Monthly Archives: January 2015

Apple CFO Sees Sales Growth

Apple Inc. currently holds the world record in corporate sales. The company, which has taken aggressive steps to blunt the impact of currency volatility on revenue, noted that sales will continue increasing this quarter as the US dollar value surges.

Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri reported December quarter earnings of $18 billion, at $3.06 a share, an increase from $13.1 billion at $2.07 a share. This boost is despite the fact that many US companies are face with challenges from foreign exchange instability.

The strengthening dollar is reducing profits at companies like Procter & Gamble Co., Dupont Co., and Pfizer Inc. who all depend on a large portion of international sales. Apple, receiving more than half of its revenue from abroad, has actually benefited from hedging and raised prices in iPhones in Russia and mobile software applications from Europe and Canada.

Apple’s shares increased after it announced profit and revenue that exceeded fourth-quarter estimates, stimulated by a 46 percent boost in iPhone shipments to 74.5 million units. iPhone sales undoubtedly drove these results.

Nearly 69 percent of Apple’s revenue came from the smartphone. Typically this level is closer to 50 percent. iPhone sales constituted 56 percent of revenue in the previous year. The enormous bump in iPhone sales came from the latest products, its 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus. Consumers have purchased these phones in record numbers.

The increase in iPhone sales made up for the decline in iPad demand. Last year, iPad unit sales declined by 18 percent to 21.4 million. The iPad’s role in the tablet market fell as an increasing number of low cost tablets saturated the space. Additionally, tablet sales overall are down, as more consumers are choosing large-screened smartphone devices and deciding not to frequently upgrade their existing tablets.

Apple’s next hit product, the Apple Watch, is set to debut in April.

Anonymous Threatens Cyber War

The apparent militant Islamist Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris is believed to be the deadliest in France since 1961, when 28 people were killed in a train bombing by right-wingers. In this recent incident, 12 people, including eight journalists were murdered at the Paris office of the French satirical magazine.

Following the attack, the “hacktivist” group Anonymous released a video and a statement condemning the terrorists. In their message, Anonymous introduced itself as the “francophone Op Charlie Hebdo.” In French they wrote, “We can not fall to the ground. It is our duty to react.”

The group pledged to fight for the “inviolate and sacred right to express opinions in any way.” They stated that those who opposed freedom of expression will witness “a massive frontal assault from us, because the struggle for the defense of these freedoms is the foundation of our movement.”

Anonymous also released a video in which the spokesperson speaks in French with a digitally altered voice. Their message included as threats to close accounts on social networks linked to terrorists, and the bold statement, “We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.”

Anonymous is an unstructured group of hackers and internet geniuses that considers itself to be working for freedom of censorship and other radical social causes. They are not a single group but several groups and individuals who act under the singular name.

The group has publicly reacted and taken action in response to several conflicts worldwide, including in Israel, the USA and now Paris. When addressing the public, the Anonymous spokespeople typically wear Guy Fawkes masks, referencing the British Catholic by that name who helped orchestrate an unsuccessful plot to overthrow King James I, and was sentenced to death.

The Anonymous group uses the tagline: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” It is uncertain what effects their recent threats will have, but the group’s members certainly have the knowledge to carry out cyber attacks, and all potentially involved parties would be well-advised to pay attention.

Notes From CES 2015

With the commencement of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 1967, the tech and electronics world changed significantly. With each subsequent year, the show’s technological exhibits have seen dramatic improvements. CES used to include displays of enormous beige desktop PCs and gigantic floor speakers. Those days are clearly gone, with current smartphones a fraction of the size, and exponentially more efficient and versatile than those old PCs.

CES is where science fiction meets reality. This is the premier event for the world’s technophiles. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, its nearly two miles of floor space is packed with the coolest new gear that has yet to be released, giving visitors plenty of reason to be excited about the year to come. The summit features the latest gizmos and gadgets, from robots and drones, to digital home electronics and smart wearables.

A favorite standout at this year’s conference was the Naim Audio Mu-so, one of the best wireless speakers an audiophile will ever listen to. The Mu-so includes six speakers and 450 watts of amplification. It features every connection option possible and has an incredible dial that is hard to keep your hands off of.  It’s smooth, sleek and feels delightful and deserves an A+ all around.

This year we also saw powerful smartwatches like Withings Activité Pop. This watch looks traditional at first glance, but at $149 the vibrant timepiece has cutting edge high tech options cleverly hidden behind its face. Interestingly enough, there was no Apple Watch to be found at the conference. In fact, Apple never attends CES. Sony, however, introduced a chic stainless steel version of the SmartWatch 3.

Aside from smartwatches and other unique wearable gear like a smart-belt, other highlights included self-driving cars, smart ovens and innovative security cameras. Much of this exciting technology will become more widely available to consumers over the coming years.

Next Generation Television: 4K Ultra HD

2015 marks the year of the 4K Ultra HD Television. We’ve seen these TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in past years, but this year they will dominate the market. 4K Ultra High Definition is the next generation of resolution in televisions, offering a more detailed and realistic entertainment experience.

Prior to 4K Ultra HD, the highest-definition television on the market was Full HD 1080p, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 4K Ultra HD uses four times this number of pixels – 8.3 million to be exact – meaning that every pixel from four 1080p sets would be able to fit on just one 4K screen.

Additionally, 4K Ultra HD picture quality is enhanced by the “screen door” effect. This involves the reduction in gaps between the pixels, resulting in sharper detail and smoother lines so that even extreme close-up images appear clear and less pixilated.

Ultra HD displays have been around for some time, but they have been too expensive for the average consumer, and there has been a lack of content produced for this platform. This is no longer the case. At the 2015 CES, many companies, including Sony, LG, Sharp, and Samsung, took up significant floor space promoting their newest, and more affordable, ultra high definition sets.

Some manufacturers are offering new 4K sets that are comparable in price to non-4K sets. Sharp, for example, offers a set that will cost under $8000. Additionally, studios like Netflix and Amazon have begun to produce 4K shows and movies, giving consumers the incentive to purchase new Ultra HD displays.

In an effort to normalize 4K terminology, manufacturers like Sony, Dolby, Samsung and 20th Century Fox have formed the UHD Alliance. They aim to eliminate the confusion around ultra high definition, making Ultra HD sets more accessible for consumers and boosting sales quickly.

While some experts are calling this technology a game changer, one big question remains: Will 4K Ultra HD be the next big thing, or will it go the route of 3D television, which has virtually disappeared?