Friday, 11 February 2011


1) ON JANUARY 18th Apple unveiled record quarterly results, with revenues rising to a whopping $27 billion and profits to $6 billion—up by 71% and 78% since the same quarter in its previous fiscal year. The bad news surfaced the day before. Steve Jobs, the firm’s iconic boss, is to quit, at least for a while, to focus on his health. Apple has been here before. In 2004 Mr Jobs took time out after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 2009 he took six months off and had a liver transplant. On both occasions, Mr Jobs recovered and Apple didn’t crumble. The firm is now America’s second-largest (after Exxon Mobil) by market capitalisation. However, Apple faces pressure to reveal more about its succession plan, and about Mr Jobs’s health. Charles Elson, a corporate-governance expert at the University of Delaware, argues that Mr Jobs’s role at Apple is so crucial that it lends weight to claims that more information should be made public about his health.

2) In September Stephen Elop, one of Microsoft's leading men, becomes boss of Nokia, a troubled Finnish handset-maker. Five months later, Mr Elop will make Windows Phone, Microsoft's operating system for smartphones, its "primary platform" for such devices. Yet this is only one of the radical decisions Nokia's new boss announced on February 11th, shortly after sending his staff an apocalyptic memo warning them that they were standing on a burning oil platform and risked being consumed by the flames. The firm will also get a new operational structure and leadership team, most of them will come from outside Finland. And from now on, Nokia will have just two distinct businesses: smartphones and mass-market mobiles.

3) Consumer spending in the US grew at its fastest pace in three years during 2010, official figures have shown.Spending grew by 3.5% from 2009 the Commerce Department said, the best showing since a 5.2% rise in 2007 - before the country went into recession.The 2010 levels were helped by a strong December, where spending grew by 0.7%, the sixth consecutive month of growth.Consumer spending makes up more than two-thirds of activity in the US, the world's largest economy.Rising incomes and the faster increase in spending meant that the savings rate dipped slightly in December, the data showed.

4) Newspaper publishers warn Apple over iTunes sales. Apple is being warned against trying to squeeze cash out of the newspaper industry by controlling subscriptions for iPads and iPhones.The European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA) says it is concerned by the company's plans to direct online sales through iTunes.If that happens, the ENPA warns, a large cut of their profits would go to Apple. However, the technology giant insists it wants to give customers choice.Several European Newspapers claim that Apple has banned them from offering free electronic editions to their print customers.
Publishers' main concern is that users will not be allowed to subscribe via newspapers' own websites.In a statement, the ENPA said: "consumers may only have access to the newspaper of their choice via the iTunes store, where the transaction would be subject to commission." Apple currently receives a 30% share of revenue from apps and eBooks sold this way.Publishers are also worried that if Apple takes control of sales, they could lose access to subscribers' personal information. Details such as age, sex and location are useful when selling advertising.Apple declined to comment on the ENPA's criticism. The company has previously denied that it plans to stop users from buying subscriptions through publishers' own websites.
However, it has introduced a rule that newspaper apps must include an option to purchase through iTunes. It’s been suggested that the company may be abusing its dominant position in the market.

5) Brazil's government has said it will implement 50bn reais ($30bn; £19bn) of spending cuts in order to curb inflation and help prevent the economy from overheating. Finance Minister Guido Mantega said all stimulus packages introduced since the beginning of the global financial crisis would be removed. Social spending and infrastructure projects will not be affected, he said. Last month, the central bank raised interest rates to cool inflation.It raised rates from 10.75% to 11.25%. Inflation was 5.91% last year and is forecast to remain above 5% in 2011. Brazil's economy, Latin America's largest, grew more than 7% in 2010 and is expected to grow between 4.5% and 5% this year.

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