Japan Video Games Blog


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Friday, July 18, 2008

Beijing steps up battle against smog - World Blog - msnbc.com

By Adrienne Mong, NBC News Producer

BEIJING – Twenty-two days before the Olympic Games open here, the capital is awash in smog – an unseasonably thick haze that seems part pollution, part humidity. 

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
A typical morning seen from a residential high-rise overlooking Beijing's Third Ring Road.

And while Chinese authorities say the atmosphere has been better than expected, they are taking measures this weekend that hopefully will ease the six weeks of muddy, grey haze which has stifled the city's residents for the past six weeks.

Beijing's government said it has spent around $20 billion to improve its air quality, deploying a variety of emissions-reducing measures such as cutting fares for public transport; converting coal-fired heaters to electric or other clean-fuel ones; imposing new vehicle-exhaust standards that match those in Western Europe; and shutting down or relocating factories in the capital.

Officials have even brought in more green, literally. They've invested $1.12 billion to build the enormous Olympic Forest Park, on the edge of the Olympic Village. Not only does it help buffer the notorious sandstorms that sweep over Beijing, the park should help clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing more oxygen.

But despite these efforts, the haze in June and early July was the thickest many Beijing natives had seen in a while.

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
A not so typical morning seen from the same residential high-rise overlooking Beijing's Third Ring Road.

Add to that was an unusually high level of humidity that, for weeks, ended each day with a sudden downpour around 7 p.m. The rain – not common to Beijing this early in the summer – prompted a few people to speculate how many cloud-seeding missiles the Meteorological Bureau might be firing into the air ahead of the Games.

As it turned out, they were right. Beijing's meteorological experts ran a weather drill over several days in early July to "dispel clouds" and clear the skies. 

But the haze persisted.

So much so that Reuters Television decided earlier this month to launch a daily "Beijing Smogwatch."

"Dear Clients," said a Reuters advisory, "Persistent smog over Olympic host Beijing's skies and a massive algae bloom in sailing venue Qingdao have highlighted China's environmental concerns a month ahead of the Games. Reuters will run daily smogwatch pictures until The Games begin."

And so Monday through Friday, the news agency has been broadcasting up to a minute of footage of Beijing smog to its subscribers. 

Not surprisingly, it's been pretty much the same video: The city cloaked in smog.

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
Beijing's Olympic set piece, the Bird's Nest stadium, blends in with the air.

But if the authorities here have their way the smogwatch could come to an end after this weekend, when construction sites around Beijing will suspend operations until Sept. 20. The work stoppage also extends to mines, chemical plants, and factories – even those in neighboring provinces.

And a new traffic control system launches on Sunday, whereby the 3.3 million private vehicles on the roads of Beijing will be cut by fifty per cent as cars with license plates ending in even numbers alternate every day with those with plates ending in odd numbers.

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Npd Group

Metal Gear Solid 4 Tops Software Sales For June

See, not only is this E3 week, it's NPD sales figures week as well. Double your pleasure. Software sales first, and despite the continued appeal of Nintendo stalwarts like Wii Play and Wii Fit, two new games take up the top two spots for June. At #1 is, unsurprisingly, Metal Gear Solid 4, with Guitar Hero: On Tour sadly/somehow managing to come in second.

As for the rest, we have a tie! Well, an approximate tie. Yes, Ninja Gaiden II and Wii Fit managed to both approximately sell 372,200 copies each, with the NPD group forgoing a coin-toss or arm wrestle as a decider and just letting them share 3rd place. EA will no doubt be thrilled that Battlefield Bad Company managed to move 346,800 units, while those making it to the bottom three spots on the top ten can't miss a Lego Indy three-peat.

More »
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Npd Group

June: PS3 Beats 360, Wii Beats PS3, DS Beats Wii

Time for June's hardware numbers. And while we already know the larger implications for the month's sales - namely, that the Wii has now overtaken the 360 in total sales in the US - there's still interest in the month-by-month blows of the console struggle. Metal Gear Solid 4 gave the PS3 a timely boost, helping it sell nearly twice as many consoles as Microsoft could manage. Indeed, the 360 had to look over its shoulder at the PS2, surely a troubling sign for the folks up by Redmond way.

