BlackBerry back to keyboards
BlackBerry Ltd, which struggled to entice customers with touch screen models last year, plans to return its focus to keyboard-equipped phones under chief executive officer John Chen (程守宗). “I personally love the keyboards,” Chen said on Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Jon Erlichman at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the future, the company’s phones will “predominantly” have physical keyboards, he said, rather than touch screens. BlackBerry also announced the hiring of former HTC Corp (宏達電) and Sony Ericsson executive Ron Louks to run its devices business.
Intel to use ‘moral minerals’
Intel Corp has announced that all the processors it makes this year will use minerals that do not hail from mines held by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the first major US technology company to make the move, which is the fruit of four years of work by Intel to determine the sources of four crucial metals widely used in electronics manufacturing: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. The east of the African country is rich in minerals and other economic activity in the area has been disrupted by nearly two decades of fighting between the government, rogue soldiers and different ethnic groups.
Nissan to build Brazil plant
Auto giant Nissan Motor Co is planning to build an engine plant at its industrial complex in Resende in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro State, Renault-Nissan Alliance chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on Monday. “It is the first time that I’ve visited the plant, which will build the Nissan March and Nissan Versa models,” he told reporters at the complex 140km west of Rio. He said the factory is to be inaugurated in the first half of this year. The project, which required US$60 million in investment, is expected to churn out 200,000 four-cylinder 1.6 flexfuel engines a year and create 200 direct jobs, Ghosn said.
HK property deals plummet
The number of properties sold in Hong Kong fell by more than one-third last year to a 17-year low, as a surge in sales tax designed to burst a price bubble turned off buyers in one of the world’s most expensive property markets. Despite steep discounts offered by influential property developers, the total number of sale and purchase agreements concluded last year was 70,503, down 39 percent from 2012, according to the Hong Kong Land Registry. The value of deals also dropped, dipping 30 percent from a year earlier to HK$456 billion (US$59 billion). Forecasters expect the downturn to continue this year.
US service firms grow slowly
US service companies expanded at a steady, but slightly slower, pace last month as sales dipped and new orders plunged to a four-year low. The report suggests that US economic growth may remain modest in the coming months. The Institute for Supply Management on Monday said that its service sector index fell to 53 last month, down from 53.9 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. A measure of new orders plummeted 7 points to 49.4, the first time it has dropped below 50 since July 2009. A gauge of business stockpiles also fell sharply, but a gauge of hiring increased 3.3 points to 55.8, evidence that services firms are adding more jobs.