Apple nears a $1 trillion market cap as it clears another quarter ahead of expectations

Apple nears a trillion market cap as it clears another quarter ahead of expectations

Apple is inching closer and closer to becoming a $1 trillion company today after posting third-quarter results that beat what analysts were expecting and bumping the stock another few percentage points — which, by Apple standards, is tens of billions of dollars.

The company’s stock is up around 2.5 percent this afternoon after the report, which at a prior market close with a market cap of around $935 billion, is adding nearly another $20-plus billion to its market cap. A few quarters ago we were talking about how Apple was in shooting distance of that $1 trillion mark, but now it seems more and more like Apple will actually hit it. Apple is headed into its most important few quarters as we hit the back half of the year, with its usual new lineup of iPhones and other products and its accompanying critical holiday quarter.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the numbers:

  • Revenue: $53.3 billion, up 17 percent year-over-year compared to analyst expectations of $52.34 billion.
  • Earnings: $2.34 per share compared to analyst estimates of $2.18 per share.
  • iPhones: 41.3 million, up 1 percent year-over-year though revenue on the iPhone line was up 20 percent year-over-year. Analysts expected 41.79 million iPhones sold.
  • iPhone average selling price: $724
  • iPads: 11.55 million, up 1 percent year-over-year but ahead of analyst expectations of 10.3 million.
  • Macs: 3.7 million, down 13 percent year-over-year and behind analyst expectations.
  • Services: $9.6 billion, up 31 percent year-over-year.
  • Other products: $3.7 billion, up 37 percent year-over-year.

So in all, the shipment numbers were hit or miss at a granular level, but at the same time the iPhone is generating a lot more revenue than it did last year — implying that there might be a shifting mix toward more expensive iPhones. Apple’s strategy to figure out if it could unlock a more premium tier in consumer demand, then, may be panning out and helping once again drive the company’s growth. It’s then padding out the rest of that with growth in services and other products like it has in the past few quarters as Apple heads into the end of the year.

In the past year or so, Apple’s stock has continued to rise even though there may have been some dampened expectations for its latest super-premium iPhone, the iPhone X. Its shares are up more than 20 percent in the past year, and in the second quarter the company announced that it would return an additional $100 billion to investors in a new capital return program, which at the time also sparked a considerable jump in its stock. Apple hasn’t delivered a product that has entirely changed the market calculus like it did when it first started rolling out larger iPhones, but its strategy of incremental improvements and maneuvering in Wall Street continues to provide it some momentum as it heads toward $1 trillion.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

I, for one, welcome our robotic ukulele overlords

I, for one, welcome our robotic ukulele overlords
It is unclear where the UkuRobot came from and where it will go once it is done with humanity but I fear that it is up to no good. Look at this robot: small, compact, infinitely complex. Its fretting system stares at us, gimlet-eyed, while the plucking system continues its dark work on the strings. The system uses Lego, motors, and what looks like an Arduino to bring evil songs out of that mini-guitar of death, the ukulele. The world will never be the same and, honestly, do we deserve it to be?
The UkuRobot can play almost any song. In these videos it plays two songs, The Godfather theme and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. In the end the tune this monstrous creation plays does not matter. It will pluck out the end of days, winking stars from the sky as each note cascades out of its sound hole. In the end we will not fear the UkuRobot but we will obey it. In the end, all will be lost.
You can also watch it play the Requiem for a Dream theme song here. Pretty cool stuff.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Nintendo got it right again

