Circuit City Stores announced Monday it plans to close 155 stores and lay off 17 percent of its workforce in the U.S., as it aims to restructure its business amid a tightening credit market and downturn in business.
Over the past few weeks, the retailer's financial health has become more dire and, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal , was considering restructuring moves as a means to avoid a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy filing.
The struggling electronics retailer noted in its announcement that not only have its sales dropped amid an economic slowdown and loss in consumer confidence, but also its suppliers have begun cutting back on the level of credit they are extending to the retailer.
"The current mix of terms and credit availability is becoming unmanageable for the company," Circuit City noted in its announcement.
That cutback by suppliers comes at a critical time for Circuit City, as it heads into the holiday buying season when it wants to replenish its stock with the popular items.
The company plans to begin a liquidation sale at its 155 stores targeted for closing on Wednesday and is expected to continue the sale through the rest of the year.
Circuit City also plans to scale back plans to open new stores to two from 12 in the current fiscal year and suspend all store openings for 2010. The company will continue to operate in 153 U.S. markets and overseas, but will be exiting 12 U.S. markets as a result of the restructuring.
Other woes for Circuit City include a potential delisting of its stock from the New York Stock Exchange. Last week, the NYSE warned the company its stock price had fallen below $1 for 30 consecutive trading days, a trigger point for a potential delisting.
The NYSE warned the company on Oct. 24 and Circuit City has 10 days to resolve the issue. One common means that companies use in this situation is a reverse stock split, in which investors who hold a certain number of shares can swap them for a single share in the issuer's stock. For example, 10 shares of stock trading at 50 cents each would become 1 share that trades at $5 a share.
Dawn Kawamoto covers enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News. E-mail Dawn .
PowerSnap is a small and free Windows application that merges photos on your home computer with those on the Web photo service Flickr . Its purpose is simple: provide users with a way to view and manage all their photos, online and off.
PowerSnap has a Flash-based interface that lets you navigate, tag, and arrange your photos. It's similar to what you'd get with most photo browsing applications . What sets PowerSnap apart is its Flickr-user tracking, which essentially lets you create RSS feeds for Flickr members. You can add as many Flickr usernames as you want, and view their entire photo libraries or just their 25 newest shots. You can even create your own feed that other PowerSnap users can subscribe to in order to view your latest shots. It's a lot faster and more visually interesting than navigating Flickr on your own.
There are some limitations. If you're a Mac user or use a photo service other than Flickr, you're out of luck. Also, to view your PowerSnap feeds, your friends and family need to download and install the app. Regardless, it's nice to see a user-friendly tool that approaches the problem of managing on and offline content in a cohesive way.
If you haven't heard of Zingspot.com yet, you soon might.
It was recently registered by none other than Dell, which also applied for a trademark on the name.
Zingspot is likely related to Zing Systems, a company that Dell acquired in August . Zingspot.com is described in the document filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as "an online consumer portal for digital entertainment content acquisition and distribution." Being a hardware maker, it would make more sense to expect Dell to make a device rather than a service. Especially since the PC maker officially pulled out of the portable media player market in August 2006, at the time citing a need to focus more on PCs, TVs, and printers for consumers.
Dell had little to say when it acquired the tiny, Mountain View, Calif., company that makes streaming audio software. But almost four months later and with CES fast approaching, it's interesting to look at what Dell might be doing.
The company has had a tough year, but it seems to be turning things around. In an effort to show that it's hip and relevant, the Texas PC maker has definitely been ratcheting up the emphasis on design--see the XPS M1330 and M1530 notebooks, and XPS One desktop--and on online communities with its IdeaStorm and Direct2Dell blogs.
An online portal for entertainment seems to fit in there somewhere. But does it make sense to build another iTunes Store or Rhapsody, or a Zune store for that matter? Negotiating all those content relationships is a headache very few people want. And after all, Dell is a hardware company before anything else. Dell, by the way, declined to comment on any of its future plans for Zing or Zingspot.com.
But Zing makes a pretty nifty technology, one that SanDisk licensed for use in its Sansa Connect. It's software for real-time audio streaming--meaning you can get music wirelessly from an online source and from other portable devices. SanDisk, however, uses Yahoo's music service as its content source. So, either Dell will create its own portal or will partner with an already established online store if it does end up making a device that utilizes this software.
It's also worth noting that Zing is a pretty snappy-sounding brand name, and could lend that fresh, relevant tone to whatever they're cooking up down in Round Rock. Will we see a Zing brand on a forthcoming media player from Dell, or on a whole new family of devices? Stay tuned.
Whether it's a housing boom or bust, square footage is always at a premium in big cities. That's why, whenever possible, we try to find examples of technology used for space-saving engineering, as we did with this bed that doubles as a workstation a few months back.
But what if you don't want to bring your work home yet remain space-challenged? Never fear: This U.K. furniture site displays a sofa that converts to a bunk bed .
We just hope that no assembly is required.
