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The Press Releases of the Damned 176

Posted by timothy
from the synthesize-best-practices dept.
Harry writes "Once upon a time, Microsoft said that Windows Vista would transform life as we knew it. Palm said its Foleo was a breakthrough. Circuit City said firing its most experienced salespeople would save the company. And Apple said that Web apps were all that iPhone owners needed. I've collected the original press releases for these and other ill-fated tech announcements, and annotated them with the facts as they played out in the real world."
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The Press Releases of the Damned

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  • Not worth reading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:10AM (#29104463)
    The stupid "article" is spread over 8 pages. Slashdot should have some standards for posted articles... and no, I'm not new here.
    • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:16AM (#29104521) Journal

      and no, I'm not new here.

      Well obviously. "Anonymous Coward" has been here since the very beginning and has an even lower UID than CmdrTaco ;)

      I'll save everybody the trouble and just link to the only one [technologizer.com] that's remotely interesting. The AOL-Time Warner merger. How'd that work out again? I stopped getting three AOL CDs/disks a week so they must have done something right ;)

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:24AM (#29104617) Journal
        The AOL/Time Warner thing was a colossal fuckup; but I have to hand it to the guys on the AOL side.

        AOL, purveyor of overpriced, under-performing dialup access and horrendous software to complete morons, managed to (just as it was becoming abundantly clear that dialup was doomed and that the internet at large was superior to the walled garden) convince Time Warner, a company with some actual hope, that they were worth an amazing amount of money.
        • by Verdatum (1257828) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:04AM (#29105095)
          What the heck is AOL?
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by REggert (823158)

            You're kidding, right?

            Just in case you live in a cave, AOL = America Online, the #1 ISP of people who don't know better.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aol [wikipedia.org]

          • Re:Not worth reading (Score:5, Interesting)

            by el_gordo101 (643167) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:03PM (#29106745)
            Originally, they were a distributor of 3.5" floppies that could be re-formatted and re-used. They changed their business model when floppies fell out of favor and CDs became popular. It was then that they became the #1 polluter in the US by distributing millions of useless shiny plastic coasters to every man, woman, and child in the country, overwhelming landfills across the nation.
            • Originally, they were a distributor of 3.5" floppies that could be re-formatted and re-used. They changed their business model when floppies fell out of favor and CDs became popular...became the #1 polluter in the US by distributing millions of useless shiny plastic coasters...

              Hey, they didn't become totally worthless then. Those tin containers containing those coasters are the best thing yet to reuse when putting your own precious CD/DVDs into the trunks of the elephants employed by the U.S. Snail Service

          • Re:Not worth reading (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:12PM (#29106855) Homepage Journal

            What the heck is AOL?

            The first major brand of malware. I worked tech support at an ISP in the late 90s, and occasionally you'd get a call from someone whose computer would no longer dial in. When pressed, they'd admit that they tried out "that AOL disk I got in the mail / found on the mall floor / found under my windshield wiper", and we'd sigh and tell them to find their Windows installation disk. There was no known way of uninstalling that junk other than by reinstalling Windows.

            A few stalwart customers would insist on re-trying the experiment every six months or so to see if the situation had improved, that is, whether the inferior dialup software to a substandard provider had suddenly stopped horking systems. It hadn't. We'd tell them that it was reinstall time again, they'd cuss, then we'd be good for another half year.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by methano (519830)
          This is exactly right. A lot of people hoot on Steve Case over this deal. I think it was a genius move on his part as explained above. I did the math back when it happened and AOL was valued at around $7K per US household. It would take a long time to get that kind of money back. It was a disastrous deal on TW's part. Overall it was a bad deal because TW was twice as stupid as Case and company were smart.
        • by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:41AM (#29105611) Homepage Journal
          If you are comparing AOL to the internet and modern ISPs, then you are completely correct.

          The thing with AOL is that it was around *before* the internet and those other ISPs. AOL came around in the age of the BBS.
          Everything was dial-up. Mail was tossed and copied around node to node. It was almost all local due to phone charges. What AOL did was make a national BBS, and put in local dial-up access points in most local calling areas. It was bigger than any other BBS of the time. It offered mail to any other AOL user, and mail bridges to most other networks (like compuserv). They had a GUI when everyone else was text based. You can't call them stupid for being the biggest provider in their market. Their problem was that the market changed.

