A weak economy treats the mighty and the meek all the same — especially when the meek aren’t buying what the mighty are trying to sell.

Consumer electronics icon Sony Corp. has announced it will lay off 16,000 workers and take other drastic measures to slash costs in the face of seriously slumping sales. The company is aiming to save at least (US)$1.1 billion next year.

In October, Sony reported that demand for its high-end flat-screen TVs and digital cameras was way down. At the same time, market researchers were predicting disappointing year-end holiday sales for all classes of gift goods, compounding the situation. All of which added up to a major restructuring initiative for Sony.

Sony says it will cut 8,000 full-time jobs — about four per cent of its total workforce — and terminate another 8,000 contract employees over the next few months.

It will also close at least one in every ten of its 57 manufacturing plants worldwide and reduce R&D investment by about 30 per cent in 2009.

Sony is the latest electronics and entertainment giant to officially fall on hard times as a result of the economic crisis which has come to a head over the past few months. Just last week, telecommunications giant AT&T announced it would lay off 12,000 employees as part of its attempt to cope with plummeting revenues.

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