Facebook Q1 revenue soars 72%; Apple profits up, opts for share buyback; How biases drive school dropouts in India

1 Facebook Q1 earnings soar 72% (Dominic Rushe in The Guardian) Facebook revenue soared 72% in the first quarter of 2014 as the company continued to shift its customers – and advertisers – to its mobile platform. Comfortably beating analysts’ expectation the company said that it had revenue of $2.5bn in the first quarter. Revenue from advertising totalled $2.27bn, an 82% increase from the same quarter last year. Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 59% of ad revenue for the first quarter of 2014, up from approximately 30% in the first quarter of 2013.

Facebook said it had 1.28bn monthly active users at the end of March, up 15% year-on-year. The number of mobile monthly active users in March was 1.01bn, up 34% year-on-year. The social networking company reported the results in a quarter when it has made some of its biggest bets. In February, Facebook bought WhatsApp, a messaging service, for $19bn. Last month it spent $2bn on Oculus, developer of virtual reality software.

“Facebook’s business is strong and growing, and this quarter was a great start to 2014,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “We’ve made some long-term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We’re in great position to continue making progress towards our mission.”


2 Apple profits up, opts for share buyback (BBC) Technology giant Apple reported profits of $10.2bn after selling 43.7 million iPhones during the three-month period ending 29 March. Apple also announced plans to buy an additional $30bn of its stock back from shareholders and to increase its quarterly dividend by 8%. It also said it would split its stock for the first time in nine years. The moves are meant to appease investors as the firm reports slowing revenue growth.

Shares in the firm surged more than 7% in after-hours trading, as investors also welcomed news of the seven-for-one split, which is set to take effect in June. The strong iPhone sales surprised analysts, who had been expecting a sharper decline in post-holiday buying. Sales of Apple’s iPhone – which is the company’s most popular product, contributing to more than half of its revenue – decreased by 14% from last quarter, as users await new models. However, they were up 17% compared to the same period earlier.

Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple has acquired 24 companies in the last 18 months in order to expand its research and development into new features and products. Apple has faced stiff competition from rival Samsung, which sells cheaper smartphones that mostly run Google’s Android operating system. Total sales of Apple’s once-popular iPod music player continued to decline sharply, falling to just 2.8 million units during the second quarter – a 54% decrease from the previous three-month period.


3 How biases drive school dropouts in India (Aditi Malhotra & Nikita Lalwani in The Wall Street Journal) There’s a significant obstacle to improving social mobility in India: discrimination in schools. Roughly half of all Indian public-school students drop out before eighth grade, and most of the dropouts are from lower caste, Muslim or tribal communities, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. The report, which looked at four Indian states, places the blame, in part, on discrimination in the public education system.

Discrimination against tribal, Muslim and lower-caste communities in India is commonplace, but it can be particularly damaging in schools, activists say, because of the importance of education to finding better jobs and breaking away from traditional social and economic restraints. Students who drop out often end up working in the field, joining the roughly 13 million Indian children, most of whom are minorities, engaged in child labor.

Teachers often address poorer students using derogatory terms, according to the Human Rights Watch report, and order them to perform unpleasant chores, like cleaning toilets. “Teachers are products of a society that discriminates against marginalized communities, and they bring these attitudes into the classroom,” says Jayshree Bajoria, the report’s author.
The report examines access to education in India four years after the country implemented a large-scale education overhaul, the Right to Education Act, guaranteeing free schooling to children ages 6 to 14. Though nearly all students are now enrolled in school, activists say widespread prejudice, and lack of teacher accountability, has made it difficult to keep them there.



About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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