          When the internet finally did grow up, AOL was already big. The problem is that the internet changed the online equation. Access became commodity. AOL had to rely on content. (That's why the TW deal). But eventually, the internet had more content too. So AOL is a leftover giant.

          I guess we could just expect them to rollover and die because they are outdated. But it's funny how many people don't want to do that, regardless of how outdated they are.

          • Re:Not worth reading (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Bat Country (829565) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:02AM (#29105897) Homepage

            Don't forget Compuserve [wikipedia.org] who was the granddaddy of AOL and modern ISPs and the first to bring nationwide dial-up home computer network access to American families.

            I actually pulled the first open source program I ever used from a friend's dad's Compuserve after reading about it in a catalog listing from one of those generic BBS file collection CDs they used to sell.

            • Dig deeper, you will find Apple Link.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applelink [wikipedia.org]

              Apple history after Steve Jobs left is more like the history of wasted opportunities. Combine Applelink with Hypercard which its pointer is still used as link mouse pointer today, you will get grandfather www.

              Of course, if you look at that service, it needed actual mainframes to run.

          • by sdpuppy (898535)
            From what I remember, FWIW, AOL was also the first BBS that was Mac-friendly. Compuserve, Prodigy etal mostly supposed DOS.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by cstacy (534252)

            If you are comparing AOL to the internet and modern ISPs, then you are completely correct. The thing with AOL is that it was around *before* the internet and those other ISPs. AOL came around in the age of the BBS.

            AOL was actually a latecomer to the scene. BBSing was popular for about 10 years before AOL. And there were a number of commercial consumer dialup information/chat/email services similar to AOL that started around then. CompuServe and The Source were both about 10 or 11 years older than AOL. Another was Prodigy, about 4 years older than AOL. The Internet predated AOL by about 7 years (or many more years than that, depending on exactly what you want to count). But the Internet was not widely available to

          • Re:Not worth reading (Score:4, Interesting)

            by sjames (1099) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @01:31PM (#29108209) Homepage

            AOL came along on the tail end of the BBS era. The internet was already going strong at universities and was getting off the ground for home dial-up accounts. They were the guy that shows up ready to party just as the hosts are getting ready for bed. Their business plan was practically expired before they launched.

            For years after, they pressed forward with their walled garden and hourly rates in the face of flat fee dialup internet counting on an overwhelming flood of marketing to overcome fundamental shortcomings in their product. Their customers mostly consisted of people who had never heard of the Internet and those who finally gave up after repeated attempts to cancel their account.

            Their marketing became so strident by the end, they were actually offering more free hours than existed in a month to get people to sign up and depending on making cancellation a bureaucratic near-impossibility to stay afloat. They were stupid to believe that a crazy huge marketing campaign could keep a fundamentally flawed service alive forever.

            In the process they made themselves synonymous with anything and everything that wasn't good about the Internet (including spam for quite a while). Their one and only real value (as "the free blank floppy of the month club") went away when they switched to sending CDROMS. Let's face it, once you have 4-6 of those, you just don't need any more coasters.

            The only reason they were expected to roll over and die is because they had already made it clear they were unable or unwilling to offer what the customer wanted to buy.

            Their crowning achievement was convincing TW (somehow) that they were worth $7000/U.S. household.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Shakrai (717556)

              They were stupid to believe that a crazy huge marketing campaign could keep a fundamentally flawed service alive forever.

              Why is that stupid? It works for the two major political parties in the United States. Why wouldn't it work for AOL? ;)

              Their crowning achievement was convincing TW (somehow) that they were worth $7000/U.S. household.

              You mean a service that charges $239.40 a year ($19.95/mo) for each subscriber isn't worth $7,000 per American household? All they'd have to do to make that much money is have zero expenses and sign up every single household for 30 years.