As usual, though, that's a fight for third (or fourth, in Microsoft's case, the 360 outsold by the PSP as well). The Wii, off the back of Wii Fit, Mario Kart and what must be an increased supply of units to the US market, sold the devil's number in thousands, while the DS sold even more.

Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
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Guitar Hero

Jimi Hendrix Confirmed For Guitar Hero

It's been confirmed by Jimi Hendrix's estate that several of his tracks will be appearing in the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour. Janie Hendrix - who oversees the late guitar god's estate - says that after originally being unable to locate a ton of master tracks (indicating, perhaps, this deal's been in the works for quite some time?), they've now been found, and promptly made available to Neversoft. Three of the songs mentioned are Purple Haze, Foxy Lady & Little Wing. Janie says of the deal "Guitar Hero really was on the ball and and they were biting at the bit to get this out this year, so, we just accommodated them...Jimi was a kid at heart — he definitely would have played these games". Whether that's true or not is besides the point. Purple Haze, people. Purple. Haze.

Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
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Congratulations, Microsoft. For the first time in the Xbox group's history, it's reported a profitable year (previous back-slapping have been confined to profitable quarters), with earnings released today showing the Entertainment & Devices Division (which, granted, also includes stuff like Games for Windows and the Zune) made around $426 million during the 07-08 financial year, mostly as a result of increased 360 console and software sales. That sure beats last year's results, which thanks to the RROD warranty extension saw the E&DD division go $1.9 billion in the red. Also included in Microsoft's report was the fact the company have now sold 20 million 360 consoles, which should provide a nice, clean figure for the company's post-NPD numbers spin.
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simple 2000: the japanese software chart

Persona 4 Takes Japanese Software Competitors To School

Everything old is new again, as PlayStation 2 release Persona 4 rockets to the top of the Japanese sales charts, with the Wii remake of Resident Evil 0 seeing a rather unimpressive, but still top ten debut. Probably a good call on Capcom USA's part not to release the title stateside. RE4 Wii Edition this is not.

A handful of new, notable releases chart, including a new Stafi DS adventure, as well as two Western born releases, God of War: Chains of Olympus and Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Those two appear after the jump.

01. Persona 4 (PS2) - 193,000 / NEW
02. Wii Fit (Wii) - 30,000 / 2,353,000
03. Densetsu no Stafi: Taiketsu! Dire Kaizokudan (DS) - 29,000 / NEW
04. Mario Kart Wii (Wii) - 25,000 / 1,560,000
05. Daigasso Band Brothers DX (DS) - 23,000 / 190,000
06. Resident Evil 0 (Wii) - 21,000 / NEW
07. Derby Stallion DS (DS) - 20,000 / 206,000
08. Hanayori Dango: Koi Seyo Onago (DS) - 20,000 / NEW
09. Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Daigekisen (DS) - 16,000 / NEW
10. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP) - 16,000 / 2,277,000

Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
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As listed on GameStop's site. For $70, you'll get the game, a "Collectible SteelBook DVD case", a small art/character book with foreword by Dude Huge, a making-of DVD, a cheesy photo of Dom and his missus and an in-game item. Which is a "gold-plated" Lancer, that you'll be able to use in MP matches. In these crazy days of $100+ collector's editions, that's surprisingly reasonable.

Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
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There is no cure for PSP fever in Japan, what with all those massive marquee releases happening overseas. Like... um God of War: Chains of Olympus maybe? Is this just Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G after shocks or are folks just falling in love all over again with the Sony handheld? Regardless of the reason, the PSP comes out on top on this week's Media Create sales chart. Nintendo DS and Wii hold strong, but certainly aren't selling as well as they are in the States.

Even the 360 is holding on to a larger slice of the pie than normal. It's all so confusing!

