Tech Roundup: Boston Lay-Offs, Google and Yahoo, Feds Eye Cable Prices, More

Last Updated Nov 5, 2008 11:58 AM EST

Boston tech sees layoffs, offers buzz-off to students -- A number of Boston-area companies beyond the brand-new-what-color-should-we-make-the-logo tech companies are finding themselves laying off people in reaction to the current economic climate and in anticipation of more to come. That's fine, because according to Scott Kirsner, who has been a long-time watcher of the area's industry, business associations make it clear that they don't want students involved, raising the chance that they'll head off elsewhere for jobs anyway. [Source: Boston Globe, Innovation Economy]

Google and Yahoo: pretty please, may we? -- Google and Yahoo are reportedly ready to limit revenue from their ad deal in hopes of charming the Department of Justice into blessing the quasi-union. And what can that move hurt? Google's already swimming in money, so anything more is gravy, and Yahoo is in such a state that anything could help. [Source: Ars Technica]

Manufacturing hits 26-year low -- The Institute for Supply Management has pegged the conditions of the manufacturing sector at its lowest since 1982, which is a pretty bad vintage for comparison. This affects tech both directly and indirectly. Manufacturing certainly includes all the facilities that build gadgets, electronics, and other things that come under the technology rubric. But more important are the indirect issues. Every slowdown means less spending on better technology for more efficient manufacturing. That hits software, servers and workstations, networking, wireless, high tech equipment controllers, and allt he people who might otherwise be employed designing, selling, and supporting all the products and services that high tech would have sold to manufacturing. Old economy or new, we'll all go together when we go. [Source: Washington Post]

Television pricing in fed sites -- You'd think that the cable industry, along with other forms of Internet service providers, would have had enough federal scrutiny on its hands when it came to privacy. Apparently not. The FCC has opened an investigation into the pricing policies of large cable companies and other carriers of programming, like Verizon, and whether they are using the switch of broadcast television from analog to digital as an excuse to move analog channels on basic cable to digital cable, charging more in the process. [Source: BNET Industry Technology Blog, Ars Technica]

Cheap gadgets the rage this holiday season -- Consumers are shifting their purchasing approaches. They're still buying gadgets, only fewer of them and the ones they get are cheaper. About a fifth of TigerDirect's sales are now refurbished products, which means that the vendors get little to nothing, unless they're doing the refurbishing. At least the retailers have a silver lining: when consumers see the reliability of reworked electronics, they might end up spending more on margin-building extended warranties. [Source:]

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.