          • AOL released its first DOS version in 1991 and its first Windows version in 1992. So it started to become a major player in 1991, the Internet came into its own in 1994 (one could argue for 1992 or 1993). With the advent of the Internet for the masses, AOL became obsolete. However, it took most people several years to realize that they were paying a premium price to AOL for access to content that was available for much less.
        • AOL, purveyor of overpriced, under-performing dialup access and horrendous software to complete morons

          The geek is elitist.

          If you don't share his knowledge and values you are by definition sub-human - a moron.

          AOL introduced flat-rate monthly subscriptions at a mass market price - which defines Internet service to this day.

          AOL's software hid its complexities from the user.

          It stripped away the last vestiges of the BBS.

          It had a graphical UI, automatic updates. You didn't have to configure an e-mail account.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            AOL was overpriced crap for those too stupid to get themselves a bargain ISP.

            It wasn't terribly innovative either. It was an incremental improvement over
            what came before it and was similar to other BBS era uber-BBS services.

            What ensured that the web would not be a "geek only playground" are the "elitist
            geeks" that created the web browser in the first place. As soon as that happened,
            AOL was pretty much pointless.

            It's not "elitist" to be able to comparison shop or to criticize those that are
            too lazy to bother

      • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:09AM (#29105199)
        The AOL/TW merger could and should have been a massive success. AOL was at the time THE premium content delivery network, and Time Warner has scads of content in print, music, video, TV - just the sort of thing people might pay to see. AOL was just starting broadband and Time Warner had the infrastructure. It really could have lead to a service where you got content and broadband all for some fairly reasonable price. But back to reality... AOL were supremely arrogant and didn't know innovation if it bit them on the ass (witness how they handled Netscape & Nullsoft). And Time Warner were an old school media conglomerate terrified of the internet. Neither side had a clue how to work "synergies" and the whole lot just collapsed in a heap. I'm sure Steve Case made a mint, but the whole deal was a disaster from the get go.
        • by Machtyn (759119)
          Add to that, AOL's business model was falling apart. They could no longer charge per hour. Content on the wild Interwebs was catching up to AOL, yet AOL continued to charge premium prices to content providers (using keywords and such). Those content providers figured out it was much cheaper to slap a webpage up using their own servers (which is what they had to do anyway with AOL) without paying the AOL cost.

          Yes, it was a sad day when nullsoft sold out to AOL. Winamp was a great program. Shoutcast s
      • Re:Not worth reading (Score:4, Informative)

        by teslar (706653) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:34AM (#29105517)

        Well obviously. "Anonymous Coward" has been here since the very beginning and has an even lower UID than CmdrTaco ;)

        If I remember right, the AC has an (internal) UID of 666 - which would by higher than CmdrTaco's 1 :)

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Is it really? I've never bothered to look at slashcode. I just always assumed the UID was 0 for AC's. It's pretty funny if they defined it as 666 though.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          You remember right. If you directly go to UID #1 [slashdot.org], you get CmdrTaco [slashdot.org]. If you go directly to UID #666 [slashdot.org], you get "Anonymous Coward".

          And 1 < 666.
          • by sdpuppy (898535)

            And 1 Are you saying that evil is greater than the one???

            For small values of 1 .... and large values of 666?

      • by ari_j (90255)
        The really cool thing about this one is, at least as far as I can tell since I didn't bother checking any other than the one you linked to, every page is in fact an image. The AOL-Time Warner press release is 578x3201, for instance. That's the kind of thing that I believe Archimedes would have called "really fucking irritating."
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        I'm more interested in the "fire expensive people -> fail" cycle of Circuit City. My company is doing that right now (I imagine most are) and it's incredibly frustrating to deal with the leftover people.

        Everyone with brains is seeing this happen and jumping ship, so the number of smart people is dropping even more than they intended. End result is the company is dumber every day.

        I have a problem - who can figure out the answer? The smart guy who is at home looking for a job and couldn't care any less a

      • by Darinbob (1142669)
        Will the real Anonymous Coward please stand up? I suspect we have a lot of impersonators.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Normally I'd agree with you.

      But in this case, each page is for a separate example, and there's not excessive advertising splashed between the pages. For once, this layout seemed appropriate and very well done.

