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Apple suffers 1st quarterly sales decline in nearly 4 years

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Apple suffers 1st quarterly sales decline in nearly 4 years

Apple on Thursday posted its first quarterly revenue drop in nearly four years after pandemic-driven restrictions on its China factories curtailed sales of the latest iPhone during the holiday season.

The company’s sales of $117 billion for the October-December period represented a 5% decline from the same time in the previous year, a deeper downturn than analysts had projected.

It marks Apple’s first year-over-year decrease in quarterly revenue since the January-March period in 2019 when sales also slipped 5% amid slowing iPhone demand and the fallout of a trade war with China that was being waged by then-President Donald Trump.

Apple’s profit also eroded during the past quarter, even though the Cupertino, California, company remained a pillar of prosperity. Earnings totalled $30 billion, or $1.88 per share, a 13 decrease from the same time in the previous year. Those results also missed a target of $1.94 per share set by analysts polled by FactSet Research.

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Investors reacted to the letdown by initially driving down Apple’s stock by nearly 5% in Thursday’s extended trading. But management remarks made during a conference call with analysts raised hopes that Apple’s disappointing performance may have been a mere hiccup, paring the decrease in the company’s shares to less than 1%.

Apple’s rare stumble came against a backdrop of renewed investor optimism about tech’s outlook for this year, helping to spur a 17% increase in the sector’s bellwether Nasdaq composite index so far this year.

But now Wall Street seems likely to reassess things in light of Apple’s latest results and ongoing worries about a potential recession in the wake of rising interest rates aimed at tamping down inflation, said Investing.com analyst Jesse Cohen.

With Google also disclosing a year-over-year quarterly decline in its digital ad sales on Thursday alongside Apple’s disappointing performance, Cohen said it’s clear there are “several challenges the tech sector faces amid the current economic climate of slowing growth and elevated inflation.”

Despite the quarterly downturn in its fortunes. Apple hasn’t signalled any intention to resort to mass layoffs — a stark contrast to its peers in technology. Industry giants Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Meta Platforms have announced plans to jettison more than a combined 50,000 employees as they adjust to revenue slowdowns or downturns caused by people’s lessening dependence on the digital realm as the pandemic has eased.

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“We manage for the long term,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts during the conference call. “We invest in innovation and people.”

Cook had tried to brace investors for tougher sledging in late October when he warned of “increasingly difficult economic conditions” heading into the holiday season. Then, just a few days later, Apple cautioned that China’s attempts to clamp down on the spread of COVID were affecting its production lines and would prevent meeting all the demand for the premium iPhone 14 models during the holidays.

That contributed to an 8% decrease in iPhone sales from the previous year to $65.8 billion in the most recent quarter.

Cook indicated Apple’s supply headaches are now over, assuring analysts that “production is now back where we want it to be.”

In another positive sign, Apple also disclosed that it now has more than 2 billion iPhones, iPads, Macs and other devices in active use for the first time. That is likely to help Apple sell more digital subscriptions and ads, helping to fuel long-term revenue growth.

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp has unveiled a groundbreaking feature that revolutionizes text messaging by allowing users to customize their messages like never before.

Prior to this update, users were limited to basic text modifications such as bold and italic; however, the new feature introduces a plethora of formatting options, including numbers, bullets, block quotes, and text highlighting.

The process is simple and intuitive, requiring users to incorporate specific symbols to achieve their desired text format. For monospacing text, users can enclose their message with three backticks on both sides. Adding a quote is as easy as placing an angle bracket and a space before the text.

To strike through a message, users need to flank their text with tilde symbols, while bolding requires asterisks on both sides. One of the standout additions is the ability to create bulleted lists effortlessly. Users can precede each word or sentence with an asterisk or hyphen and a space to generate a neatly organized list.

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Moreover, numbering and spacing at the beginning of text with “1.” facilitates the creation of itemized lists, enhancing the overall clarity and structure of messages.

Inline code can now be seamlessly integrated into messages by enclosing the text with backtick symbols at the start and end. This provides users with a practical way to share code snippets or emphasize specific phrases within their conversations.

The accompanying image showcases the versatility of this new feature, illustrating the various formatting options available to users. WhatsApp users across iOS, Android, and web devices can now leverage this advanced text formatting feature to elevate their communication experience.

The update reflects WhatsApp’s commitment to continually enhance user experience and foster more expressive and organized conversations. Whether you’re conveying information, emphasizing key points, or sharing code snippets, the new formatting options provide a dynamic and engaging communication platform for users worldwide. 

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

 Facebook owner Meta will set up a team to tackle disinformation and the abuse of generative artificial intelligence in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June amid concerns about election interference and misleading AI-generated content.

The rapid growth of generative AI, which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has triggered fears that the new technology could be used to disrupt major elections, across the world this year. 

European Parliament elections will take place June 6-9. Its 720 lawmakers, together with EU governments, pass new EU policies and laws.

“As the election approaches, we’ll activate an Elections Operations Center to identify potential threats and put mitigations in place in real time,” Marco Pancini, Meta’s head of EU affairs, said in a blogpost.

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He said experts from the company’s intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, content policy and legal teams will focus on combating misinformation, tackling influence operations and counter the risks related to the abuse of generative AI.

Meta, which currently works with 26 independent fact-checking organisations across the European Union covering 22 languages, will add three new partners in Bulgaria, France, and Slovakia, Pancini said.

Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and 17 other tech companies earlier this month agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

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‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

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'X' faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

The popular microblogging site ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, has been inaccessible across Pakistan for over a week. 

Despite a brief interval when the site was accessible, users are now reporting a persistent outage, even when using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government agency responsible for overseeing telecommunications, hasn’t released any official statement regarding the suspension of the service.

This lack of transparency has only intensified the frustration among users who heavily rely on ‘X’ for information and news updates. Users who initially turned to VPNs as a workaround have also hit a roadblock, as the microblogging site remains inaccessible. 

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The situation has raised concerns about the government’s stance on digital freedom and freedom of speech. The outage has not gone unnoticed by the public, with many expressing their discontent on various platforms. 

Criticism has been directed towards the government and the IT minister for what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech and a hindrance to the revenue generated by the country’s thriving IT professionals.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court issued a directive to restore access to ‘X’ across Pakistan, recognising the site’s significance for information dissemination. However, despite court’s order, there has been no implementation, leaving users and advocates of digital freedom in a state of dismay.

The suspension of ‘X’ has broader implications, impacting not only the general public but also businesses and professionals who rely on the platform for communication, networking, and staying informed about the latest developments. The longer the outage persists, the more severe the consequences may be for the nation’s digital landscape.

As the public awaits an official statement from the PTA and the government, concerns about the potential ramifications of such a prolonged suspension continue to grow.

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