Apple profits slide, first time in 15 years; Low oil price hits expat remittances; The epidemic of online shaming

1 Apple profits slide, first time in 15 years (Rupert Neate in The Guardian) Apple has reported its first decline in annual sales and profit in 15 years. The Silicon Valley company, which had bounced back from near bankruptcy in 1997 to become the world’s most valuable company today, told investors that it had sold $215.6bn worth of iPhones, Watches, Mac computers and other products in the year to 24 September.

That works out as an 8% decrease on Apple’s record $233.7bn of sales it collected in the previous year. The decline in sales hit the company’s profits, which fell 14% to $45.7bn.

It is the first time Apple’s annual sales or profits have declined since 2001, and some analysts are concerned that the world may have reached “peak Apple”, meaning nearly everyone who wants (and can afford) an iPhone or other products already has one.

The fall in sales was mostly down to declining sales of the iPhone, which is by far Apple’s most important product and accounts for two-thirds of all sales. Apple sold 45.5m iPhones in the quarter, a 5% drop on last year.

Despite the decline in sales and profits, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said: “Our strong September quarter results cap a very successful fiscal 2016 for Apple. We’re thrilled with the customer response to iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2.”

Apple forecast that it would sell $76-$78bn of products in the coming quarter, a 1% increase on last year. The company’s cashpile has grown to $237bn, up from $231.5bn three months ago.

2 Low oil price hits expat remittances (Issac John in Khaleej Times) As low oil prices continued to hit remittance flows from the GCC and Russia, India, the world’s largest remittance recipient in 2015, is to record a five per cent drop in remittance to $65.5 billion in 2016, the World Bank has said in a report.

However, despite the drop, India, which attracted about $69 billion in remittances in 2015, is likely to stay at the top as the world’s largest remittance recipient, closely followed by China at $65.2 billion, the bank said.

Overall, remittances to South Asia are expected to decline by 2.3 per cent in 2016, following a 1.6 per cent decline in 2015 due to weak economic growth in remittances-source countries and cyclic low oil prices, the World Bank said.

“Remittances from the GCC countries continued to decline due to lower oil prices and labour market ‘nationalisation’ policies in Saudi Arabia,” the bank said. In addition, structural factors have also played a role in dampening remittances growth. Anti-money laundering efforts have prompted banks to close down accounts of money transfer operators, diverting activity to informal channels, it added.

In 2016, remittance flows to low and middle-income countries, or LMICs, are projected to reach $442 billion, marking an increase of 0.8 per cent over 2015. “Against a backdrop of tepid global growth, remittance flows to LMICs seem to have entered a ‘new normal’ of slow growth,” the report said.

Other top remittance recipient countries include the Philippines at $29.1 billion, Mexico at $28.1 billion, Nigeria at $20 billion, Egypt at $18.4 billion, Bangladesh at $14.9 billion, Vietnam at $13.4 billion and Indonesia at $9.8 billion.

3 The epidemic of online shaming (Daniel Silas Adamson on BBC) A BBC investigation has found that thousands of young women in conservative societies across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia are being shamed or blackmailed with private and sometimes sexually explicit images.

Revenge porn is a problem in every country on Earth, but the potency of sexual images as weapons of intimidation stems from their capacity to inflict shame on women – and in some societies, shame is a much more serious matter.

“In the West, it’s a different culture,” says Inam al-Asha, a psychologist and women’s rights activist in Amman, Jordan. “A naked picture might only humiliate a girl. But in our society, a naked picture might lead to her death. And even if her life isn’t finished physically, it is finished socially and professionally. People stop associating with her and she ends up ostracised and isolated.”

In Saudi Arabia, the problem is so serious that the religious police have set up a special unit to pursue blackmailers and to help women who are being threatened. Further east, Pavan Duggal, a lawyer with India’s Supreme Court, talks of a “torrent” of cases involving digital images of women. “My guesstimate is going to be that we are seeing thousands of such cases [in India] on a daily basis,” he says.

And in Pakistan, Nighat Dad, head of an NGO dedicated to making the online world safer for women, says “two or three girls or women every day” – about 900 per year – contact her organisation because they are being threatened.

The more devastating the consequences of public exposure, the more power the perpetrator has over the victim. It is in India and Pakistan, however, that the use of mobile phones to record sexual assault appears to be most widespread.

In August 2016, the Times of India found that hundreds – perhaps thousands – of video clips of rape were being sold in shops across the northern state of Uttar Pradesh every day. One shopkeeper in Agra told the newspaper: “Porn is passé. These real-life crimes are the rage.”


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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