    • The only one moderately funny of those were the last. http://technologizer.com/2009/08/18/press-releases/8/ [technologizer.com]

    • Re:Not worth reading (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:48AM (#29104885)

      AutoPager [mozilla.org] for FireFox or
      Re-pagination [andreineculau.com]

      AutoPager requires 'plugin' scripts for sites (which there is one for technologizer). But it makes it look like one page.

      [header]
      page 1
      page 2
      page 3
      [footer]

      Re-pagination works on most sites I've tried it on (other than those damn Javascript "next" buttons). But it loads a copy of each of the pages.

      [header]
      page 1
      [footer]
      [header]
      page 2
      [footer]
      [header]
      page 3
      [footer]

    • by doomy (7461)

      Use autopager and adblock together.

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4925

    • The stupid "article" is spread over 8 pages. Slashdot should have some standards for posted articles... and no, I'm not new here.

      You're obviously new to the Power Point mentality and Twitter attention span.

  • Obligitory (Score:2, Funny)

    by vil3nr0b (930195)
    Duke Nukem Forever to be released Q4 2009.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:13AM (#29104479)

    Microsoft said that Windows Vista would transform life as we knew it.

    to a living hell!

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Only after Satan takes notes and makes his upgrades. Prior to that, a living hell will be an improvment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tomhudson (43916)

      That's because you don't have enough ram ... what Bill Gates REALLY said was "640 gigabytes should be enough for anyone!"

      Remember Weird Al's song about Windows 95 - "

      There's so much stuff to buy
      I need a new harddrive
      It's gonna suck me dry.
      My CPU says,
      'don't have the speed',
      it takes an hour just to bring up the screen

      Life imitates art. Microsoft is taking its' HID cues from Weird Al (which explains a lot :-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Remember Weird Al's song about Windows 95

        <pedantic>That wasn't Weird Al. He never made a parody of "Start Me Up" about Windows 95. Al's not the only guy who can write parodies, you know.</pedantic>

        <character type="Comic Book Store Guy">So please review your facts next time before you talk, ignoramus. Hmph.</character>

      • by Svippy (876087)

        Weird Al never wrote or song that song ("Windows 95 Sucks") [house.cx], that was Bob Rivers.

        Please, do us (especially Weird Al himself) all a favour and stop downloading your music from Limewire [wikipedia.org].

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Weird Al has addressed this himself.

          You're not exactly doing him any favors with a "legitimate" download either.

          The common swapper is an amateur compared to the RIAA.

    • by Sun.Jedi (1280674)

      Microsoft said that Windows Vista would transform life as we knew it.

      to a living hell!

      Quit your complaining. Microsoft transformed many (including many of YOU /.ers) to OSX and Linux.

  • by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:14AM (#29104491) Homepage

    ...that irrespective of the situation, press releases are never going to say "this sucks" or "this is completely unoriginal". A few of these are genuine oversights/lack of forward thinking (e.g. the iPhone app one) but the majority of them are standard marketing hyperbole that appears everywhere ("This cleaning product will TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE!").

    • press releases are never going to say "this sucks" or "this is completely unoriginal"

      No, but news stories arise out of press releases, and the news writer will often use as source for information the ... wait for it ... press release. The story, in turn, inspires more news stories, most of which are just like it. By the time the cycle ends, everyone is repeating the same truthiness. And in a busy overstressed world, who has time to be a critical consumer of news and distinguish between press release con

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:55AM (#29104963)

      ...that irrespective of the situation, press releases are never going to say "this sucks" or "this is completely unoriginal". A few of these are genuine oversights/lack of forward thinking (e.g. the iPhone app one) but the majority of them are standard marketing hyperbole that appears everywhere ("This cleaning product will TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE!").

      Life boils down to a question of whether people are talkin' the straight shit or just a line of bullshit. Bullshit pays more but the straight shit lets you look yourself in the mirror.

      The funny thing, people love the bullshit. They bullshit others, they bullshit themselves. It amazes me when someone does due diligence, get told something that's true but they don't like it. This big deal I'm salivating over, it's smarter to pass it up than get all my money tied up in it? Fuck you. What, you're saying my income can only support getting the fancy house and the car, not the house, the car, and the yacht? Fuck you twice-over, cocksucker.

