Consumer Confidential: 'Cuddle class' to New Zealand, Ford profit soars, Apple-Sony merger (not)
Here's your take-it-to-the-bridge Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
-- Flying from L.A. to New Zealand? Our friends at Air New Zealand have a nifty new feature to help pass the time. Beginning in April, the airline will offer a "cuddle class" on select flights boasting economy seats that can be converted into couches. A trio of seats could be booked and then used by couples who want to stretch out or families with little ones who could use the space more comfortably. No word yet on how much cuddle class will cost, but it seems like a swell way to make long-haul flights more palatable.
-- Happy days for Ford. The one major U.S. car maker that didn't declare bankruptcy has reported a record quarterly profit of $1.7 billion, up 69% from a year before. The company credits its success to strong sales and aggressive cost cutting. "Overall, we are doing better than we expected through the first nine months of the year," says Alan Mulally, Ford's chief exec, "and we expect to deliver solid profits in the fourth quarter and for the full year." The company plans to pay down some debt, including money owed to the retiree healthcare trust of union workers.
-- Shares of Sony popped higher amid speculation that the Japanese electronics company could be purchased by Apple. But just as quickly, Sony lost ground as Wall Street analysts poured cold water on the idea of a merger. Apple has more than $50 billion in cash on hand, so it's possible the company plans to do a little corporate shopping. But I agree with those who say Sony would be a bad fit. Sure, you'd get the PlayStation, which would be cool, but you'd also get a company that just can't find its way in a post-Walkman world. Maybe Apple would be interested in a slightly used newspaper ...
-- David Lazarus