Nintendo got it right again
I worked Circuit City when the PlayStation 2 launched. For weeks, we were sold out, and there was always a crowd around the blue demo unit in the gaming department. It’s easy to see why the PlayStation 2 was a hit looking back. It was powerful, inventive and excelled at local gaming. It was the right system for the time.
If Nintendo’s recent success proves anything, building for the time is more important than making for the future.
Nintendo is coming off a massive quarter that saw 88% year over year operating profit on the back of the Nintendo Switch. The company has sold nearly 20 million Switch systems since its launch, surpassing the total amount of Wii U systems sold and closing in on Gamecube’s tally of 21.7 million units.
The Switch is great. I can’t get over how good it is. Again, like other systems before it, the Switch is the right system for the time. It’s portable, it’s small, and it leans heavily on cloud services. It’s not the most powerful system on the market nor does it pack 4k gaming or VR capabilities. The Switch doesn’t even have YouTube or Netflix. It’s a game system.
The Switch was a big bet for Nintendo. The company was coming off of the nascent Wii U, which besides Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, was a game system without good games. It seemed Nintendo had lost its edge. The Wii U, in a way, was a trial for the Switch. It brought gaming off the TV and into the hands of gamers — but those gamers had to be in the same room as the Wii U base station. The Wii U didn’t go far enough in all sense of the phrase.
By the time the Switch came out, the looming threat of mobile games seemed to be over. A few years earlier, it appeared that the smartphone was going to take over and eat up the casual gaming market. Even Sony got in on the theme, releasing a hybrid smartphone and game system called the Xperia Play. While the smartphone game market is alive and thriving, it never gobbled up the home console market. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched and gamers settled into the couch. The Switch offers something different and timely.
To state the obvious, the Switch is mobile, and that’s what’s needed in today’s environment. It’s different from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and in the best way possible. Like previous Nintendo products, the graphics are below the market average, and the capabilities are less than competitors. But that doesn’t matter. The Switch’s gaming experience, to some, is superior. I take my Switch on long flights. I can’t do that with a PlayStation 4.
Gamers agree. With nearly 20 million units sold since it launched in 2017, the Switch is nearing the sales amount of the Xbox One, which launched in 2013 and has sold between 25 and 30 million units. The PlayStation 4 is the clear winner of this generation of game systems, though, with nearly 80 million units sold — and an argument could be made that Sony built the Playstation 4 for today’s gamers too, bypassing all the extras Microsoft included in the Xbox One and instead focusing solely on games.
Nintendo has done this in the past, too. Think back to the Wii. It launched in 2006 and went on to sell over 100 million units. In 2006 Sony and Microsoft were pushing heavily into HD gaming with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. And for a good reason, too. Consumers were heavily shopping for their first HDTV at the time, and Sony and Microsoft wanted to build a system for the future. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 went on to long, healthy lives but they never saw the runaway success of the Wii.
The Wii was the must-have Christmas gift for 2006 and 2007. It was novel more than beautiful. Compared to the graphics of the PS3, the Wii looked childish. But that was part of the appeal. First generation gamers were aging and having families, and the Wii was built for all ages. Anyone could pick up a Wiimote and swing it around to hit the tennis ball. To many outside the core gaming crowd, the Wii was magical. It was the right system at the right time.
The next part seems to be the hardest for Nintendo. Now that the Switch is a success, Nintendo needs to maintain it by building and supporting a robust ecosystem of games. And Nintendo cannot be the source of all the best games. Nintendo must court developers and publishers and keep them engaged in the advantages of the Switch gaming system. If it can do that, the Switch has a chance to be a generational product like the Wii before it.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Dixons Carphone says millions more customers affected by 2017 breach

Dixons Carphone says millions more customers affected by 2017 breach
A Dixons Carphone data breach that was disclosed earlier this summer was worse than initially reported. The company is now saying that personal data of 10 million customers could also have been accessed when its systems were hacked.
The European electronics and telecoms retailer believes its systems were accessed by unknown and unauthorized person/s in 2017, although it only disclosed the breach in June, after discovering it during a review of its security systems.
Last month it said 5.9M payment cards and 1.2M customer records had been accessed. But with its investigation into the breach “nearing completion”, it now says approximately 10M records containing personal data (but no financial information) may have been accessed last year — in addition to the 5.9M compromised payment cards it disclosed last month.
“While there is now evidence that some of this data may have left our systems, these records do not contain payment card or bank account details and there is no evidence that any fraud has resulted. We are continuing to keep the relevant authorities updated,” the company said in a statement.
In terms of what personal data the 10M records contained, a Dixons Carphone spokeswoman told us: “This continues to relate to personal data, and the types of data that may have been accessed are, for example, name, address or email address.”
The company says it’s taking the precaution of contacting all its customers — to apologize and advise them of “protective steps to minimize the risk of fraud”.
It adds it has no evidence that the unauthorized access is continuing, having taken steps to secure its systems when the breach was discovered last month, saying: “We continue to make improvements and investments at pace to our security environment through enhanced controls, monitoring and testing.”
Commenting in a statement, Dixons Carphone CEO, Alex Baldock, added: “Since our data security review uncovered last year’s breach, we’ve been working around the clock to put it right. That’s included closing off the unauthorised access, adding new security measures and launching an immediate investigation, which has allowed us to build a fuller understanding of the incident that we’re updating on today.
“Again, we’re disappointed in having fallen short here, and very sorry for any distress we’ve caused our customers. I want to assure them that we remain fully committed to making their personal data safe with us.”
Back in 2015, Carphone Warehouse, a mobile division of Dixons Carphone, also suffered a hack which affected around 3M people. And in January the company was fined £400k by the ICO as a consequence of that earlier breach.
Since then new European Union regulations (GDPR) have come into force which greatly raise the maximum penalties which regulators can impose for serious data breaches.
Last month, following Dixon’s disclosure of the latest breach, the UK’s data watchdog, the ICO, told us it was liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Financial Conduct Authority and other relevant agencies to ascertain the details and impact on customers.
Of the 5.9M payment cards which Dixons disclosed last month as having been compromised, it said the vast majority had been protected by chip and PIN technology. But around 105,000 lacked the security tech so Dixons said at the time could therefore have been compromised.
It’s the additional 1.2M records containing non-financial personal data — such as name, address or email address — that have been revised upwards now, to ~10M records, which constitutes almost half the Group’s customer base in the UK and Ireland.
The spokeswoman told us the Group has approximately 22M customers in the region.
https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ncsc-advice-dixons-carphone-plc-customers