  • PSP - 56,998
  • Nintendo DS - 48,540
  • Wii - 41,768
  • PlayStation 3 - 12,458
  • PlayStation 2 - 10,405
  • Xbox 360 - 3,807
Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
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FDA gives all-clear on tomatoes, not peppers -- chicagotribune.com

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration declared on Thursday that it is again safe to eat all tomatoes now on sale in the U.S., canceling its warning in June that some tomatoes were the cause of a still-unsolved outbreak of salmonella poisoning.

At the same time, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that those who are young, elderly or who suffer from weak immune systems should not eat fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers, because the latest scientific detective work points to those peppers as a source of this particular strain of the bacteria, Salmonella Saintpaul. That warning includes fresh peppers in such foods as salsa.

The new pepper warning suggests that government scientists are feeling more confident about signs that point to bad peppers as a source of the illnesses, which have so far afflicted 1,196 people in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to the CDC. They stopped short, however of issuing a broad warning not to eat peppers.

Illinois has reported 113 salmonella-related illnesses, the second highest among states, according to the CDC. Texas, where the outbreak was first discovered, ranks first with 456.

Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, said that the number of illnesses, which began in April, appears to be waning.

"Although it appears that the outbreak is ongoing and we do not have evidence that it is over," Tauxe said, "it does appear to be decreasing in intensity beginning in mid-June."

Tauxe and David Acheson, the FDA's associate commissioner for foods, both stressed during a news briefing that it still isn't clear what has caused the salmonella illnesses. But they said that fresh tomatoes, which have a short shelf-life, should now be safe to eat.

Acheson said that initial interviews with victims suggested that tomatoes were to blame, while clusters of illnesses in states like Illinois revealed that jalapeno peppers were commonly consumed among those who fell ill.

Pepper packing in Mexico

Acheson said FDA investigators are now focused on a single pepper-packing operation in Mexico. He said that evidence from that packing firm isn't complete. He said FDA investigators followed the pepper supply chain back to that packing company, which he initially referred to as a farm.

"The trace back at least at this point has that farm in the chain," he said. "As with tomatoes, we're looking at all points on the supply chain which are critical."

The FDA and CDC issued a warning on June 7 directing consumers to avoid raw red plum, red Roma and red round tomatoes. The warnings caused a drop across the board in tomato sales, costing growers, packers and grocers millions of dollars.

Acheson said Thursday that the best evidence available then implicated tomatoes. But as the illnesses continued to be reported, the FDA and CDC failed to find salmonella on the tests conducted on any suspect tomatoes.

Growers have been pressing the FDA to rescind its warning, noting that there was no hard evidence that tomatoes were the cause. They welcomed Thursday's announcement, even though it comes too late in the growing season for many commercial farms.

"We have long been confident that Florida's tomatoes were not associated with the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak," the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange said in a statement, "and this week our industry called on the FDA to clear our products. Tomatoes from Florida's growing regions have been gone from the marketplace for weeks, so they could not have been the source of the contamination."

Acheson said that FDA investigators never found salmonella on any of the farms they visited in the U.S. or Mexico, ruling out farms as a source of contamination. But eliminating the farms hasn't made the search for the salmonella source any easier.

"We still do not know where the original contamination point was," Acheson said, "and we're pushing as hard today as we were in the beginning."

But the FDA's decision to now focus solely on peppers has further angered agency critics.

"It is absolutely outrageous that we are 90 days into the salmonella outbreak and the FDA and CDC still cannot determine the source of contamination," said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

Sen. Tom Harkin (D- Iowa), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Tuesday sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, criticizing the agency's performance.

"It seems highly unlikely that tomatoes harvested in April would still be consumed fresh by consumers in late June," Harkin wrote to Leavitt, who is responsible for the FDA. "It does not make sense why there remains a strong warning against eating certain fresh tomatoes when most states have been cleared by FDA as having produced tomatoes not implicated in the salmonella outbreak."

