Motorola Develops Split Personality

Motorola last week announced that it was planning to split into two companies -- one that makes cellular handsets, and another that produces wireless equipment and telecommunication components. The move comes in response to poor financials and a loss of focus and market share in the handset group.

This isn't the first time Motorola has spun off parts of itself in order to effect a change. Several years ago, the embedded processor group became Freescale Semiconductor. While Freescale is successful, there's some question about whether spinning off problematic units is the best strategy.

Have you used Motorola phones? By this time next year, they'll likely have a new name. Not being a BlackBerry kind of guy, my handset of choice is an LG; what's yours? Tell me at [email protected].

There's a Traffic Problem at Google
It's not a problem of too much traffic, but too little. According to research group comScore, February search traffic on Google fell 4.6 percent below January's level, and paid clicks fell 3 percent.

For a company that makes the vast bulk of its money through paid advertising, this represents a big chunk of change. Google's stock price has dropped over 30 percent since its high at over $700 a share at the beginning of the year.

Do you use Google for search, or have you been trying one of the other search engines? Has Google maxed out? Search me out at [email protected].

Cisco Preparing for Downturn?
In perhaps another indication that the U.S. and world economies aren't what they were a year ago, technology bellwether Cisco is reporting that it's cutting sales growth targets to 10 percent from 15 percent in the previous month.

Cisco -- long known as both an indicator of technology markets and a savvy forecaster of future economic trends -- has recently confirmed that sales aren't playing out as it expected. Supposedly, the company has told some managers to limit travel expenses and use up accumulated vacation days.

How's your employer doing? Staffing up or cutting back? Tell me if you can at [email protected].

Mailbag: Readers on Immigration, Enterprise Search and More
Doug reported yesterday on Bill Gates' appeal to Congress to loosen U.S. Visa rules to make it easier for companies to recruit workers from overseas. Doug happens to agree with Bill on this one, but some readers beg to differ:

Tell you where you are wrong? This article sums it up rather nicely.

You are wrong because the primary motivation for importing workers today, just like in the last half of the 19th century, is to reduce wages, not to get better workers. You can always be competitive if you don't pay your people anything. Especially if they can only stay here while they work for you. The idea that somehow people in India are smarter then people in the United States is a piece of disinformation promulgated by businessmen to justify forcing wages to subsistence.

If, as Billy claims, American schools produce idiots, why do so many foreigners come here to school? And count up Nobel winners over the last 40 years. I have no issues with immigrants, only with the way we use them to shave wage rates.

Regarding the H-1B Visa, you are not right on this issue and here is why:

  • Most H-1B Visa holders are paid in the lowest tier (tier 1) of a four-tier scale. In short, most H-1B holders are paid entry-level wages. (Source: Sen. Durbin)
  • Research of LCA data indicated that the average H-1B worker in IT was paid $16,000 less than their American counterpart. (Sen. Berry)
  • "Prevailing wage" is defined well below market wage. There is no labor protection from prevailing wage laws since the definition doesn't match the market rate. (Durbin)
  • Microsoft was NOT forced to open offices in Canada. That decision was made long ago. It has already admitted that the H-1B had nothing to do with the decision.
  • H-1B workers are not able to easily change jobs. If they do, they go to the back of the Green Card line. This is what makes the program an indentured servant program. So if you have a soft spot for immigrants (which I do since my stepmother, brothers and wife are all immigrants) we would want them to be able to be on level footing as other workers.

As a practical matter, I think we should incorporate the Durbin/Grassley legislation with a higher H-1B cap. That legislation stops many of the nefarious practices that we see today. If we streamlined the Green Card process and stopped the most rampant abusers of the program, I think everyone (including Bill Gates) would get the skilled labor they need. Based on the numbers I provided you with, you can see right away that the majority of people coming here are entry-level workers, so this program is not really about the best and brightest. We should change that -- and make it competitive.

I think the problem with my side is that there are people in the anti-immigrant community who have been pushing this issue, so everyone opposed to the H-1B is seen as anti-immigrant. So my question for anyone who is pro-(legal) immigrant is this: Do you think we should allow corporations to control the ability of workers to change jobs or not? Do you believe that people should be compelled to work for companies who don't treat them fairly?

I think that allowing smart people to come into this country is a great idea (all my grandparents came from Norway). What I don't agree with is the current policy that ties a person to one company if they ever hope to get a green card or citizenship.

The day of the indentured servant is gone. We can require immigrants to hold a job or go home (I don't even object to them leaving a bond for return airfare). But we should allow them to get the best paying job they can qualify for. If someone doesn't want to pay them what they are worth, they should be able to take another job without it affecting their immigration status. We should not allow a company to keep people working at lower wages than others in what amounts to treating them as indentured servants. Reform this, and let's make the whole job market really competitive.

But a few of you wrote in to express agreement -- not just on the immigration issue, but on Doug's opinion that Microsoft OneNote is too...well, one-note and Windows-centric:

You are correct about OneNote. It is also why Microsoft really needs an infusion of new blood. People without a monopoly mentality.

Regarding you thoughts on enterprise search, I generally agree with you. Note that USAF has embraced MS desktop search and included it in its latest Standard Desktop Configuration (SDC), whereas domain policy forcibly removed Google Desktop search several months ago.

As for Bill Gates and immigration, I strongly agree with you on this one.

Both of your versions of immigration (illegal versus controlled and educated) have a drastic impact on our economy. From the illegal side, many of the criminal element come in that would be stopped with controlled immigration. This causes a huge impact on our police and legal system. Also, many illegal immigrants apply for and are given benefits they are not entitled to, which drains our taxes from much needed areas. We can thank our former and current federal representatives and presidents for this.

For your controlled educated side, someone willing to work for much less will put someone with the same qualifications out of work. If that legal immigrant got the job and an American citizen loses their job, now you have another person on the welfare/unemployment line. Either way, this causes a further tax burden on those who work and pay taxes.

The immigration problem would be solved if we just took care of our own people, the working people. It's time to invest in America, not think short-term and save a buck. You vote, don't you?

I am a first-generation American (my parents came from Hungary after the failed revolt against the communists in the '50s). I whole-heartedly agree that making it easier for immigrants to become legal residents in this country while at the same time cracking down on illegal immigrants (no amnesty) is the way to go. I also agree that we should encourage those that come to our country to learn in our universities to stay in our wonderful country and make life better for all.

Finally, Google may have flubbed when it recently turned its page black to make a point about conserving energy -- in effect using more energy than it takes to keep its page looking normal. Here are some of your thoughts:

I'm not surprised one bit. There's glaring hypocrisy from all the elite (Hollywood, big business, etc.) concerning going green. They like to fly around in personal jets, own amazingly huge homes that require tons of power to heat and cool, etc. Don't get me wrong -- more power to them! I'm of the camp that believes if you work hard, you should enjoy what you earn. What I don't like is preaching and the hypocrisy. They all like to talk the talk but most don't seem to walk the walk.

You caught my attention when you declared that a black screen consumes more electricity than a white one. I used to be an electronics technician and taught electronics classes for several years.

A CRT only generates light (think white screen) when electrons flow from the cathode to the phosphorescent coating on the screen. The electrons are then drained away by the lead coating on the edges (funnel) of the screen. This completes a circuit and therefore is a flow of electricity, or current. If the screen is black, the neck of the electron gun holds a negative charge to prevent the flow of electrons to the screen surface. The flow of electrons is ceased and therefore you are not completing a circuit in that component of the CRT and are therefore using less electricity.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.


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