On The Radar
What To Watch In The Weeks Ahead
(FORTUNE Magazine) - Gates' Next Conquest: Your Hip Pocket
Poor RIM (Research). For months it's been fighting off an assault on the patents for its Blackberry handhelds. Now Microsoft (Research) is adding to its headaches. In mid-February, Gates & Co. unveiled the latest in Windows Mobile technology, Direct Push, which streamlines synchronization between handhelds and desktop e-mail. This spring, a host of devices featuring the software will roll out, including a new HP iPAQ. Direct Push could save buckets of cash for Blackberry-dependent companies that already shell out for Microsoft's e-mail servers and software--a switch to Windows Mobile would eliminate the extra server and licensing fees required to support fleets of Blackberries. Don't expect an overnight blight on Blackberries, but a cheaper option could put mobile e-mail in the hands of more employees, not just the top suits.
Airing Out Fannie Mae's Dirty Laundry
Two years after the accounting scandal at Fannie Mae (Research) first made headlines, we still don't know exactly what transpired at the mortgage giant. What we do know: Fannie allegedly abused accounting for derivatives, misused tax credits, underreported credit losses, and overvalued its assets. (Restatements are estimated at around $11 billion so far.) With the release of former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman's internal investigation report, due by early March, we should finally get some clarity as to what disgraced former CEO Franklin Raines and former CFO Tim Howard really knew. And did new CEO Dan Mudd, who served under Raines as COO, have any idea of what was going on? Let the finger-pointing begin.
Forget investors. Come fall, when Warren Buffett begins dispensing fiscal tips on an animated TV show, kids may be the ones hanging on his every word. Producer Andy Heyward impressed Buffett with a historical cartoon (and movies for Berkshire Hathaway (Research) annual meetings). "If he can do something to educate kids about money it will be a very good thing," says Buffett. A group of fifth-graders taught him how to catch kids' attention: "I talked about the secret formula [for Coca-Cola (Research)], and as soon as I used the word 'secret' every hand flew up. " The show's name? The Secret Millionaire's Club.
The Futures Market
Feb. 28 Harvard boss Larry Summers faces another faculty no-confidence vote. The last attempt to oust him was vetoed by the university's governing board.
March 1 Delta pilots must agree to wage concessions before an arbitration panel takes over, which pilots say would lead their union to strike.
March 8 OPEC heads gather in Vienna, but don't expect much relief at the pump--they aren't likely to raise production levels.
March 10 Disney's (Research) annual meeting means it's time to explain just why shareholders should be excited to shell out $7.4 billion to acquire Pixar Animation. Look for a big production.
March 18 The Senate must boost the government's credit limit before taking off on its spring break and will likely cap the legal debt ceiling at about $8.9 trillion.