'Not a principled decision'

Jim Prevor, who runs Produce Business magazine and the Perishable Pundit blog, said that a "political push" led to Thursday's FDA decision to clear tomatoes. He said evidence that tomatoes were not to blame has been apparent for weeks.

"This is a good thing for the tomato growers," Prevor said. "The problem is that it is not a principled decision. There's no more reason to do it today or to do it yesterday or tomorrow.
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Mandela Celebrates His 90th Birthday - NYTimes.com

LONDON — There was a time, not all that long ago, when he was the invisible man whose name was a battle cry, his appearance known to most people only from an out-of-date photograph, a hidden hero on a prison island off the coast of Africa.

Nelson Mandela with his grandchildren at his home in Qunu, South Africa, on Friday.

But as he celebrated his 90th birthday Friday, Nelson Mandela was anything but invisible, a figure of reverence whose nine decades have been marked and observed at a huge rock concert in London’s Hyde Park, a gala dinner for his children’s charity in the august, chandeliered Long Room at Lord’s cricket ground and a host of tributes.

His birthday Friday was supposed to be a quiet affair in his ancestral village of Qunu in the southeast of his country — with a mere 500 of his closest friends in attendance, and a wry self-deprecation.

“We are honored that you wish to celebrate the birthday of a retired old man, who no longer has power or influence,” he said in a public radio message, according to news reports.

Friday was also the 10th anniversary of his marriage to Graca Machel, the widow of Samora Machel, a revolutionary leader and former president of Mozambique. He divorced Winnie Mandela in 1996.

Part of Mr. Mandela has always seemed to be public property, owned initially by foes of apartheid rule in South Africa and now a kind of universal talisman of integrity and dignity — a name to bring a flush of moral ardor to the most jaded celebrity visages.

Where his name once resonated around the segregated black townships of apartheid South Africa, chanted by the rebellious youths who challenged white rule, it now seems to head a list of encounters with notables sought by rock stars and politicians. He has apparently enjoyed a degree of mutual admiration: in 1997, for instance, he referred to the British pop group the Spice Girls as his “heroes” when he met them.

In his presence, even the most battle-scarred and cynical of politicians seem to feel they are wafted to the high ground wrought by Mr. Mandela’s 27 years in prison. His stature and charisma have given him entrĂ©e from the White House in Washington to 10 Downing Street in London.

Remarkably, it is now 18 years since Mr. Mandela was released from jail, 14 years since he triumphed in his country’s first democratic elections, eight since he left office and four since he formally withdrew from public life. But, contrary to his disclaimer of power and influence in his birthday message, he is still seen as a guarantor of his country’s remarkable transition from a segregated to a majority-ruled society.

F. W. de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa who negotiated the transition with Mr. Mandela and shared a Nobel Peace Prize with him in 1993, hailed Mr. Mandela’s role in molding “our widely diverse communities into an emerging multi-cultural nation.”

He has lent his name to the struggle against HIV/AIDS. The rock concert in Hyde Park, using Mr. Mandela’s Robben Island prison number of 46664, was devoted to the effort to combat the epidemic that has been the scourge of Africa.

Mr. Mandela also entered the bitter dispute over the electoral, social and economic crises of Zimbabwe, saying there had been a “tragic failure of leadership” there.

As he ages, there are fears among some South Africans that, as the Mail and Guardian newspaper put it, his legacy is under threat from his successor, Thabo Mbeki.

Mr. Mbeki’s critics have accused him of being far more divisive than Mr. Mandela and of overseeing a massive centralization of the power of the ruling African National Congress.

“Mandela is 90,” the Mail and Guardian said in its online editionhttp://www.mg.co.za Friday. “But the sweet celebration of a life of leadership, service and generosity is mixed with the sour taste of a legacy being polluted in front of the old man’s tired eyes.”

It went on: “ Where Mandela united, Mbeki has divided. His willingness to forgive and be reconciled with his former persecutors in the interests of South Africa is in sharp contrast with the “politics of total takeover” that has gripped the ruling party.”

