Monthly Archives: December 2008

John Gapper

What happens when you try to use a Canadian device on a German network at an event held by a Finnish mobile phone company in Brooklyn? Forget about it.

That was my experience this morning when attending Nokia’s annual capital markets day in my home city (OK, it’s a borough of New York these days, but it’s still a city to me). I could not get a decent signal on my T-Mobile BlackBerry.

That reflects on the spotty mobile phone coverage one gets even in big US cities, but it also seemed to symbolise something about Nokia’s struggles in this market. Read more

John Gapper

rubin.jpg

My FT column this week is about Robert Rubin and Citigroup: Read more

John Gapper

The news of cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe reminds me of reading The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson’s gripping account of the discovery of the causes of cholera in London in the 19th century. This was my review of it in the FT.

It seems improbable now that there could be cholera in Soho in the middle of London, but an outbreak there in 1854 led to the proof that the deadly illness was caused by drinking sewage-infected water. Read more

John Gapper

The decision of the chief executives of the big three Detroit companies to fly by corporate jet to Washington to seek a federal bail-out two weeks ago must rank as one of the great corporate public relations blunders of our time.

Now, it seems, Rick Wagoner of General Motors and Alan Mulally of Ford are going to waste time by driving themselves to the Capitol to have a second go, while Bob Nardelli of Chrysler is pondering his transport options. According to the Wall Street Journal this morningRead more

John Gapper

I went to see Bolt, the new Walt Disney film, this weekend (along with my target audience). I watched it in 3D with the help of a pair of Elvis Costello-like spectacles given out at the door.

Bolt is one of the new wave of 3D films now pouring out of Hollywood in an effort to give the technology another chance. The 3D films of the 1950s initially caused great enthusiasm and talk of a revolution but the excitement fadedRead more

John Gapper

The news that Barclays Capital is staffing up to become a full-service investment bank – or at least expanding out of fixed income into equities – is, I suppose, not unexpected. Barclays did, after all, snap up Lehman’s US operations for a song.

But it makes me think again of the entropy that exists in investment banking – or what is left of it. Banks start dabbling in one corner of the industry and then steadily get pulled into expanding into other areas. Read more