In the latest attempt to curb popular, but illegal, free music downloads by providing a cheap, legal alternative, Apple Computer launched a new online service. The iTunes Music Store offers more than 200,000 songs at 99 cents each, with only minor copying restrictions. One music industry executive called the venture "a defining moment in the music business."
Spiegel Inc. said it plans to close 60 Eddie Bauer stores, pending bankruptcy court approval, as part of a restructuring plan. The clothing and home furnishings retailer previously announced it would shut all of its namesake Spiegel and Newport News outlets, while continuing catalog and online sales.
Deep job cuts were announced by three major employers in Europe:
• Ericsson, the world's largest supplier of wireless phone networking equipment, said it will lay off 7,000 more workers than previously announced after posting its eighth straight quarterly loss. The company reported a $517 million deficit for the three months ending March 31. Two years ago, Ericsson employed about 107,000 people. Its chief executive said, "The head count will approach 47,000 next year."
• Another 1,150 employees will be let go by Corus, the struggling British-Dutch steel company announced. It also warned that 2,200 additional jobs are endangered unless a plan to produce slab - rather than rolled - steel for the international market is successful. Corus already has cut more than 10,000 jobs over the past three years.
• Infineon Technologies, a leading maker of computer chips, will lay off up to 900 employees and is nearing "a final decision" on moving its headquarters to a country with lower corporate taxes, its chief executive officer announced. The company is based in Munich, and analysts said its relocation outside Germany would be an especially heavy blow to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, whose government already is presiding over a 10.6 percent unemployment rate as well as the bankruptcies of numerous major companies.