It is thus with a certain wistfulness that some South Africans contemplate a post-Mandela era.

“Mandela can’t come to our rescue any more. But his example can,” the newspaper said.

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Merrill break even in 2008 key to ratings: S&P | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether or not Merrill Lynch & Co (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) can break even in the second half of 2008 will be a key determinant in whether the bank can stabilize its credit ratings or risk another downgrade, Standard & Poor's analyst Scott Sprinzen said on Friday.

Wall Street's third-largest investment bank on Wednesday posted a much larger-than-expected $4.89 billion quarterly loss, its fourth consecutive earnings decline.

If the bank is downgraded again by S&P or Moody's Investors Service, it will need to post billions in additional collateral against its trades. Sanford Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz estimated last month that an extra downgrade would cost the bank an additional $3.9 billion in collateral.

Standard & Poor's has a negative outlook on Merrill, indicating it is more likely than Moody's, which has a stable outlook, to cut the rating over the coming one-to-two years.

"If they fail to break even in the second half, then that's an important benchmark, but it's not an automatic trigger for a downgrade," Sprinzen said in an interview.

S&P would also consider other criteria, including Merrill's earnings prospects for 2009 and their capital position, Sprinzen said. "We don't want to draw a line in the sand or set up some test or trigger that would automatically indicate a downgrade."

S&P affirmed Merrill on Wednesday at "A," the sixth-highest investment grade, but said its leeway for further earnings disappointments at its current rating has diminished.

"If net earnings after write-downs in the second half of 2008 are materially below break-even -- either due to substantial write-downs or deterioration in operating performance -- we will reassess the rating," S&P said.

S&P cut Merrill's rating on June 2 as part of a broad review of financial institutions.
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Google Buys Russian Online Ad Firm - WSJ.com

Russian Internet firm Rambler Media Friday said it would sell 100% of online advertising company ZAO Begun to U.S. search giant Google Inc. for $140 million.

Begun offers contextual text-based advertising services and has more than 40,000 advertisers. Its partner network includes over 143,000 Russian-language sites.

"This agreement means more Russian users, advertisers and partners will get better search results and more relevant advertising," said Mohammad Gawdat, Google's managing director for emerging markets.

Revenue from search-related, text-based advertising on Russian-language Internet sites more than doubled in 2007 to $225 million, Rambler said.

The deal is expected to close in September.

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Could Mattel End Up With Bratz?

It was the Battle of the Dolls, and Barbie has won. A U.S. District Court jury in Riverside, Calif., found toymaker MGA Entertainment guilty of contract interference and copyright infringement when it hired doll designer Carter Bryant away from Mattel (MAT) in 2000. The verdict could bring the world's largest toymaker hundreds of millions of dollars in back royalties or outright ownership of the wildly successful Bratz line of dolls launched by MGA in 2001.

The July 17 decision represents a rare shot of good news for Mattel, which has suffered a major loss of market share for its flagship Barbie brand since the Bratz launch. Mattel has also been involved in a spate of toy recalls over the past year. "This is a victory for all the hard-working people at Mattel who come together to create many of the most beloved toys for children," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Eckert in a statement. "It is also a victory for all those who believe in fair play."

Not so fast, says Isaac Larian, the Iranian-born entrepreneur who is the majority owner of MGA (BusinessWeek.com, 6/10/08), which is also based in suburban Los Angeles. Larian says he'll have an opportunity to reveal new evidence the jury was barred from seeing in the first phase of the trial. In the second phase, which is to begin on July 23 and last about three weeks, the same jurors will be asked to determine damages. Larian has also vowed to appeal. "It's not over yet," Larian told BusinessWeek. "We own the name Bratz. There's no way they are ever going to get it."

