TV-PGAugust 22, 2001: Motorola backpedals slightly and announces that if its chip business doesn't pick up, it's bye-bye semiconductors. Meanwhile, Apple beats us to an Emmy (which it's winning for creating FireWire), and our fevered dreams suggest that non-education customers might want to wait a couple of days before buying a new PowerBook...
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Get Profitable Or Get Sold (8/22/01)

We all know that Motorola has been "troubled" for the past year or so, what with the thousands of layoffs, the plant closings, its first quarterly loss in years, and the sale of hundreds of lower-echelon employees to human toxicity testing labs and pet food companies in order to raise some quick cash. (Okay, that last one is apocryphal, but if it's not true yet, wait a few more months; if things keep going at this rate, Rover will be feasting on Dog Chow "Now With More Secretary And Janitor-y Goodness!" before you know it.) Most recently, analysts have taken to suggesting that Motorola sell off its semiconductor business in order to focus on mobile phones and returning to profitability. Motorola, however, wouldn't hear of it; making chips is one of its "core businesses," it has steadfastly maintained.

Until now, that is. As faithful viewer Andrew pointed out, Motorola is hedging a little, and has softened its stance of "you'll take our semiconductor unit when you pry it from our cold, dead, red ink-stained fingers" just a smidge; a Reuters article reports that Motorola's president recently told a pack of analysts that unless the company's chip business can shape up within an unspecified time period, "the board and senior management would consider a sale or spinoff of the business." (If this event ever comes to pass, we recommend that Motorola change its name to "Just Phones." It's snappier, right?)

In fact, according to Motorola, this is less of a flip-flop than a clarification of its existing stance, which was simply misunderstood; "there are no sacred cows here... the present level of financial performance of [the semiconductor business] cannot be tolerated." Woo, harsh words indeed. We suspect that these statements are as much to light a fire under the chip unit's butt as they are to assure the analysts that money-losing business units will be mercilessly cut in order to Maximize Shareholder Value. It's a cruel and vicious game, to be sure, but hey, that's business.

So what does this mean to those of you banking on Apple buying up Motorola's PowerPC assets? Well, put it in neutral, folks, because analysts expect that Motorola's internal deadline for turning the chip business around is "a three-to-five year time frame," which isn't exactly the speed of light. Plus, if Motorola does put the entire chip business up for sale, at least one analyst figures it would cost about $9 billion-- Apple has a lot of cash, yes, but not that much. So the best we can hope for is that Motorola decides to sell off the business in chunks, and that Apple can score a sweet deal on the rights to the PowerPC alone. Would Motorola be receptive to such an offer? Heck, anything to keep the rest of the support staff from winding up in the Meow Mix, right?

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I'd Like To Thank My Agent... (8/22/01)

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. It's bad enough that Buffy couldn't score an Emmy nomination for "The Body," which was easily one of the most powerful hours of television ever to hit us in the chest like an emotional freight train. On top of that, after nearly four full seasons on the air and numerous awards from other organizations, AtAT has still never been nominated for an Emmy, daytime or otherwise-- a fact which we're finding it harder and harder not to interpret as a deliberate snub by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. But to top it all off, what do we discover today? That Apple-- Apple!-- is receiving an Emmy award before we are. Clearly there is no justice in this world.

Faithful viewer Daveness delicately broke the news to us by forwarding a New York Times article discussing Apple's imminent engineering Emmy for FireWire, the high-speed peripheral interconnect bus that's got Hollywood all abuzz. No, they're not giving Apple an Emmy for making high-speed CD-RW drives easier to hook up; this award's all about cheap and lossless video editing whether in the studio or on the go. You know, TV producers editing video footage in the air between New York and L.A. like it ain't no thang; all that jazz. That's evidently enough of a contribution to the wonderful world of television to rate an Emmy these days. (Incidentally, if any of you were still worried that USB 2.0 would kill off FireWire, it's probably safe to put those fears to rest.)

We suppose this is the part where we're supposed to grin through tightly-clenched teeth and say just how happy we are for Apple's success. And, indeed, we are pretty thrilled that FireWire is finally getting the recognition it deserves; we're the first to admit that being able to plug our camcorder into our PowerBook and edit raw footage into something approaching a gripping and semi-professional-looking piece of work is nothing short of miraculous. Now if iMovie only came with more transitions, we could really break into the big time. (We're hurting for a Star Wipe. Bad.)

Meanwhile, we figure we'll just settle into our predestined role as the Susan Lucci of net-based soaps and sit through the remainder of our own eighteen-year wait for recognition by the Academy. Surely at least our t-shirts should qualify us for a costuming nomination; geez, even Buffy's been nominated in past years for best hairstyling...

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Someone Pass The Maalox (8/22/01)

It figures that we'd have to learn the hard way. Food Safety Rule Number One: if you find takeout Chinese food in the back of the fridge that's so old you can't even remember ordering it, don't eat it. Food Safety Rule Number Two: if you ignore Food Safety Rule Number One and, halfway through the meal, you realize that said Chinese food is actually takeout Mexican food that has undergone a wondrous and vile transmogrification over the course of relative fridge eons, stop eating immediately and seek medical attention. Corollary to Food Safety Rules One and Two: if you survive the event, get ready for some seriously messed up dreams.

Suffice it to say that the AtAT staff was visited by some rather wild visions in the night, and given our uncanny tendency to dream accurate premonitions of future PowerBook events, we figured we'd pass this info on to you, sans any sort of guarantee or explanation. We saw a long, rickety rope bridge stretching across a yawning chasm; on the near side was Today, and on the far side was Saturday. Dozens of PowerBook G4s flew through the air over the bridge like giant titanium butterflies. Prospective PowerBook customers started to cross the bridge, one by one. Those who grabbed a PowerBook before reaching the other side found that the extra 5.3 pounds sent them hurtling into the Lake of Debt beneath. The ones who waited until crossing the bridge to Saturday plucked PowerBooks from the air and survived with their credit reports unscathed.

What does it all mean, you ask? We can't really say, other than to suggest that if you were about to rush out and buy a PowerBook today or tomorrow, your bank account just might be happier if you were to wait a couple of days longer... unless you're an education customer, that is, in which case, what are you waiting for? The price drops as reported at Go2Mac are too good to pass up! Otherwise, something tells us that those tax relief checks are going to look like small potatoes to regular customers delaying their PowerBook purchases for another forty-eight hours or so. Call it a gut feeling-- and after having eaten that leftover takeout, trust us-- we know all about "gut feelings."

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