Monthly Archives: October 2009

John Gapper

While at BMW in Munich, I received an insight into why we should not hold our breath for pure electric cars to replace those with internal combustion engines.

It came from Hans Rathgeber, a BMW executive in charge of developing fuel-efficient technology for the BMW and Mini brands. Mr Rathgeber’s latest project is a BMW concept sports car, unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show, which accelerates to 100 km per hour in 4.8 seconds but is extremely fuel efficient. Read more

John Gapper

It sounds absurd to be surprised at how automated the process of car production is these days, but that was my reaction when I toured BMW’s plant making Series 3 cars in Munich today.

It has been more than 10 years since I went round a vehicle plant, so I took the opportunity on a visit to Munich to visit the one that which stands on the site where BMW first made aircraft engines in 1917. Read more

John Gapper

I reviewed Too Big To Fail – favourably – in the FT today:

For 19 years, the curse of Barbarians at the Gate, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s groundbreaking book about the leveraged buy-out of RJR Nabisco, has hung over the publishing industry. Every time there is a tumultuous financial collapse or scandal, journalists scurry to write proposals for books, promising to recount it Barbarians-style. Read more

John Gapper

My FT column this week is about how to restructure banks: Read more

John Gapper

I said I would report back on my experience with using a fully-fledged version of Windows 7 on a netbook – an Asus Eee that I bought last week.

To cut a long story short, it has been good so far. The netbook does not appear to have any trouble running Windows 7 Ultimate, of which I was given a review copy last week. Given Windows’ record of demanding ever more sophisticated hardware to work, that is impressive. Read more

John Gapper

Good for the European Commission. The news that ING, the financial services group, is now breaking up its banking and insurance divisions – and being forced to sell ING Direct USA – is one of the first times that a  banking group has been properly humbled for its role in the financial crisis.

So far, national governments have largely avoided actually making banks smaller as the price for needed to be bailed out. Indeed, the trend has been in the other direction – Hank Paulson, the US Treasury secretary last year, pushed for deals such as Bank of America taking over Merrill Lynch. Read more

John Gapper

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, was characteristically upbeat at the launch of Windows 7, the new version of its operating software in New York today. Mr Ballmer had good reason since Windows 7 (whether or not is numbered correctly) looks like a good product.

Microsoft has had enough of being pilloried by Apple for the complexity and unreliability of Windows. The software not only appears to be more reliable and much easier to use than previous versions but it does things like setting up a home network and streaming video across it with impressive ease. Read more

John Gapper

My FT column this week returns to Goldman Sachs: Read more

John Gapper

I’ve just returned from the launch of the new Barnes & Noble e-book reader, the Nook, which was bizarrely held in one of the most out-of-the-way spots in Manhattan – Chelsea Piers on the Hudson – at 4pm.

Perhaps the slog to get there and back, and sit in a hot, crowded room with lots of publishers and agents, has biased me against the product, which is a slickly executed attempt to rival Amazon’s KindleRead more

John Gapper

The Companies & Markets section of the US edition of the FT has the following headlines today:

Apple leaps ahead with 47 per cent surge in profits Read more

John Gapper

In his response to my review of his book What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis describes me as “a convenient totem for the media’s insistence on viewing the world through old media lenses.”

I definitely feel like a totem after reading the post on his blog because he attributes to me a set of views I don’t hold (or only partially hold) and then criticises those instead of mine. Read more

John Gapper

David Einhorn, the hedge fund manager who is most famous for shorting Lehman Brothers before its collapse, was talking at the Value Investing Congress in New York today.

Mr Einhorn talked about his reasoning for buying gold as a hedge against future inflation, and went into the reasons to be wary not only of the dollar but of currencies including the yen and sterling. Making a choice among them was like choosing between different forms of dental treatment, he said. Read more

John Gapper

Jeff Jarvis has replied to my review of his book What Would Google Do? on his blog.

His conclusion is that old media commentators such as myself tend to be out of touch, or perhaps biased as a result of where they work, and should be replaced by younger, fresher voices. Read more

John Gapper

What strikes me about the arrest of Raj Rajaratnam on charges of insider trading is the light it sheds on how many organisations surrounding big companies are given access to inside information about their financial performance.

In Mr Rajaratnam’s case, he is alleged to have traded about a number of companies, including Google, IBM and Sun Microsystems, on the basis of inside information supplied to him by a range of management consultants, investors, credit ratings analysts and others. Read more

John Gapper

A reader points out that, according to the software numbering system Microsoft itself uses, Windows 7 is really Windows 6 rather than, as I calculated, Windows 8.

Windows 95 was Windows 4 and Windows XP was Windows 5. Vista was Windows 6 and, under the hood, this week’s release counts as 6.1 – making it Windows 6 as well. Read more