HUA HIN, Thailand - Apple brought a
brighter complexion to the faces of some stressed
Wall Street traders and investors this week by
announcing a 26% profit increase.
computer and iPhone-maker's US$1.14 billion profit
in the three months to September 27 beat analysts'
expectations and helped drive shares up by as much
as 13% in after-hours trading on Tuesday when the
statement was released. That went some way to
easing the pain of a share-price slide from above
$200 last Christmas to below $92 before the
earnings announcement. Apple chief executive Steve
Jobs told analysts: "We may get buffeted around by
the waves a little bit, but we'll be fine."
The earnings success has been put down to
strong sales of iPhones, iPod and Macintosh
computers. The company sold
almost 6.9 million 3G
iPhones in the quarter, and claims this exceeded
sales in the same period by rival Research In
Motion's (RIM) Blackberry. Apple shipped more than
2.6 million Macs, up 21% over the same period a
year ago, and in excess of 11 million iPods, up
about 8%. RIM's Blackberry notched up 6.1 million
sales for the same period.
Apple is now in
third spot behind Nokia and Samsung in terms of
revenue for mobile-phone vendors, followed closely
by LG and Motorola.
The next battleground
looks like it will be online stores, where mobile
users can download applications to add to their
phones. Apple's App Store is streaking ahead and
has already proven itself a success, notching up
200 million downloads and carrying over 5,500
Google have jumped on the
bandwagon with their Android Market going live
this week offering a limited selection of products
for Android-powered mobiles. The number of
products is expected to grow rapidly with the
increasing availability of Android handsets.
Also entering the fray are RIM with its
own application store called Storefront. Some
analysts feel that the Canada-based company could
be too late to the game as its online store will
not open for business until next March. By that
time, the App Store and Android Market will
already be in dominating positions. When RIM
launches Storefront, it will almost exclusively
target consumers as opposed to businesses.
Applications for AOL, Facebook, MySpace, Gmail,
Hotmail and Flickr will be included in the first
Industry With the big
earnings number boosting its confidence, Apple
continued to bait its opponents this week with two
new Mac versus PC ads. The "I'm a Mac" campaign
seems to be a direct attack on Microsoft, which
has left the name "Vista" out of its latest
campaign. That suggests that Microsoft is pouring
money into advertising instead of fixing its
problematic operating system.
million ad campaign for Vista, with supporting
appearances by Jerry Seinfeld, has certainly
attracted the attention of the media and of rivals
While the response may be seen as
clever, it highlights that the bickering
continues, with consumers often being left
wondering where to turn next. Maybe Microsoft
should consider adjusting its spending to fix the
current problems with Windows, while Apple should
try focusing on introducing its products to a
wider audience rather than resorting to high
school tactics to poke fun at opponents.
Security Microsoft, which this
week posted a 2% jump in profit for its most
recent quarter to $4.37 billion, on a 9% gain in
sales to $15.1 billion, has scrambled to release a
patch for Windows following the emergence of
attack code that exploits bugs in the
world-dominating operating system. The second
Tuesday of the month is usually slated for patch
releases but the software giant made an exception
this time due to the severity of the problem. Few
details have been released but we do know that it
affects all supported versions of Windows.
The vulnerability, which has already been
exploited in a number of targeted attacks, lies in
the Windows Server service, specifically the
"remote procedure call" component. This can be
very dangerous as it is used to remotely execute
processes on other computers - the infamous
Blaster worm of 2003 was an example of how bad
things can get with remote program execution
It is not often that security
patches are released out of cycle, so make sure
this one is downloaded via Windows automatic
update. Gaming Sony has delayed the
release of a keenly anticipated game this week due
to potentially offensive content in the game's
sound track. Little Big Planet, a
puzzle-solving, community-based game for Play
Station 3, will hit the shelves next week
following complaints that one of the songs in the
background contains two references from the Koran.
The song, Tapha Niang, was composed
by and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate. The
Arabic lines from the song have been deemed
offensive by Muslims who respect the Islamic
scripture as the direct word of God.
has taken immediate action to change the sound
track and has apologized for any offense caused.
Science India joined the Asian
space race this week with the launch of an
unmanned space craft, Chandrayaan-I (which means
"moon craft"). The unmanned probe will spend two
years orbiting the moon, creating a
high-resolution map of the surface and scanning
for minerals and water. India now joins the
exclusive club of nations that have sent missions
to the moon, including the United States, Russia,
Japan and China.
There were some protests
over the $80 million price tag of the launch,
given the economic and social problems facing the
country at ground level.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.