      You get some exec with a grandiose plan, something that's really going to make his name, cement his reputation, there's no way of telling him it's just not that good of an idea. So any analyst who wants to remain employed will provide the analysis the boss wants to see, not what he needs to see. And this kind of warped, demented thinking will persist until objective reality makes itself known with all the subtlety of a ship foundering upon the rocky shore.

  • Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sheepweevil (1036936) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:15AM (#29104499) Homepage
    8 pages and no printer friendly version (that I can find)? This is why /.ers don't RTFA!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      On top of that, if you look at your noscript menu you can see that the multiple page layout is just an attempt to create more ad impressions. Eight pages of free ad credit for a one-page article? DO NOT WANT

      If only I didn't have to watch a fucking video tutorial to use autopager, I might have read his stupid article. But I still wouldn't click next seven times.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      needs jscript to view.

      forget it, then! anyone want to paste in the actual content? or, maybe even that isn't worth the time.

      slashvertisements just help authors get page hits. and that is NOT what slash is supposed to be about, guys..

  • I wonder. (Score:3, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:16AM (#29104513) Journal
    Are the flacks who write these sorts of releases embittered mercenaries who know they are puking shit into the public consciousness but just don't give a fuck, or are they bright eyed eternal optimists who actually think in PR language and sincerely believe each release as they write it(before, of course, believing something entirely different to write the next one)?
    • by timeOday (582209)

      Are the flacks who write these sorts of releases embittered mercenaries who know they are puking shit into the public consciousness... (etc)

      That's all awfully dramatic. I think they're just some people doing a job to make a living. Just like the company higher-ups for that matter. The truth is, predicting the future - let alone controlling it - is hard to do. Unintended consequences are the norm, not the exception. Still, people who try to take matters into their own hands and bend the future to their

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnalre (323830)

        Hands up all who thought at the time hmm, AOL and Time Warner, now that's a good idea. Equally ebay, skype, yes I can see the synergy there.

        OK sometimes someone sees something the rest of us can't and makes a billion, but its amazing how many times ideas that look really stupid to most of us are actually really stupid. Of course the people who pay for it are the common employee's who don't get asked their opinion.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I thought the AOL purchase of Time-Warner was a brilliant move on the part of AOL. It was their only chance of survival. I think it could have worked if Time-Warner's phobia about Internet distribution and piracy hadn't proceeded to infect AOL.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mabhatter654 (561290)

            AOL-TW was much like the more recent Daimler-Chrysler deal. Within 18-24 months the C Level execs that founded/grew AOL/Chrysler were on their ear run off the board. In AOL's case the idea of purchasing TW was to get exclusive content... to be someplace people PAID to go for exclusive media.. (sound familiar!!) but TW ran it's own sites and refused to play along, that demoted AOL to "advertising" only exclusives... which gutted it's base. Because they were "afraid" of publishing media they botched netscape

        • by timeOday (582209)

          OK sometimes someone sees something the rest of us can't and makes a billion, but its amazing how many times ideas that look really stupid to most of us are actually really stupid.

          Forgive me for over-generalizing a bit, but this is slashdot, most of us think everything is stupid. So we sit at our terminals and do our little IT jobs, draw a salary, and chuck rotten tomatoes at leaders of industry, science, and politics. And usually we're right. But occasionally we're wrong, and those are the occasions w

    • As someone that used to write form letters, a similar genre of writing, it sort of becomes an art in itself: how much sugar can stick to what's true without it becoming so saccharine nobody wants it? I don't know about others, but I did: a) give a fuck, and b) believe in the kernal of truth around which the letter was written. People that wrote these press releases seem to have lost touch with reality, but I have a feeling they probably took about 10 minutes to write and 2 days to proof, giving others the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a PR/marketing flack myself, I'll freely admit that I'm an embittered mercenary, as I think most in the profession are. But the problem is not us marketing people; it's just the nature of the industry. 1) No one will read a press release unless it claims a huge benefit. No one reads press releases to begin with, but a press release that makes only modest claims will just get drowned out in the overwhelming 24/7 noise of the modern marketosphere. 2) No client will approve a release that makes him sound an

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by greenguy (162630)

      I've written a few press releases in my day (for politics, not technology). The answer is, people who write these sorts of releases know that journalists are lazy, and routinely cut and paste sentences from them into their articles. The really lazy ones paste in the entire press release.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:20AM (#29104565)

    You'd think when people used screenshots of something they threw together in a word processor they'd at least turn off auto-spell check underlining so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.

