Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple's best year, making $234bn; UK growth slows to 0.5%; A visionary democratizing education

1 Apple’s best year, making $234bn (Rupert Neate in The Guardian) Apple has more than $205bn of cash in the bank, the company revealed as its chief executive Tim Cook said the firm had made more than $234bn in 2015, making it its “most successful year ever”.

The California company now has more money in the bank than the Czech Republic, Peru and New Zealand make in gross domestic product (GDP) a year, according to World Bank statistics. Apple’s cash balances increased by $2.8bn in the last three months alone.

Apple sold 48m iPhones worth $33.2bn in its latest quarter – an increase of 36% on the same period last year and more than the total sales achieved by both Microsoft and Facebook over the same period. Its quarterly profit came in at $11.1bn, 31% more than in the fourth quarter of 2014. Sales were up 22% in the three months to 28 September to $51.5bn.

“Today we’re reporting a very strong finish to a record-breaking year,” Cook said. “We are heading into the holidays with our strongest product lineup yet.” Apple, which is already the world’s most valuable company, worth $657bn, said predicted sales would increase further to between $75.5 and $77.5bn in its current quarter as only the first weekend of new iPhone 6S sales were captured in the previous three months.

2 UK growth slows to 0.5% (BBC) The UK economy's growth slowed in the third quarter of the year, weighed down by the performance of the construction and manufacturing sectors. Gross domestic product grew by 0.5% between July and September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, down from 0.7% in the second quarter.

The rate was also lower than the 0.6% growth predicted by many analysts. Part of the slowdown was due to the biggest fall in construction output in three years, a drop of 2.2%.

"The slowdown is being led by the manufacturing sector, which is seeing a renewed recession as output has now fallen for three consecutive quarters, suffering a 0.3% decline in the three months to September," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at research firm Markit.

"Manufacturing output has so far fallen 0.9% this year. Producers are struggling as weak demand in many overseas markets, notably China and other emerging nations, is being exacerbated by the appreciation of sterling."

3 A visionary democratizing education (Kim Lachance Shandrow in San Francisco Chronicle) Michael Karnjanaprakorn thinks anyone can be a teacher – doers, dreamers, thinkers, tinkerers. Anyone, yourself included. No college degree, formal training or accreditation required. All you need is knowledge and passion, and an eagerness to share both.

The 33-year-old entrepreneur and world champion poker player’s mission in life is to democratize education throughout the world, one online class at a time. “My goal is to transform education and make it accessible to every single person on this planet,” he says. “Education is a basic human right and we need to break down the $50,000 tuition barrier to it so that anyone, anywhere can learn whatever they set their mind to.”

To make the dream he set his mind to a reality, Karnjanaprakorn co-founded Skillshare, a “learning community for creators,” with his good friend and fellow tech startup veteran Malcolm Ong. (Ong has since moved on to other ventures.)

That was five years ago, back when Skillshare offered only two classes, the first being a poker-skills class taught by Karnjanaprakorn himself. Today, the burgeoning subscription-monetized startup, anchored in the heart of New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, offers some 1,700-plus peer-to-peer classes online. In all, the platform has served an estimated 1 million students.

Says Karnjanaprakorn: “Historically, the only option any serious student would have is to go to college and that’s what created thousands of universities all around the world. The student of the future wants more, to be able to take on hands-on learning experiences, like an apprenticeship at the top-rated restaurant in the world, or to take a bootcamp on coffee-making from the founder of Starbucks for three months. And they want nontraditional options like that to be socially acceptable. 

“Over the next five to 10 years, our mission will be even more centered around providing access. Ideally, we’d have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of classes across every imaginable topic, completely accessible to any student around the world on any device and in any language.”

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