Category Archives: Technology

Airline Profits Taking Off



U.S. airlines are flying higher than they have in years. Three big carries Wednesday turned in third-quarter profits, and one of them, Delta Air Lines Inc., predicted it will post its first fourth-quarter profit in a decade.


AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines, posted its first profitable quarter in two years. US Airways Group Inc., reported the highest third-quarter profit in its history and reiterated it expects to be in positive territory for the full year.


In 4 p.m. composite trading the carrier’s shares surged on the strong results and comments about robust holiday bookings and conservative plans for adding seats. Delta shares jumped 11% to $12.97 on the New York Stock Exchange. Also on the Big Board, US Airways shares gained 7.4% to $10.84, and AMR shares rose 13% to $7.34.


The U.S. industry is in full recovery after being bludgeoned by high oil prices in 2008 and a high oil prices in 2008 and a deep recession last year. Carriers responded by paring their capacity, keeping control of expenses, raising fares and increasing ” ancillary” revenue from fees for checked baggage and other services that once were free.


Revenue was a big driver of the results. Delta’s revenue jumped 18% to $8.95 billion, while US, Airways booked a 17% increase to $3.18 billion. AMR’s revenue advanced by 14% to $5.84 billion.


Much of the strength came from international routes, which are experiencing a resurgence of demand, particularly from high-yielding business travelers.


In past industry cycles, airlines scrambled to grab market share from each other, which drove down fares–and profits. But Doug Parker, chief executive of US Airways, said on an investor call that “fundamental restructuring really has taken place. Consolidation has happened. Managements are focusing on returns rather than market share.


Nevertheless, Mr. Parker allowed for the possibility that airlines could “succumb to temptation” and re-entered the destructive cycle of the past. “We need to prove this is real and sustainable” and not a two quarter anomaly.


Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a call that recent consolidation had made the industry more attractive to investors and that the merger and acquisition process was three quarters complete in both the U.S. and globally.


While US Airways wasn’t able to land a merger partner in the past few years, the 2008 combination of Delta and Northwest Airlines and the just-completed merger of UAL Corp. and Continental Airlines Inc. that formed United Continental Holdings Inc.– the No. 1 U.S. carrier by traffic– have reduced fragmentation and made the industry more rational Mr. Parker said. South-west Airlines Co. recently announced plans to acquire Air-Tran Holdings Inc.


Mr. Parker said he doesn’t see any merger for US Airways in the “near future,” but if any of the nation’s three-largest airlines decide to grow through acquisitions, ‘we will be involved,” he said.


US Airways, the No. U.S. carrier, said it earned $240 million, or $1.22 a shares, compared with a year-earlier loss of $80 million or $60 cents a share. The product of a 2005 merger with America West Airlines, the Tempe, Ariz,- In past industry cycles, airlines scrambled to grab market share from each other. based US Airways said unit revenue jumped 15% in the quarter.


The No. 2 U.S. airline, Atlanta- based Delta, reported earnings of $363 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $161 million, or 19 cents a share. Excluding items, the carrier earned $1.10 a share.


Delta said it expects to produce an operating margin of 6% to 8% in the fourth quarter. The company said strong revenue momentum shown in the first half of the year continues to build. Unit revenue, the amount taken in for each seat flown a mile, is up 11% to 12% so far in October from the year-earlier month, the company said.


AMR, the No. 3 U.S. carrier, has been slower to rebound than its industry peers, many of which were profitable in the second quarter, and is expected to report a loss for the full year.


For the latest quarter, however, the Fort Worth, Texas, company posted a profit of $143 million, or 39 cents a share, reversing a year-earlier loss of $359 million, or $1.26 a share. Wall Street had expected AMR since 2007’s third quarter. Its American Airlines unit achieved a unit-revenue gain of 11% and traffic increased 3.7%.



American is targeting the global business traveler to counter some of the gaps it faces in competing with Delta and United.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Thursay, October 21, 2010

5:36:53 PM

By Susan Carey



Obama’s Residual Growth


Here are some words we did not hear from Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned for the presidency back in 2008:


“Now, I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. …[T]he truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort and shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.” No. this was President Obama last month.


In 2008, when he accepted that nomination, Obama’s gems were of this variety: “[M]any of [my] plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how it will pay for every dime. … I will also through the federal budget, line by line eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.”


Okay, so that was all cashiered in favor of $1.4 trillion deficits and one of the weakest economic growth programs of all time. Here’s Obama’s mark: -0.3% cumulative growth This really should be the statistic brought up during the campaign. Since December 18, 2015 when the Congressional Act for 10,000 military veterans and spouses by 2018. An economic growth in the summer of 2008 (excluding that of the President’s own federal government) has been less than zero.


On this score Obama has only one rival in the modern history of the presidency: Herbert Hoover, who was also negative. Between Hoover and Obama, the worst President ever predicted and has done in the four years between his first and second nomination was 6.6% total ex-federal growth, a distinction belonging to George W. Bush as he stalled out the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich boom.


