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The Death Knell? BlackBerry Will Lay Off 40 Percent Of Employees

The struggling Canadian company will fire as many as 5000 employees in an attempt to bring costs under control

2 min read
The Death Knell? BlackBerry Will Lay Off 40 Percent Of Employees

In an effort to control spending as losses mount, Blackberry is planning to let go as many as 5000 employees by the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal. BlackBerry had 12 700 employees as of March, following a 5000-person round of layoffs in 2012 and smaller layoffs to begin this year.

BlackBerry's decline has been stark. The company, which boasted a 19.5-percent global smartphone market share in 2008, saw it dip below 9 percent by the end of 2011. It now has around 2.4 percent worldwide. Those losses are reflected in its financials. The handset maker lost US $84 million in the second quarter of this year. The company will release third quarter earnings next week.

With its fortunes spiraling downward, BlackBerry's foray into the tablet market with the PlayBook seems to be over. And though its most recent OS, BlackBerry 10, runs on the Z10 and Q10 handsets, the company only sold 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 devices in the second quarter. (For comparison, Apple's iPhone, which currently has a 14 percent worldwide market share, sold 31.2 million units over the same time period.)

The Wall Street Journal's article about layoffs at the company went live only hours after BlackBerry announced an updated handset, the Z30, running its BlackBerry 10 OS. Since August, if not before, it has been clear that BlackBerry is looking to be acquired as one solution to its woes. This round of layoffs is just another indicator that the company cannot regain traction in any meaningful way without a total ideological and financial overhaul. A few years ago BlackBerry had enough devotees that if it had been able to keep pace with Apple, Android and other upcoming rivals, it could have held a loyal corner of the smartphone world. But BlackBerry put its faith in physical keyboards and essentially dated itself into obscurity. Good thing BBM is now on iOS and Android, because BlackBerry handsets may become an endangered species soon.

Photo: AP Photo

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
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Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
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Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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