The digital business week

30 Jan 2012

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Apple achieves US$13bn profit on sales of US$46.3bn – new products coming

Stellar sales of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers propelled technology giant Apple to report a stunning Q1 result of sales of US$46.3bn, delivering a profit of US$13bn. The results were being eagerly watched as a test of CEO Tim Cook’s role at the helm since the passing of the visionary Steve Jobs.

Apple’s Q1 results compare with Q1 2011 revenues of US$26.7bn and a profit of US$6bn this time last year. They are also a massive leap ahead of Q4 2011 revenues of US$28.3bn, with profits more than doubling in Q1.

In what was an amazing performance, Apple sold 37.04m iPhones in the quarter, representing 128pc unit growth over the year-ago quarter.

The company sold 15.43m iPads during the quarter, up 111pc on last year.

During the quarter, Apple sold 5.2m Macs, up 21pc on last year.

However, the decline of the iPod continues, with sales down 21pc to 15.4m iPod devices sold.

Apple sold 15.4m iPods, a 21pc unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

Twitter co-founder backs Irish company

Biz Stone, co-founder of microblogging site Twitter, is investing in Irish software start-up Intercom to the amount of US$1m (€760,000), The Irish Times reports.

High-profile Irish and international technology investors are providing the funding, the newspaper reported Intercom chief executive Eoghan McCabe as saying at the 500 Startups demo day in San Francisco late last week.

Paul Adams, an Irish-born Facebook executive, is also taking part in the investment. He and Stone will join Intercom’s advisory board. Irish technology entrepreneurs Paddy Holohan and Eamonn Leonard are also participating in the investment.

The Facebook Economy supports 232,000 jobs in Europe

The growth of Facebook and mobile apps over recent years has supported 232,000 jobs and Facebook contributes €15.3bn of economic impact to the European Union’s gross domestic product, a new study by Deloitte reveals.

In the UK alone, Facebook has supported 32,000 jobs and contributed an estimated €2.6bn (stg£2.2bn) to the UK’s GDP.

The figures were revealed by Facebook’s chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg at the DLD conference in Munich.

The report claims there is already a so-called App Economy worth €561m (stg£467m) in the UK alone, as businesses have sprung up building apps and games for the Facebook platform.

This activity on its own has generated 7,500 jobs so far in the UK.

Heins is new CEO at RIM as Balsillie and Lazaridis step down

The two co-CEOs who presided over BlackBerry maker Research in Motion’s (RIM) meteoric rise and spearheading of the smartphone a decade ago and of course its slow, steady demise in the face of competition from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS – Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis – have stepped down from the helm.

A new CEO, Thorsten Heins, will now take the top job at RIM, where he can either guide the former smartphone king back to a leadership position or navigate it through the choppy waters of mergers and acquisitions, where potential buyers circling RIM include Amazon and Samsung.

Heins was previously one of two chief operating officers at RIM and joined the company five years ago after holding the role of chief technology officer at Siemens.

The appointment of Heins signals fresh leadership and the opportunity for a strategic overhaul at the company – just what employees and investors had been calling for.

Lazaridis and Balsillie will remain with RIM as directors and significant shareholders.

Megaupload founder denied bail in New Zealand

Kim Dotcom, otherwise known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of the file-sharing site Megaupload, that the FBI swooped in on recently, has been refused bail in New Zealand as he has been deemed a “flight” risk.

The FBI charged Schmitz and six other people for running an “international organised criminal enterprise”, the Hong Kong-based file hosting and sharing site Megaupload and other related sites.

It was one in one of the largest-ever criminal copyright cases ever brought by US authorities.

However, the lawyer acting on behalf of Schmitz said he will appeal the decision to deny him bail.

Schmitz founded Megaupload in 2005.

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