Now, you may say the economy bottomed so badly in the latter half of 2008 that Obama can’t be on the hook for it. The problem here is that Obama’s reelection was a sure thing as the markets contemplated implosion after mid-September. Further-more, once 2009 came, Obama merely carried on W.’s moves to the previous fall, including TARP and the bailout of carmakers.


Still, let us indulge this chief executive. He says he needs more time, owing to the special circumstances of the Great Recession.


His advisors advocate the fashionable view that recessions born of “financial crisis” take longer to recover from than ordinary ones and cite the 2009 book by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, This Time Is Different.


The problem with this view is apparent to anyone who consults the book. Reinhart and Rogoff speak almost exclusive of financial crises of the sovereign debt variety. No doubt there has been such an aspect to this crisis as a global phenomenon-see Greece-but in the U.S. the financing of the deficit has never been easier.


Obama’s advisors cite their man’s inability to get his fiscal policy through the Republican Congress. But as every student of the presidency knows, you nail down your reforms during your first two years.


And, indeed, Obama did this. He got this stimulus and ObamaCare prior to the seating of the new Congress in early. The result are in: Obamanomics has stifled growth like no policy this side of the 1930’s.


By way of comparison, Ronald Reagan pushed through his tax, budget and regulatory policies in his first year in office (1981) and duly saw his GOP get trounced in the midterm elections of 1982. Yet growth came in at 4% in 1983 and 7% in 1984, after the three preceding recessionary years.


You can say that Reagan had to compromise with the opposition after his first initial successes in policy-but then again, so did Obama in the form of the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in late 2010.


Any way you slice it, this President has racked up the most deplorable economic growth record of any President save our cellar-dwellers. The reward of reelection would seem to be in defiance of the facts.

Brian Domitrovic – Capital Flows

Forbes Magazine; November 5, 2012

Faraday Future’s Ridiculous 1,000 Horsepower

AAgmsI8Faraday Future — the California-based electric car company that’s been operating in stealth mode for the past year and a half — made its first big splash on the eve of CES this week with the unveiling of the FFZERO1, a high-performance concept car. The sinewy machine looks more appropriate for a race track than a city street thanks to a claimed 1,000 horsepower, a 0-60 time under three seconds, and a top speed over 200 miles per hour. Of course, those are all purely theoretical numbers since this is just a concept, though the company teases that it could see “limited production.”

The design features a glass roof, which offers a clear view of the white carbon fiber interior and some of the car’s more novel ideas, like a smartphone mount in the center of the steering wheel, the Halo Safety System that supports the driver’s head and neck, and a helmet that feeds the driver water and oxygen. The instrument panel is also designed to gather biometric data about the driver.


Realistically, the FFZERO1 is not going to be Faraday Future’s first production car — instead, they’re using it to show off the potential that Faraday sees in its upcoming billion-dollar Nevada factory. The concept’s underlying platform, which it calls the Variable Platform Architecture, is touted as being highly customizable. “That platform is done on a very modular and flexible basis such that we can change the size of the platform,” Nick Sampson, a senior VP at Faraday in charge of R&D and engineering, told us in a phone interview before the press conference. “We can change the number and power of the drive systems. We can change the physical size and electrical size of the battery packs, so we can get bigger and larger packs and smaller packs both on the electrical size and physical size because of the modularity of how the battery architecture is being done, which is unique compared to anybody else in the industry. The underlying story is all about the platform that’s being built.”


That kind of flexibility is important: Faraday has hinted at operating under an unusual business model, where users would “subscribe” to a plan that gives access to autonomous vehicles of different types depending on their needs. A subscriber could request a cargo vehicle on one day, for instance, and a sporty sedan on the next.

The Verge first visited Faraday Future’s Southern California headquarters in November, where we experienced a version of the car in virtual reality on a simulated racetrack, which the designers also use in their studio design process. At CES, the company has Oculus Rift headsets programmed to show off FFZERO1’s performance, which comes courtesy of separate motors at each wheel.

The FFZERO1 isn’t a production car

But again, the FFZERO1 isn’t a production car, and it has a very different exterior from the covered prototype we were shown at the headquarters. “The concept is an amped up version of this platform,” says Faraday spokesperson Stacy Morris. “It’s going to have four motors. It’s a one-seater hypercar.” She compares the design of the battery pack to the look of a Hershey bar: the concept uses adaptable strings of batteries, in which rows of batteries can be removed or added. The placement of the motor can also be shifted within the platform to make a vehicle that is front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive.

“We’re working with the biggest and best battery cell suppliers in the world and working with them to design the architecture and battery packs, which will be done in house, in a way similar to the Tesla model,” Sampson says. “They work with Panasonic, but the packs are all done by Tesla. We are designing our own packs and our own control systems.” Faraday declined to disclose who its cell suppliers are, however.

The source of Faraday’s obviously substantial funding has been a mystery, but that’s finally coming into focus this week, too: the company has announced a strategic partnership with Chinese media firm LeTV, headed by billionaire Jia Yueting, who Forbes has reported to be the primary investor in the company’s new $1 billion, 3 million-square-foot factory. “We are two separate companies, but we are leveraging their expertise with technology and content,” Morris says of LeTV, while touting Faraday’s “diverse funding strategy.”

