Tim Cook onstage at an Apple launch (Reuters)
Apple just announced that its biggest new slate of product launches in years is finally arriving soon.
This declaration came not from a black-clad stage or rising on a spotlit podium, but buried in a regulatory filing following Wednesday’s quarterly earnings.
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.
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.
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.
Dropbox chief Drew Houston is preparing for life as a public company executive.
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.”
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.
Apple blog 9to5Mac, which broke the story earlier on Wednesday, suggested that Mr Christie had fallen out with Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design.
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.