On July 18, Mattel, based in El Segundo, Calif., reported that its earnings fell by nearly half, to $11.8 million, or 3 cents per share, in the second quarter. Barbie sales worldwide fell 6%. Still, the results beat analysts' already pessimistic expectations. Linda Bolton Weiser, an analyst with Caris Research, estimates that Bratz generates $1.1 billion a year in sales and could add as much as $115 million a year in earnings to Mattel if the company was awarded all rights to Bratz sales and profits. Buoyed in part by the Bratz verdict, Mattel shares surged 12%, to $20 per share.

The Bratz Conception

The case focused on Bryant, 39, who worked at Mattel but claimed he conceived the idea (BusinessWeek.com, 6/13/08) for the pouty-lipped Bratz dolls during an eight-month hiatus from the company in 1998. At the trial, Bryant testified that he used Mattel doll parts and fellow employees' time, and he sketched many Bratz drawings after returning to Mattel in 1999. As is customary in the industry, Bryant signed an agreement giving Mattel rights to anything he designed while employed by the company.

Bryant earned more than $30 million in royalties from MGA. He settled a copyright infringement suit brought against him by Mattel just before the MGA case began in May.

Larian admits the work Bryant did on the dolls while at Mattel did not make him a sympathetic witness for MGA. "There's no question he did not have good judgment," Larian says. "But we didn't know about that. Why punish MGA?"

Larian says that in the second phase of the trial and for the appeal he'll point out that Mattel uses much the same legal review for hiring new toy designers as MGA did. He claims Mattel was well aware of the Bratz dolls and was even offered a chance to distribute them in 2001. He says further evidence will show Mattel's strategy has been to "litigate MGA to death." Larian has his own countersuit claiming Mattel copied Bratz designs for its own doll lines. That case could go to trial in the fall.

Scott Landsbaum, a Los Angeles attorney with several toy industry clients, says he always tells them to work with inventors who work independently and not for rival toy companies. "All these creative people dream of having their own lines," he says. "If you've got an employee from another company approaching you with an idea, you ought to think long and hard about buying it."

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Overstock Posts Loss; Shares Plunge - WSJ.com

Overstock.com Inc.'s shares plummeted Friday despite the online retailer reporting a narrower loss, as investors worried the company won't stand up to stiff competition in the Internet retail space.

Overstock's second-quarter loss narrowed to $6.46 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $13.8 million, or 58 cents a share. Revenue rose 27% from a year earlier to $188.8 million.

Shares were down 39%, or $10.70, to $17 in afternoon trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Scott Devitt cut his investment rating on the stock to "sell," saying that Overstock compares unfavorably to its larger competitors eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

"We believe a stronger eBay will make Overstock spend more and Amazon's continued dominance will eventually force Overstock into another investment cycle," wrote Mr. Devitt in a research note Friday.

Overstock, based in Salt Lake City, is an online "closeout" retailer offering discount brand-name merchandise to its customers.

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Bloomberg.com: Japan

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd., which slipped to fifth rank this year among global mobile- phone producers, plans to eliminate about 2,000 jobs globally after quarterly profit was almost wiped out.

Sony Ericsson, which has 11,900 employees, said the handset market will remain ``challenging'' this year, particularly in the third quarter. Net income fell to 6 million euros ($9.51 million) from 220 million euros a year earlier, and sales dropped 9.4 percent to 2.82 billion euros, hurt by lower prices and adverse currency fluctuations, the London-based company reported today.

The company, a venture between Sony Corp. and Ericsson AB, lost its position in the global handset market to LG Electronics Co. this year. Sony Ericsson has suffered from delays in bringing products to the market as well as component shortages. The job reductions will be in all of the company's functions ranging from manufacturing to research and development, Chief Executive Officer Dick Komiyama said in an interview.

``They really need to renew their product portfolio drastically,'' said Carolina Milanesi, a research director at Gartner Inc.

Today's report contrasts with that of Nokia Oyj, the industry leader, which reported earnings and revenue yesterday that exceeded analysts' estimates and raised its forecast for industry sales.

``We are aligning our operations and resources worldwide to meet an increasingly competitive business environment and to help restore our capability for profitable growth,'' Chief Executive Officer Komiyama said. The job cuts will help Sony Ericsson save 300 million euros in cost annually within a year.

