Apple just announced that its biggest new slate of product launches in years is finally arriving soon.
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Apple returned to its old forecast-busting ways on Wednesday, reporting better-than-expected revenue and iPhone growth. Even though iPad sales underwhelmed, Wall Street cheered the second-quarter results with an 8 per cent spike in after-hours trading. Apple also added $30bn in new dividends and share buybacks to its existing $100bn capital return programme, alongside a seven-for-one stock split.
Tim Bradshaw and Sarah Mishkin bring live commentary from Apple’s conference call and reactions from the market.
A cheeky Apple advertisement appeared in several newspapers on Tuesday. Above a vast array of solar panels, it read: “There are some ideas we want every company to copy.”
The ad ran not only during Apple’s latest bout of patent litigation against Samsung, which continues in a San Jose courtroom, but on Earth Day, an annual reminder of our environmental responsibilities.
Apple used Earth Day to launch a new video ad, ‘Better’, narrated by chief executive Tim Cook himself, and a new portion of its website dedicated to its green achievements. These include powering its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as 120 of its retail stores.
But perhaps more remarkable is that Mr Cook let Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, give an open and sometimes unscripted talk at Stanford University on Tuesday night. Read more
Lytro caused a lot of excitement among photography enthusiasts when it launched in 2011. Billed as the third evolution of the camera after film and digital, Lytro’s unique “light-field” sensor allowed snappers to “shoot first, focus later”, as well as other “computational photography” tricks such as shifting perspective or add 3D elements to an image after the photo is taken.
However, the Silicon Valley start-up’s first camera was aimed not at hardcore photographers, but at a mass market. The $500, flashlight-shaped device was described by the FT’s Chris Nuttall as “an amusement for now”, due to issues such as a small screen/viewfinder and counter-intuitive controls, even if he predicted the underlying technology was “likely to change photography radically in the long run”.
Three years and one CEO change later, Lytro is back with a new device, the Illum. It is aimed more directly at those snap-happy early adopters, professionals and “aspiring amateurs” who were most enthusiastic about its technology in the first place but perhaps found version one fell short of their hopes. Read more
While Silicon Valley races ahead into a future filled with drones, robots and wearable technology, the rest of the US watches on with a mixture of hope and anxiety.
Americans are optimistic about the long-term prospects for the next 50 years of technological and scientific advances, according to a survey of 1,001 people by the Pew Research Center in February, but more nervous about the immediate future. Read more
In an interview with the FT after Wednesday’s launch of Carousel, a new photo-sharing app, and a suite of other new products, Mr Houston didn’t even wait for the inevitable question about an initial public offering to address the topic.
“We will continue to surround the company with great advisors, board members and other folks who have public company experience,” he said. “I’m not worried about the tactical side of operating as a public company.” Read more
Greg Christie, the Apple designer who was a key part of the team behind the original iPhone, will leave the company later this year, a spokesman confirmed to the FT.
Uber, the ambitious start-up best known for delivering people, now wants to deliver anything that can fit in a rucksack. The private driver and taxi-hailing app will on Tuesday add cycle couriers to its New York fleet with what it calls Uber Rush. Read more
GVS, he gleefully explains, is “basically taking high-voltage electrodes and passing current through your head for entertainment”.
Want to hear a Silicon Valley joke? Two geek billionaires walk into a coffee shop and nobody notices.
There’s no punchline. This actually happened a couple of weeks ago when I was in Mountain View and the co-founders of WhatsApp popped into their local for a brew. Despite being full of start-ups, nobody in the Red Rock Café seemed to recognise the pair who had just sold their app to Facebook for upwards of $16bn.
WhatsApp has almost 500m active users around the world but many in Silicon Valley’s elite only discovered the chat app when Mark Zuckerberg opened his chequebook. It’s entirely possible that, in the past year, more people here have tried Google Glass, the sci-fi headset that most outside Silicon Valley love to hate, than sent a message on WhatsApp. Read more
Google has been working hard lately to dampen the constant, rumbling criticism of Glass. First, it issued guidelines on etiquette for its pioneering wearable gadget, warning early adopters: “Don’t be a glasshole.”
Then last week, it decided that the people buying its $1,500 headset weren’t glassholes after all, trying to dispel ten “myths” about the prototype product: Glass really isn’t a “distraction from the real world” or “the perfect surveillance device”, it insisted in a blogpost.
The ground suitably prepared, Google has now made a much more meaningful step towards mainstream acceptance: it is partnering with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to make Glass fashionable. Read more
It would be easy to glance at Samsung’s new Milk Music service and dismiss it as another copycat. The personalised internet radio service for Galaxy smartphone owners that launches in the US on Friday is, in essence, pretty similar to Pandora or Apple’s iTunes Radio, which launched last year.
But while maintaining feature parity is an important if unglamorous part of the hypercompetitive smartphone market, Milk does bring something new to Samsung Galaxy: great software design. Read more
In a mobile world where single-serving apps are replacing vast monolithic services, Jawbone on Thursday poured out a shot of Coffee: its new caffeine-consumption tracking app.
The move to a standalone app that does not require its Up wristband to work is a first for Jawbone, which is raising $250m in new funding. It comes as part of a big push by Jawbone to up its game in software and services, as step-counting gadgets fast become a commodity. Read more
It was just a regular Tuesday afternoon in Mountain View’s Red Rock coffee shop: rows of young entrepreneurs sitting behind their MacBook screens, working on what they hope might be the next WhatsApp.
The low-key cafe served as an office for Brian Acton and Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s founders, when they were starting out back in 2009. It was here that Sequoia’s Jim Goetz met them in 2011 before becoming their only venture-capital investor. WhatsApp’s modest, unmarked offices are still just around the corner. Read more
Facebook is paying up to $19bn in cash, stock and earnouts to acquire WhatsApp Messenger, the world’s most popular mobile chat app with more than 450m regular users. Here Tim Bradshaw and Hannah Kuchler brought live reaction and comment from Facebook’s conference call.
Google is expanding the number of people who can get hold of Glass, as the FT reported late last year. Now a few friends of each of its first “Explorers” and selected other developers can purchase the experimental wearable device.
With all those new lenses wandering around, it hasn’t escaped Google’s notice that its wearers are getting “a lot of attention”. Google has talked to its existing community of Explorers for some tips on how to deal with the rest of the world, finally acknowledging that it can look “pretty weird”. Read more
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