Lifestyle

Winners & Losers: Who's up, who's down

Apple, Bombardier, John Galliano and more.

?Apple
Technology

Steve Jobs made a triumphant return to the public eye this month to unveil Apple’s iPad 2, cementing the company’s position as leader in the emerging tablet category. A buoyant Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January, surprised the audience and drew a standing ovation when he strode onstage at the Apple launch in San Francisco on March 9. He began by highlighting the runaway success of the first iPad: Apple sold roughly 15 million tablets last year, generating US$9.5 billion in revenue for the company. The iPad’s popularity surpassed most analysts’ expectations and sent Apple’s competitors scrambling to develop their own tablets. Jobs even took a few digs at his rivals, dismissing their devices as “copycats.” As for the iPad 2, the new tablet boasts faster speeds and a sleeker design, weighing in 15% lighter than the first incarnation and 33% slimmer. What’s most impressive, however, is the aggressive release date. The iPad 2 will be available in more than two dozen countries later this month, before some competitors have even released their first tablets. The tardy PlayBook by Research In Motion, for example, might not be available until April.

?Charlie Sheen
Entertainment

Despite constant use of the term “winning” — and attracting more than two million Twitter followers — the actor has reportedly been fired from the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men for a rash of bizarre behaviour. Responding to suggestions he might be bipolar, Sheen said, “I’m bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.” Just not on network TV, for now.

?Karl Guttenberg
Politics

Previously regarded as a rising star in Teutonic politics, Germany’s defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, resigned amid allegations he plagiarized sizable swaths of his doctoral dissertation. Even support from Chancellor Angela Merkel could not save him. He was promptly replaced by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi?re, amid speculation the incident had seriously damaged Merkel’s credibility.

?Bombardier
Manufacturing

The Montreal company’s aerospace division says it received a firm order for between 50 and 120 business jets from NetJets, a large operator of business aircraft owned by Warren Buffett. Deliveries are to begin next year. Depending on how many jet options NetJets exercises, Bombardier stands to earn between US$2.8 billion and US$6.7 billion. Bombardier called it the largest single sale of business aircraft in its history.

?Android
Technology

Google had to face the downside of an open-platform operating system last week, removing from its Android App Market 21 applications that contained malware. Though a fix was quickly offered for users who downloaded the apps, the incident may make iPhones and BlackBerrys seem more appealing to security-conscious smartphone buyers.

?Sony
Gaming

Sony PlayStation 3 consoles travelling through the Netherlands to other countries are being stopped at the border and held in warehouses for 10 days, or longer. The holdup was caused by LG, which filed a patent infringement case against Sony over the PS3’s similarities to its own Blu-ray technology. If Sony can’t clear its name, it may be forced to pay LG millions of dollars. For now, its European retailers are at risk of running out of machines.

?HMV
Retail

The troubled music, games and books retailer issued a profit warning last month, sending its shares tumbling nearly 22%. The U.K.-based chain said it will not be in compliance with loan agreements at the end of its fiscal year in April, and also brought in advisers to help ease its debt load. British media reported that HMV might shutter Canadian operations in order to scale back.

?Quebecor
Management

Locked out for more than two years, 64% of workers at the Journal de Montreal voted on Feb. 26 to accept the latest offer from the newspaper’s management. Of the 253 unionized workers, 62 will return to their jobs. The rest will split a $20-million severance package. Union president Raynald Leblanc called it “a day of mourning.”

?Rajat Gupta
Finance

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Gupta, one of India’s most respected businessmen, of passing inside information to a New York hedge fund while serving as a Goldman Sachs board member. Gupta, a former executive with consulting firm McKinsey & Co., allegedly provided Raj Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group with numerous tips, including early notice of Warren Buffett’s US$5-billion investment in Goldman at the height of the financial crisis. In 2009, Rajaratnam was arrested for insider trading. None of the allegations against either man have been proven in court.

?John Galliano
Fashion

The celebrity fashion designer and creative director of Christian Dior was fired after allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks during a bar brawl in Paris. Video of a separate incident at a restaurant, in which a seemingly drunken Galliano hurled further racial slurs, also circulated online. In France, such remarks are illegal and punishable by up to six months in jail. Galliano will appear in court later this year.

?Oprah Winfrey
Entertainment

OWN, Winfrey’s two-month-old television network, is struggling to find an audience. According to Nielsen Co., roughly 135,000 viewers are watching the network at any given time. That’s 10% fewer eyeballs brought in by the channel OWN replaced, Discovery Health. Ratings could pick up when Winfrey ends her daytime talk show in September and spends more time at OWN.

?Canadian soccer
Sports

FIFA announced this month that Canada will be the host of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. (Canada won the honour after Zimbabwe, the only country vying to host the event, dropped out of the race.) The 24-team tournament will spread 52 matches among Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Moncton and Halifax. The federal government has reportedly earmarked $15 million for both this and the warm-up FIFA Women’s U-20 tournament in 2014. The Canadian women’s national team is currently ranked ninth in the world.

?Christy Clark
Politics

After three rounds of voting, Gordon Campbell’s former deputy premier was elected to replace him as the head of British Columbia’s Liberal party. Clark becomes the province’s second female premier but faces an immediate challenge: a June referendum on the harmonized sales tax, the policy that proved so damaging to her predecessor.