The mood of the past week was, in a word, gloomy. With the end of the year coming, many companies sought to get their financial houses in order, and that meant a bloodbath of layoffsl
And then, there were three companies, formerly benchmarks of success in the industry, who had a particularly bleak time of it: Sony, Take Two and Electronic Arts. Sony's Playstation 3 was called a holiday season sales dog, with CNN saying that the system is dying on the shelves
amid reports that it has fallen twice as far behind
the Xbox in sales since the latter system's debut, while major analysts lowered their earnings estimates
. Plus, Sony and Xbox both took a hit from a Bloomberg report that said Nintendo's sales figures might be making the industry as a whole look healthier than it is
Tech titan Apple faced questions about its future when it ended its association with Macworld Expo, leading people to wonder if it's preparing for life without Steve Jobs, whose health has been called into question again. The company's computers are also facing a slowdown in sales, probably due to the fact that their laptops are pricier than their PC counterparts.
Publishing continued to struggle with a financial and identity crisis, with financial publication The Deal cutting ten percent
of its staff and Macmillan Publishing eliminating 64 positions
. However, there are signs this may be more of a metamorphosis than a collapse, as the Macmillan announcement was coupled with news that they were launching a children's division, and the Detroit Media Partnership announced they would make sweeping changes based on digital delivery
. This industry will seem to be wobbly and in flux for awhile, but will ultimately land on its feet – although possibly in a radically different form.
The bedrock of all this may be the pessimistic economic news that came out this week, with CFOs of major companies saying the recession will last another year and the National Venture Capital Association saying that venture capitalists can't expect to raise significant money until 2010. While none of it comes as a surprise given the current climate, it's still disheartening to see.
So, was there any holiday cheer in the geek world at all? Well, cell phone gaming seems to be catching fire and growing hotter, with Apple touting the iPhone as a gaming console
and 505 Games saying it will include handhelds in its line of sports games
being developed in conjunction with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Core gamers seem to be keeping the industry alive
, and video for consoles continued to be an up-and-coming thing, with video-on-demand coming to the Wii in Japan
(meaning we may see in on these shores soon).
But, perhaps, the best thing of all is the realization that with the end of the year, the tide of layoffs may stem a little, and people can get on with the business with working toward a digital-lifestyle future. (Look for Fan to Pro's predictions for the coming year in the next week!)