  • Damn!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:24AM (#29104611)
    That's why I'm running low on coasters AOL stopped sending them out in 2006 :)
  • Sony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:24AM (#29104613)

    Sony ditching their AI and other cutting-edge 'out there' research (like the Qrio and Aibo) to focus on media/entertainment. Sony Labs used to feel like one of those wicked Zaibatsus as described in Neuromancer.

    It happened shortly after they took on an American board member, incidentally.

    HP did much the same under Carly.

    ATT's Bell Labs, too.

    I hope Research in Motion's Perimeter Institute takes off. These corporate research labs are where we get all the best stuff!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vbraga (228124)

      Interesting, I don't really understand Sony corporate structure, but as far as I know, Sony Music Entertainment was a separate company Sony bought in late 80s (Wikipedia seems to back this [wikipedia.org] up).

      Do really they ditched their core business (high tech) for their media business? Wikipedia says the same as you:

      The AIBO and the rest of Sony's artificial intelligence program was discontinued after 2005 in Sony's effort to make the company more profitable.

      But offers no source. Sony AIBO Europe announcement doesn't says it was ditching the whole AI and robot program. This seems very strange.

      There's seems to be at least one [sonycsl.co.jp] (really liked that page design) Sony

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:27AM (#29104647)

    I used to write press releases myself in my younger days and often times you're stuck in a very difficult position of having to spin something that's very negative into something that at least doesn't make a bad situation even worse. Let's face it, there are only two reasons that companies ever lay off employees en mass: a budget cut that makes it unavoidable, or an attempt to streamline by removing an entire redundant or poorly-performing area or division. Private sector companies are loathe to admit the former, and so they almost always couch a large layoff as the latter.

    They do this because they know that, if they show weakness, their stock will tank and they'll have even MORE layoffs than they've already had. And laying off people is never easy to do. Despite the reputation that corporations have for being heartless, they are nonetheless made up of real human beings--very few of whom take any pleasure in having to throw their employees' lives into chaos (not to mention the real damage it does to the company itself and its projects).

    Of course, sometimes the stock still tanks anyway (savvy investors are rarely fulled by mere spin), but to publicly announce "Hey, we're going into the shitter" is still irresponsible. And the only alternative to "We're streamlining" or "We're facing cuts" is "We axed these people capriciously, just because we felt like it." So the choice is pretty clear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OzPeter (195038)
      Why is it that in this day and age the movement of the market (and the whole underpinnings of the global economy) is based on things like the perception of how someone wrote a press release? It seems crazy to me that we put up with things like this. However IANAE (economist) so I have no idea how structure our economy differently
      • by name_already_taken (540581) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:23AM (#29105387)

        Why is it that in this day and age the movement of the market (and the whole underpinnings of the global economy) is based on things like the perception of how someone wrote a press release?

        It's because investors and speculators are indeed crazy. People are sheep.

        My parents told me a story of how my grandmother flagged them down as they were driving down the street one day. They pulled over and my grandmother came over to the car, looked around to make sure nobody would overhear the sage investment advice she was about to reveal, and said "pepper's going scarce".

        There was a rumor amongst all the old ladies in town that there was a shortage of pepper, and so they were rushing out to the stores to buy all the pepper they could before it ran out. For a week or so, there was a real shortage of pepper in that city, because of all the old people rushing to buy it.

        Compare that to what happens to the retail price of fossil fuels when something just as ridiculous happens, and you can see that the people who have influence over the price of things are just a collection of irrational sheep. Once you realize that, it becomes clear as to how you can influence markets and prices if you have some money to invest in the right place or if you can say the right words in front of enough people.