Sony Ericsson said it will take charges of a similar magnitude to the intended annual cost savings to realign the company. Ericsson is also eliminating 4,000 jobs after reporting the biggest drop in quarterly earnings since 2003 this year.

Fewer Shipments

Analysts polled by SME Direkt had anticipated sales of 2.76 billion euros and net income of 3 million euros.

Unit shipments fell to 24.4 million from 24.9 million units a year earlier, with average selling price declining to 116 euros from 125 euros. Analysts had anticipated shipments of 24 million units and an average price of 115 euros, according to SME.

Komiyama succeeded Miles Flint as CEO last year after his predecessor had more than doubled the company's sales, unit shipments and profit. Sony and Ericsson combined their handset units in 2001 after losses at the separate operations mounted.

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, raised its outlook for global unit sales to 10 percent growth or more from the about 1.14 billion units sold in 2007. It had previously predicted sales growth of about 10 percent. Sony Ericsson reiterated today global industry sales by units will rise by about 10 percent this year, lead by emerging markets.

To contact the reporter on this story: Juho Erkheikki in Helsinki at jerkheikki@bloomberg.net.

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The Associated Press: Wall Street edges lower after earnings reports

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street edged lower Friday as disappointing earnings from technology companies like Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. offset upbeat results from Citigroup Inc.

Stocks pulled back slightly after a huge two-day rally lifted the Dow Jones industrials by more than 480 points. Investors were concerned about earnings; though Citi's loss was less than analysts had forecast, the market was clearly let down by the tech reports.

Google's results were lower than expected, the result of the weakening economy hurting advertising revenue, while Microsoft missed forecasts by a penny. Also, Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s chief executive stepped down after the chip maker posted a wider-than-expected loss.

Citi reported a $2.5 billion second-quarter loss due to write-downs tied to deteriorating credit markets. The results surpassed projections, and helped to mitigate some of the market's concerns following a big loss from Merrill Lynch & Co. reported late Thursday.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose as news of an output cut in Nigeria helped to halt the sharp decline in prices that began three days ago. A barrel of light, sweet crude tacked on $1.03 to $130.32 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"Considering the strength we had in the past few days, the market is handling itself quite nice and trying to hold on to the gains," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners. "Investors are also positioning ahead of a barrage of earnings and economic reports due next week."

In midday trading, the Dow fell 10.18, or 0.09 percent, to 11,436.48.

Broader stock indicators also fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.28, or 0.50 percent, to 1,254.04, and the Nasdaq composite index dropped 38.05, or 1.65 percent, to 2,274.25.

Bond prices were little changed Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.08 percent from Thursday's 4.00 percent.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

With no economic data slated for release Friday, investors were basing their decisions on the week's stream of earnings reports.

Google fell $50.37, or 9.4 percent, to $483.07 after it posted disappointing results late Thursday. Microsoft dropped $2.02, or 7.4 percent, to $25.49, while AMD fell 61 cents, or 11.7 percent, to $4.68.

Financial stocks were mixed after Citi's results. Merrill shed 81 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $29.90, while Citi added $1.77, or 9.8 percent, to $19.74.

Honeywell International Inc. fell 2 cents to $50.90 after it reported second-quarter earnings rose 18 percent and surpassed forecasts. The aerospace company also boosted its 2008 forecast.

Mattel Inc. surged $2.17, or 12 percent, to $20.46 after the toymaker said its reported profit was cut in half, but still beat Wall Street expectations.

Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Thursday it will buy rival generic drug company Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. for more than $7 billion, in a move to expand its presence in U.S. and Eastern European markets. Teva rose $3.38, or 8.2 percent, to $44.43, while Barr shot up $6.33, or 11.1 percent, to $63.50.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.23, or 1.04 percent, to 689.40.

Declining issues were about even with advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where 1.03 billion shares exchanged hands.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.65 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.70 percent, Germany's DAX index added 1.78 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.74 percent.

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