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Apple R&D spending spiked $425M last quarter, reaching record $1.6B


Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 08:05 am PT (11:05 am ET)

Apple continues to invest heavily in research in development, with a 36 percent year-over-year increase seen last quarter, helping the company reach $4.36 billion in total RD costs so far this fiscal year.

Apple spent $1.6 billion on RD in the just-concluded June quarter, the company’s 8-K for filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday reveals. That’s up $425 million from the $1.18 billion the company spent on researching new products in the same three-month span of 2013.

So far, Apple has spent $4.36 billion on RD over the first 9 months of Apple’s fiscal year 2014. That’s an increase of 32 percent over the same nine-month span of fiscal 2013.

The new data shows that Apple’s investment in RD has actually been accelerating, growing faster in the June quarter than in previous quarters.

AppleInsider was first to report in April that Apple had increased its RD spending by $303 million in the March 2014 quarter. Costs for that three-month period reached $1.42 million, or about $280 million less than the June quarter.

In April, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook cited escalating RD investments as a key reason why his company needs to have ample cash on hand. As of the conclusion of the June quarter, Apple held $164.5 billion in cash, with $133.7 billion of that offshore.

“We’ll continue to innovate by investing in research and development and capitalizing on our strengths in hardware, software and services,” Cook said in April.

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Review roundup: Fire Phone is good for Amazon, but doesn’t stack up to competitors


Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 08:44 am PT (11:44 am ET)

As e-commerce behemoth Amazon gears up for the release of its first-ever smartphone on Friday, technology journalists have begun to weigh in with their thoughts on the device — and the returns don’t look good for Jeff Bezos’s brainchild.

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times

Calling the Fire Phone a “solid device beneath a layer of whiz-bang frippery,” Manjoo chides Amazon spending too much time on fanciful features like the head-tracking Dynamic Perspective system, which he argues “rarely makes for a substantive improvement” in daily usage. He goes so far as to call one of Dynamic Perspective’s headline use cases — Auto Scroll, which scrolls the content of the display based on the angle at which the user holds the phone — “downright annoying,” saying that the “best thing about Auto Scroll is that you can turn it off.”

The highly-touted Firefly image and audio recognition functionality works well, he says, but currently serves little purpose other than directing users to Amazon’s storefront.

Manjoo also took aim at the hardware itself, saying that it “looks more like a minimalist prototype than a finished product.” He did laud Amazon’s choice to deliver 32 gigabytes of internal storage for the same price as competitors’ 16-gigabyte offerings, however.

Most of Manjoo’s praise was reserved for Amazon’s Fire OS, which also powers the Kindle Fire line of tablets. The app carousel and Mayday help features alone might make the Fire Phone a favorite of non-techies, he says, if they can get past the “gimmicks” and “3-D heroics.”

Walt Mossberg of Re/Code

The Fire Phone is “no more than an interesting first step” toward altering the iPhone-defined touch interaction paradigm, Mossberg writes. While echoing others’ sentiments — calling the handset’s standout features “less useful than I expected, and sometimes outright frustrating” — his main points of contention are the Fire Phone’s exclusivity to wireless provider ATT and a lack of features offered by competitors.

Amazon is likely to keep the Fire Phone as an ATT exclusive for a significant period of time, Mossberg says, which he believes will turn off the large portion of consumers who dislike the carrier no matter their opinion on the device. He also found ATT’s network data speed lacking, a potentially limiting factor for a handset that depends on the cloud for so much of its functionality.

In addition, widely-implemented features including Bluetooth Low Energy support and biometrics — similar to Apple’s celebrated Touch ID sensor — from other devices are nowhere to be found. Mossberg also misses the app selection of iOS and Android, specifically citing the lack of an official YouTube app for Fire OS as an example of that key difference.

In order “to top Apple and Samsung,” Mossberg concludes, “Amazon needs to do better.”

Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal

Amazon’s entry is “full of gimmicks” and “lacking basics,” Fowler wrote, comparing the device to “the grown-up equivalent of a 9-year-old riding a bike with his hands in the air.” While others focused mainly on the Fire Phone’s software, Fowler primarily took its hardware to task.

The Fire Phone’s camera, Fowler says, is subpar compared to the iPhone 5s. Low-light shots “lacked the detail and natural color I could pick up with the iPhone.”

Battery life was also disappointing, with Fowler reporting a drained unit after only “three-quarters of a day’s” use. The Fire Phone lasted 25% less time on battery than an iPhone in Fowler’s test and 16% less than a Samsung unit with a larger display.