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Newly legal 3D-printed gun blueprints targeted by state lawsuits

Newly legal 3D-printed gun blueprints targeted by state lawsuits
Hot on the heels of the effective legalization of 3D models used to print firearm components, 21 states have filed a joint lawsuit against the federal government, alleging not only that decision is dangerous but also that it’s illegal for a number of reasons. But the lawsuit may backfire via the so-called Streisand Effect, further entrenching the controversial technology.
Earlier this month brought the news that the U.S. government dropped its case against Cody Wilson and his companies dedicated to the proliferation of 3D models of firearm parts. There are still restrictions on how guns can be made and sold, but the files containing 3D data and allowing people to print components seem to have been determined not to fall under those rules.
This was unwelcome news for those in favor of stricter gun control laws, a group apparently including the attorneys general of 21 states. Bob Ferguson, AG for Washington, announced that his team would be leading a lawsuit intended to block the federal actions that legalized this particular form of data.

Court victory legalizes 3D-printable gun blueprints

“These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history. If the Trump Administration won’t keep us safe, we will,” he said in a press release issued today.
They allege that the administration needs the Defense Department to sign off on the decision, and that Congress needed to be notified 30 days in advance. The decision is also held (owing to a lack of on-record citations or consultations) to be “arbitrary and capricious,” and thus illegal under the Administrative Procedure Act.
The Tenth Amendment also gives states the right to regulate firearms, and the filers say that the federal action deprives them of this right and is therefore unconstitutional.
That’s all well in order, but the danger posed by these files is overestimated, as is the ability of the government, state or federal, to curtail their distribution. If this lawsuit is successful, it will have little or no effect on 3D printed guns at all.
“The status quo – which currently ensures public safety and national security by prohibiting publication of firearm design files on the Internet – should be maintained,” reads a letter sent from a number of AGs to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and AG Jeff Sessions.
At the risk of dipping into an extremely charged debate and sensitive political topic (I’ve added the “Opinion” tag just in case), the status quo does no such thing. It must be said that if effective gun control is the goal, there are far more important steps to pursue. Loopholes abound in existing regulations, for instance gun show purchases of unregistered firearms and “80 percent lowers,” which are a quite legal method for creating them.
Furthermore, any attempt to remove something from the internet is doomed to failure, as we have seen again and again, often enough that the phenomenon has its own nickname, the Streisand Effect. Workarounds for illegal content are numerous and effective, and presumably the type of person interested in printing their own gun will not be shy about using a VPN or torrent site. If anything, a concerted effort to remove something from the internet usually causes that thing to be permanently maintained online as a sort of middle finger to the authorities. It’s not in the internet’s DNA to forget.
While it’s true that outlawing the 3D models would give prosecutors and investigators more to work with, the nefarious actors of the world haven’t been waiting with bated breath on the outcome of the previous lawsuit. Criminals, terrorists, foreign adversaries and so on in the first place don’t even need these files to obtain or create unregistered guns in the first place, nor would their being illegal deter them in the least.
The lawsuit may, it is true, tie up and possibly bankrupt Wilson and his supporters, but that’s not much of a victory and certainly doesn’t make anyone safer. Unfortunately this particular demon isn’t going back in the box.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch