Still Cutting, Still Bleeding (3/23/01)
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It's kind of like watching a train derail in slow motion; we know we're witnessing a horrible event, but we simply can't look away. 2500 layoffs in January. 4000 more in February. 7000 just ten days ago. At that point, we were forced to assume that Motorola had enrolled in some kind of "Pink Slip of the Month" club, or maybe it was just an aggressively accelerating weight-loss program. At that rate, we had pretty much resigned ourselves to see perhaps another 13,000 jobs cut in April, 28,000 in May, and so on until the last man standing was in charge of turning out all the lights before throwing himself under a truck with a pink slip stapled to his shirt.

Instead, though, Motorola has sort of jumped ahead of schedule. According to a CNNfn article delicately pointed out to us by faithful viewer Sunflower, despite the fact that it's still March, the Big M has just shed yet another 4000 jobs from its increasingly slimmer frame. CNNfn claims that this latest round brings the total to "about 23,000" since December, so apparently we missed a few at some point along the line. (That's not hard for us to believe, given how often the headcount reductions are coming through; we briefly stopped watching Motorola last week to catch "The Simpsons," so we probably missed another 5000 jobs cuts during that half-hour break. And the remaining 500 pink slips could've snuck right by us one of those times we blinked.)

Thankfully (at least from a Mac user's perspective, if not necessarily a stockholder's one), these latest cuts are once again from Motorola's mobile phone end of the business, so they shouldn't directly affect the production of the PowerPCs that make our Macs go vrroom. Still, the company's accelerating spiral towards having a personnel directory that fits easily on a single piece of paper-- in 14-point type, no less-- has to be giving somebody at Apple a Maalox moment. Publicly, Steve Jobs continues to deny that there's any chance whatsoever that Mac OS X will ever run on x86 processors, but we sure hope Apple has some kind of Plan B up its sleeve. It's still way too early to start writing Motorola's obituary, of course, but if 23,000 job cuts in three months isn't valid cause for concern, the world's gotten far too optimistic for our tastes.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 3/23/01 episode:

March 23, 2001: Apple prepares for the Mac OS X rollout by expanding its tech support call center. Meanwhile, a couple of classic Jobs moments emerged from Wednesday's press briefing, and Motorola lops off another 4000 jobs, because why mess with tradition?...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2943: Apple: Ready For Trouble (3/23/01)   Only one day left! Unless you're a software pirate, a developer with connections, a users group representative, a member of the press, or lucky enough to live near a Staples store run by people with an overly-lax definition of the phrase "Do Not Sell Until Saturday," tomorrow is the first day you can get your hands on Mac OS X...

  • 2944: "Do Not Provoke The CEO" (3/23/01)   You know, we're really starting to regret not having been invited to Apple's big Mac OS X press briefing last Wednesday. What, no engraved personal invite from Steve, just because of the niggling little detail that we're not actually "press"?...

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