YEAR IN REVIEW: November 2009

November proved that the Year of the Layoff wasn’t over. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) cut another 800 bodies worldwide and in a variety of business groups, adding to the 5,000 already let go in January and May. The good news? According to Redmond, it was the end of a bloodletting process that was scheduled to run into the summer of 2010. In Canada, media, cable and wireless giant Rogers Communications Inc. laid off 900. The company wouldn’t say what divisions the cuts would come from, leading to questions about the impact on its business services division.

Speaking of Rogers, the company faced new competitive pressures and eventually a day in court as BCE Inc. (
TSE:BCE)  and Telus Corp. (TSE:T) launched a jointly built HSPA data network
and new products for high-bandwidth wireless, including Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone. By the end of the month, a B.C. court had sided with Telus, ruling that Rogers could no longer claim to be Canada’s most reliable network – just before the lucrative holiday shopping season was to begin.

The long, sad saga of Nortel Networks Corp. ended, for all intents and purposes, with the sale of its carrier wireless business to Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson. Forrester Research Inc. declared the sale the final nail in Nortel’s coffin, describing the business as “finished.” It left the company essentially managing the licensing of patents.

Another Canadian tech legend fallen on hard times, Corel Corp., allowed itself to be swallowed up by its largest investor, Vector Capital. Corel said taking the company private again was necessary to raise capital and avoid defaulting on debt payments.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was keeping busy, launching a beta of Office 2010 and attempting to swing a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for exclusive online rights to the media giant’s content, cutting Google Inc. out of the loop. (At press time, nothing had come of the talks.)

Google, for its part, detailed its coming Chrome OS – essentially, the existing Chrome browser running on an optimized Linux kernel, with apps and data living in the cloud.

On the public sector front, a group of Quebec universities launched a 77-teraflop supercomputer installation built from a 7,680-core Sun Constellation System; New Brunswick’s services division rolled out a new spatial data infrastructure to make geographic data accessible to citizens and staff; and the City of Toronto committed to opening its municipal data to the public to enable location-based applications.

And, at the Earth Friendly IT Event in Toronto, envirolegend David Suzuki castigated the industry for its role in creating cyberjunk, and urged the industry to start taking the green agenda seriously.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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