      • by barzok (26681)

        For the same reasons that the market only reacts to short-term performance instead of looking at the big picture. Your company can be on track for a record-breaking year for revenue & sales, but if you have a single quarter that misses expectations by one cent per share, it'll kill your stock price.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Why is it that in this day and age the movement of the market (and the whole underpinnings of the global economy) is based on things like the perception of how someone wrote a press release? It seems crazy to me that we put up with things like this. However IANAE (economist) so I have no idea how structure our economy differently

        The problem is that as an investor, if you are invested in a company that is basically sound, but is currently in a weak market position, if a lot of people perceive that this current weak position is a fundamental flaw in the company, their reaction to that perception can make it a reality.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thing is, layoffs are virtually *never* the right response. You don't regain profitability in the long term by cutting costs. You do it by increasing revenue, and you can't increase revenue in a slow economy with fewer people on board to do the necessary work.

  • I didn't bother reading the whole thing. As many people did, I glanced first at the annotations. They are composed primarily of editorial "neener neener" than anything insightful.

    At least Cracked Magazine would have made an attempt at humor to make up for the lack of substance.

  • by drseuk (824707) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:50AM (#29104901)
    "Peace for our time" - Neville Chamberlain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_for_our_time [wikipedia.org] == "Peace after 1946"

    "Mission accomplished!" George W. Bush http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished [wikipedia.org] == "Mission not accomplished"

    "Titanic goes down: everyone safe" Daily Express, April 1912 http://www.newstatesman.com/200606190037 [newstatesman.com] == well, even the Cameron film didn't distort reality quite that much.
  • My favourite, regarding the announcement of the iPod:

    No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame
      -- CmdrTaco

    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:06AM (#29105955) Journal
      Taco gets a lot of flack for that, but honestly I did agree with him. And I still do. The first Ipod sucked. Mac only, expensive as heck, not much storage space. But, it didn't stay sucky. It improved over the years, gradually adding features to make it appeal to more consumers. I'd say the release of the ipod with a usb interface for pc's was the ground breaking announcement. If you still thought they wouldn't make an impact then you should be made fun of.

      I mean, did anyone really think windows was going to be a hit after microsoft released windows 1.0?
  • I used to take Apple's announcements at face value (or at least at the same level of face value as anyone else in the industry) but I learned better.

    When Steve Jobs says "flash MP3 players are junk" or "no ugly monitors on nice macs" or any of those other announcements that they're going to turn around a year or three later when they release the iPod Shuffle or "bring your own display keyboard and mouse" Mac mini it's all part of their "never say anything meaningful about future product releases" policy. You can't tell ANYTHING about what Apple's going to release based on what they say. Jobs doesn't just play his cards close to his chest, they're surgically implanted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jimicus (737525)

      On the contrary, I think you've just proven that if Apple will at some point in the next 1-3 years release something that's the exact opposite of what they're announcing.

      In fact, now I think of it I'm sure Jobs announced that the iPod would never have video because there was no point in such a small device.

  • No longer is a Microsoft OS an unquestionable "success". No longer will people buy every OS coming from them without thinking about it.
    I call that a pretty big change. :)

  • Short Circuit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:16PM (#29106919) Journal
    I liked this part from the Circuit City story...

    The company has completed a wage management initiative that will result in the separation of approximately 3,400 store Associates. The separations, which are occurring today, focused on Associates who were paid well above the market-based salary range for their role. New Associates will be hired for these positions and compensated at the current market range for the job.

    How far up your butt does your head have to be to refer to a layoff as a "separation"? Such gutless prose deserves our complete contempt.

    It has been my experience that managers who lay off their best people to save money don't understand their business. This is what happens when you hire MBA's.

    • by jhhl (513935)

      You breezed right by the "Associates" euphemism as well!
      A more subtle one was "well above the market based salary range,"
        neglecting to say in which country that range was based on or what "well above" really entails.
       

  • >> Microsoft said that Windows Vista would transform life as we knew it. ...and it did. It defined a new low-point in software on a planet-wide scale.

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:16PM (#29114053) Homepage
    Today The Damned announced that their forthcoming single "New Rose" will be available in the shops on Tuesday, to be followed by "Eloise" next month. Spokesman Captain Sensible, when asked to clarify, was quoted as saying "Wot?".

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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