.S.), the biggest since the third quarter of 2007, was driven by a 1.9-per-cent increase in mortgage debt.
The total debt of American families, though, at $11.5-trillion, is still about 9 per cent below the peak in the third quarter of 2008, as the financial crisis was just beginning.
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