Ed Baig of USA Today liked the Fire Phone in general, saying it has a “lovely screen,” and praised Amazon’s inclusion of unlimited cloud hosting for photos. The learning curve is steep, however, and he wished for additional carrier support.

Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica called Firefly “genuinely cool,” but agreed with most others that Dynamic Perspective is “neat technology with few practical uses.” The lack of compatibility with the iTunes or Google Play ecosystem is a killer, he feels.

David Pierce of The Verge enjoyed the Fire Phone’s camera and battery, but panned the “confusing, complex interface.”

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Flir One case turns Apple’s iPhone into a high-end thermal imaging camera


Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 12:02 pm PT (03:02 pm ET)

Thermal imaging company Flir has announced that pre-orders for its new One iPhone case — which will let outdoorsmen, HVAC contractors, and people who simply like to see how hot things are convert their iPhone 5 or 5s into a thermal camera — will begin Wednesday, with the device coming to Apple retail stores in August.

The Flir One will offer users the ability to view live infrared imagery when paired with a companion app, and the company imagines a variety of uses for the accessory, ranging from home improvement to security. Flir hopes the One’s relatively modest $349.99 price tag — a significant discount from the company’s other cameras, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars — will inspire even more creative applications.

“Based on technology that was formerly reserved for the military, Flir One is the first in a new generation of affordable thermal imaging devices designed to inspire imaginative and innovative uses by consumers,” Flir Chief Executive Andy Teich said in a release. “This represents a revolutionary step forward for both Flir Systems and thermal imaging.”

Homeowners could use the Flir One to find and fix air leaks to make their home more energy efficient without needing to hire outside contractors, for instance, or campers could use the camera to observe nocturnal creatures. The Flir app also allows for the creation of time-lapse and panoramic thermal images.

Flir will begin accepting pre-orders in the U.S. on July 23 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time at The camera will make its way to Europe as well as Apple retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada in August.

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Apple falls short of expectations with $7.7B in profit on sales of 35.2M iPhones, 13.3M iPads


Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 01:35 pm PT (04:35 pm ET)

Apple saw double-digit-percentage growth for the iPhone to reach 35.2 million units in its just-concluded June quarter, the company revealed Tuesday, but it still fell just shy of the market’s expectations, particularly with declining sales for its iPad lineup.

iPhone shipments in the June quarter were up 12.7 percent from the 31.2 million the company shipped in the same period a year ago, and helped the company achieve record revenue of $37.4 billion and $7.7 billion in profit. Driven by that iPhone growth, Apple saw its profits rise 12.3 percent from the June 2013 quarter, but total iPhone sales came in on the low side of what investors were generally hoping to see.

Mac sales were strong thanks to new lower-priced refreshes of the MacBook Air and iMac lineup. They were up 17.6 percent to 4.4 million units, an increase from 3.8 million last year.

But the big disappointment for Apple came in the form of iPad sales, which were down for the second consecutive quarter, hitting 13.28 million units in the three-month period. That was clearly lower than investors were hoping for, and represents a decline of 9.2 percent from the 14.6 million Apple shipped a year ago. For its part, the company signaled that its officials aren’t concerned.
Though it was a record June quarter, Apple’s financials came in below general Wall Street expectations. Regardless, investors are focused on the fall with new products expected.
Gross margins were improved, however, reaching 39.4 percent, up from the 36.9 percent the company saw a year ago and exceeding investor expectations. International sales accounted for 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”

Analysts on Wall Street were generally expecting sales of between 35 million and 36 million iPhones for the quarter, while iPad sales were expected to be between 14 million and 15 million. Street estimates had pegged revenue at $37.9 billion and gross margins at 38 percent — Apple missed the former, but topped the latter.

Apple did beat on earnings per share, reporting $1.28 which beat consensus of $1.23.

“We generated $10.3 billion in cash flow from operations and returned over $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the June quarter,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We have now taken action on over $74 billion of our $130 billion capital return program with six quarters remaining to its completion.”

Looking ahead to the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter, Apple also provided guidance that came in lower than Wall Street was hoping. The iPhone maker is projecting:

  • Revenue between $37 billion and $40 billion
  • Gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent
  • Operating expenses between $4.75 billion and $4.85 billion
  • Additional income of $250 million
  • A tax rate of 26.1 percent

The Apple Board of Directors has also declared a cash dividend of 47 cents per share of common stock. It will be payable on Aug. 14, 2014 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Aug. 11.