A shadowy federal court that meets behind closed doors to hear wiretapping requests says it won't publicly release even portions of its rulings.
In response to a formal request from the ACLU, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said on Tuesday that it won't divulge the abridged text of the orders dealing with the Bush administration's eavesdropping scheme on grounds that it could endanger national security.
The 24-page opinion disagreed with the Bush administration's suggestion that the ACLU's request be necessarily dismissed out of hand. But after considering the request, the court rejected it on grounds that the public enjoys no general right of access to its proceedings under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The opinion is noteworthy for two other reasons: It is the first time that anyone except the U.S. Department of Justice has argued, even in writing, before the court. Second, it's only the third time in the history of the court that an opinion has been released publicly.
Here's an excerpt from Tuesday's opinion:
The ACLU acknowledges that there is no tradition of public access to FISC orders. The ACLU argues, nonetheless, that the orders at issue here are distinguishable because they are "of broader significance and include legal analysis and legal rulings concerning the meaning of FISA."
Even assuming that it is proper to apply the "experience" test to a narrow subset of FISC decisions of broad legal significance, however, the FISC has, in fact, issued other legally significant decisions that remain classified and have not been released to the public .
Thus, the FISC is not a court whose place or process has historically been open to the public, and the ACLU Motion does not satisfy the experience test for a First Amendment right of access.
The health care industry had no direct relation to Andy Grove's long career at Intel; it caught his interest when he himself was a patient.
Grove, co-founder, former CEO and president of Intel , as well as best-selling author and winner of numerous awards, talked about the relationship between technology and health care at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health this week.
Although he's not very optimistic, and fears a major war, depression or pandemic would have to strike the nation for U.S. health care to change its ways, he considers information technology a vital solution for lowering costs of medical care .
"If anything is going to happen, we need something more simple than cracking a framework," Grove said. The system has to be taken apart--what he calls a "strategic triage"--and IT solutions applied strategically to the system's various ailing parts.
Video: Intel co-founder tackles health Andy Grove talks to CNET News.com about what he perceives as a flawed health care system.
Grove pointed to three critical weaknesses in the health care system: the large number of U.S. uninsured--46 million, or around one third of the population; the deteriorating state of emergency care; and the proportion of the population that is elderly.
Grove addressed an epidemic of inefficiency, starting with emergency rooms being the first line of entry to treatment for many patients. He thinks privately owned "retail" clinics and hospitals leasing out spaces could be a starting point. He cited the growing trend among big businesses of dropping retirement packages, including health insurance. As one of the past century's most prominent business pioneers, Grove said he understands businesses' situation and offers Wal-Mart as an example. The people at Wal-Mart "are not evil; they're trying to stay alive."
His first proposal for reducing costs and improving efficiency is implementing a nationwide system of health files on portable chips that allow patients to share their personal medical records with caregiving facilities.
Second, he proposes a "shift left". With hundreds of billions of dollars spent on medical care every year, he said, more people should receive treatment at home and interact with hospitals through digital files and the Internet, so details of their medical condition can be updated and shared expediently.
"Credit companies use it, security companies use it, but the health care system doesn't," Grove said. "We have tried the current system in health care and it's not working. Let's try something else."
A prosecutor out of Hayward, Calif., who had intended to force a murder suspect's mother to remove trial-related documents from her MySpace.com account , has done an about-face on the issue.
After taking some heat in the press from First Amendment legal scholars, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Amilcar "Butch" Ford, who has not returned phone calls from CNET News.com, told a judge Friday morning that he was not filing a motion asking the court to restrict what goes up on Laura Rangel's MySpace account . Rangel's site is a place for friends and family to leave messages for her jailed daughter, Laura Medina, and has also become the platform for her campaign urging a fair trial in her daughter's case.
The case goes back to June 22, 2004 , following a long car chase and fatal crash. Police allege that Medina, 24, got angry after spotting her then-boyfriend in Oakland, Calif., in a vehicle with a new girlfriend. Driving her own vehicle, Medina allegedly rammed and bumped into the other car until the driver lost control and crashed, in Castro Valley, Calif., killing an 18-year-old and injuring three others, police said.
Ford was reportedly concerned that police reports and other public documents on Rangel's site have the potential to taint the trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 30. He was particularly concerned about a photo Rangel posted of Ford with his grandmother, a fellow prosecutor said two weeks ago, when a hearing on the supposed motion was originally scheduled.
Ford did not tell the judge on Friday why he wasn't filing the motion, but Rangel's lawyer, Paul Dennison, suspects others convinced Ford that he couldn't force public documents to be taken down from the site without violating Rangel's free speech rights.
Dennison added that since the MySpace conflict arose, Ford has suggested Rangel might be called as a witness in the case, and therefore wouldn't be allowed to sit in the courtroom during the trial. Dennison said he wonders whether Ford is doing that as a way of punishing Rangel for the MySpace site; not being at her daughter's side during the trial would be excruciating for her, he said.