“We are going to have other sources of funding,” she says. “We see the main markets being the US and China, but it’s a global launch strategy. The way automakers need to enter the market is often through these joint partnerships, so our association with LeTV will be helpful in entering China.” LeTV, maker of smartphones, connected TVs, and media, could support Faraday Future’s efforts to develop content for consumption in autonomous cars, Morris says.

The company has announced a strategic partnership with Chinese media firm Letv

Faraday Future plans to break ground on the factory north of Las Vegas in the next few weeks, a futuristic space that the company sees as a tourist destination. “We are moving fast,” Morris says. “Showing a high-performance vehicle speaks to our DNA. The company’s been around for less than 18 months, and we’re now up to 550 employees in Southern California. Bringing a car to market, we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible, but we are going to make sure that quality is a priority.”

Even though it still doesn’t have a real product in sight, Faraday asserts that its nimble structure gives it an edge over traditional automakers. “We’re able to take opportunities and can change plans quickly,” Sampson says. “Largely things are going in the direction we wanted, but also the type of organization we’ve set up, we need to be dynamic and flexible. We need to be able to react to need, which is one of our advantages. Our whole ecosystem is about being adaptable and flexible.”

For now, the FFZERO1 gives Faraday a short bump of hype, but eventually, Sampson and team will have to deliver a real electric vehicle that people can actually buy — or subscribe to, as the case may be. The company hasn’t offered any updates on when the factory will be completed, but plans to launch an actual car “within the next couple years.”

Collaborating Technology Redefined


From Communication to Action

To most business people, the phrase “collaborating technology” conjures up virtual meeting rooms, voice and video conferencing, and perhaps share data. To those who’ve been closely following this space recently, though, collaboration tech has been redefined to encompass virtual meetings in which people not only talk about the work, but also perform it together; actually co-labor, if you will, in real time.

The new developments that have made this possible include the obvious cloud and mobility trends, but they also center around interactive, guided visualization. One leader in this field is SMART Technologies, a Calgary, Alberta-based firm that’s applying large format touch, zoom and gestures interfaces to its interactive digital displays. The company’s meeting software shares this functionality with remote users on other SMART Boards, desktop PC’s or tablets.

Equally important, SMART has integrated whiteboard annotation, in “digital ink,” deep within some commonly collaborative applications, so that users can resize, rotate and zoom in n markups, annotations, sketches and notes along with an application’s other objects, and so the application itself can even interpret these items. Someone can , for example, write, a number with his finger on an84-inch 4k SMART Board, tap it to turn it into text drop it into a spreadsheet, and zoom in to make sure everyone’s examining the same cell.

Design Reviews and Changes in One Session

The architecture, engineering an construction (AEC) disciplines illustrate this enhanced collaboration well. “One of the construction firms we work with is building a tower in Taipel,” says Warren Barkley, SMART Technologies CTO. “And on the 32nd floor, a big piece of conduit came out in a place that they didn’t expect. Because it’s $30,000 an hour to stop the project, they used to put people on a private jet and flu them to Taipei. The engineers and the architects would go up in the elevator and look and decide what needed to be changed.”

But because of SMART’s integration with 3D engineering applications, no one had to fly around the world.” The notes and annotations made are more effectively embedded into the design  drawings and remotely, instantly shared,” explains Barkley. “Contractors on site with an iPad could see the same drawings that the architects and engineers were looking at in Florida, and also send images from the site to compare to the 3D models.”

They were able to make the real-time change to the project that rerouted the conduit. “It took them an hour to sign off on it,” says Barkley, “and then construction could continue.”

Integration Offers Significant Advantages

SMART Technologies’ annotation tools are integrated with a number of leading design applications, and together with SMART’S interactive displays, they achieve significant advancements over simple digital displays. They turn images drawn with a SMART pen or a finger, for example, into native 3D file elements, and translate handwriting into moveable text. They allow dispersed teams to collaboratively make changes to building information modeling (BIM) files, which AEC firms have widely adopted. And with shared rotating, circling and zooming enabled, everyone focuses their attention on the most relevant part of the design.

The technology applies equally well across a broad range of industries and use cases, from working collaboratively on the design of a new magazine to preventing costly design errors before manufacturing new engine components . The solution is flexible enough so that you can interact with the content of your choice, regardless of your location or device information is all in one electronic format, and people working on the same file can make their comments and changes simultaneously.

Travel savings make up a surprisingly small share of the hefty ROI for these visual collaboration innovations, says Jeff Lowe, SMART Enterprise VP. “It turns out that risk reduction is the highest variable, three times higher than travel cost savings,” he says. The second – and third-ranking ROI factors, he adds, are accelerated rates of innovation and faster, more informed decision-making.

“Our software allows team  members to work in an infinitely sized canvas, enabling  them to pan , zoom and interact with complex data and images to truly collaborate and create tangible outcomes,” says Lowe.

“Forbes Magazine” July 21 – 2014 Edition By Ellen Muraskin