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Notes of interest from Apple’s Q3 2014 conference call


Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 02:05 pm PT (05:05 pm ET)

Apple on Tuesday fell just short of Wall Street expectations for its third fiscal quarter of 2014 amid disappointing results for the iPhone and iPad, though the Mac continued to outpace the PC market. Following the announcements, executives from the company participated in a conference call with analysts and the media, and notes of interest follow.

Participating in the call were Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, and recently-appointed Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri. Former CFO Peter Oppenheimer announced his retirement in March.


  • More than 20 million people watched the WWDC keynote in 2014
  • Earnings per share up 20% y/y, the highest growth rate in 7 quarters
  • iPhone sales up 55% year over year in Brazil, Russia, India, and China
  • Apple has completed 29 acquisitions since the end of FY 2013, 5 since the end of Q2 2014
  • $2 billion in commercial short paper obligations outstanding at the end of June
  • Tim Cook says Apple has sold more iPads than even they would have predicted at the beginning
  • Apple sells 2.5 iPads for every Mac in K12 education
  • Revenue growth in China up 26% year-over-year, stronger than Apple’s internal predictions
  • Less than 25% of iPhones sold on a traditional subsidy plan last quarter
  • Apple “has the capability” to acquire a sizable company and manage it, if “more like [Beats or IBM] presented themselves”

Apple’s iPhone business

35.2 million iPhone sales are the most ever sold in the June quarter

Apple believes new product rumors resulted in purchase delay

Tax and regulatory changes — scheduled VAT increases and government instruction not to incentivize network switchers — affected iPhone sales in Japan

iPhone in the enterprise: Medical device leader Metronic has developed more than 175 internal iOS apps deployed to more than 16,000 iPhones. Nestle has deployed more than 25,000 iPhones; NASA has more than 26,000

iPhone growing at 2x the overall mobile phone market in China

Apple believes iPhone trade-ins are “hugely beneficial” for the company’s ecosystem, especially as it enables price-sensitive consumers in the same or different countries

Trade-in customers may be more likely to purchase another Apple product, but “difficult to quantify with certainty”

Apple “incredibly bullish” that customers on quick-upgrade plans from U.S. carriers will upgrade to new generations quickly

Apple’s iPad business

Tim Cook says iPad sales met Apple expectations, but they “realize they didn’t meet yours.”

iPad sales were gated by reduced channel inventory, continue to be in the 4-6 week range

iPad in the enterprise: Qantas has deployed more than 15,000 iPads; Sweden has deployed more than 100,000

More than 13 million iPads sold for education globally

iPad’s penetration in business is only 20%; Cook believes there is “substantial” room for improvement, which was the driver behind the IBM agreement

“The market is very bifurcated on iPad. In the BRIC countries, the iPad did extremely well. In the developed countries, like the U.S., the market is clearly weaker there,” Cook said.

Apple’s iTunes and App Store businesses

iTunes billings grew 25% year over year to reach an all-time high

Developers have now earned more than $20 billion on the App Store, nearly half in the last 12 months

iTunes software and services “almost doubling” every quarter in China

Apple’s Mac business

Macs saw double-digit growth in K-12 education driven primarily by the MacBook Air

Mac sales up 39% in China year over year

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As iPad sales decline, Apple remains bullish on future of tablet market


Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 02:20 pm PT (05:20 pm ET)

Though iPad sales have fallen two quarters in a row, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday he isn’t concerned, and teased that his company is working on new innovations that, along with the newly announced IBM partnership, could help reinvigorate growth.

Speaking to analysts and members of the media on Tuesday, Cook said that while iPad sales met Apple’s internal expectations, he realized they were short of what many investors were hoping. Apple reported sales of 13.28 million iPads for the June quarter, a total that was off 9.2 percent year over year.

Cook said there were a number of reasons that iPad sales were down, including channel reduction and market softness in certain parts of the world, including the U.S. and Western Europe.

But the Apple CEO characterized himself as “very bullish about the future of the tablet market.” Unsurprisingly, he didn’t say where Apple might be looking to take the market, but he did tease that the company is planning innovations in hardware, software and services.

Cook also cited statistics that show Apple dominating the tablet market, and the fact that more than half of iPad buyers are purchasing their first tablet.

He also touted his company’s newly announced partnership with IBM, which will see Big Blue helping to deploy and support iOS devices in the workplace. Combined with Apple’s “legendary ease of use,” he sees great opportunities for iPad growth in the enterprise.

“What’s important to us is that customers are enjoying their iPads and using them heavily,” Cook said.

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