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Zuckerberg lashes out at Apple over anti-competitive practices – live updates

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has lashed out at Apple over its anti-competitive behaviour despite the fact that this own company is facing similar charges.

Mr Zuckerberg said that Apple was “increasingly” becoming one of its biggest competitors and pointed out that Apple’s iMessage came pre-loaded on iPhones. In the US, iMessage is considered to be the most widely-used messaging service ahead of WhatsApp.

During a conference call on Wednesday where he announced quarterly revenue of $28bn ($20.5bn), Mr Zuckerberg said that Apple had “every incentive” to use its dominant position to “interfere with how our apps work and other apps work, which they regularly do,” the Washington Post reported.

Elsewhere, Apple posted record revenues of its own as the iPhone 12 became the most-successful launch in history. The world’s biggest publicly traded company revealed a 21pc increase in revenues to $111bn. Also, Coventry will be the home of the world’s first fully-functional flying car air port.

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11:00AM

Britain’s digital watchdog opens investigation into Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy

Facebook’s $400m (£292.6m) deal to acquire Giphy will be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s digital watchdog.

The CMA has set a deadline for its initial decision on the matter for March 25. The authority will probe whether the deal hurts competition in the supply of video clips and animated images.

Facebook had previously argued that the CMA had placed disproportionate restrictions on the tech company. The social media giant’s integration of Giphy, an online database of short looping clips, was originally paused in June when the CMA said it wanted to explore if the deal gave the social network too much information on its rivals.

Facebook said it would “fully cooperate” with the CMA and insisted the merger was “procompetitive” and also int he interest of all UK Giphy and Facebook users.

10:36AM

How Redditors propelled GameStop to $26bn in war with Wall Street 

A cabal of Redditors have helped beleaguered retailer GameStop to a runaway valuation, racking up billions of dollars in losses for short sellers.  My colleagues Matt Field, James Titcomb, and Rozina Sabur report on how the meme-fuelled stock got to this point:  

Its dramatic rise has not been down to some improvement in market conditions, or piece of good news; quite the opposite. An army of smaller-pocketed investors working together in chatrooms are throwing money at the stock, in direct opposition to a group of wealthy investors who are counting on the stock price to plunge.  

The company has been dubbed the clearest example of a “meme stock”, whose price and popularity are the result of a group online campaign, rather than a cool headed analysis of its price.  Many are pitching it as a battle of regular people versus hedge funds and big Wall Street firms.

Read the full story here.

10:02AM

Huawei shipments slide off the back of US sanctions

While Apple has excelled through the Christmas period, its Chinese rival Huawei has seen shipments of its smartphones slide off the back of heavy US sanctions.

Shipments of its handsets, which include the Mate and P series, dropped 42.4pc to 32.3m in the last quarter of 2020, according to figures from research firm IDC.

The Trump Administration had blacklisted the Chinese tech giant on national security grounds over claims that Huawei have consistently denied. The sanctions have also prevented overseas companies from supplying it with key parts including semiconductors.

IDC now ranks Huawei as the fifth biggest smartphone brand, down from the number two spot just two quarters earlier.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Credit:
AP

9:31AM

Tesla shares dip despite posting first year-long run of profitability

Shares in electric carmaker Tesla have slipped 2.1pc in early trading today to $864.16 despite the company posting its first year-long run of profitability. Tesla stock soared throughout 2020 rising 730pc and racking up a bill of $38bn for short sellers in the process.

Tesla’s profitable period came despite chaotic factory closures, as my colleague Margi Murphy reports:

The electric carmaker made $721m in 2020, with $270m generated in the last three months of the year thanks to “substantial growth” in deliveries. 

It fell just shy of its ambitious target of shipping 500,000 cars in 2020, but  said it expected to see annual 50pc growth in deliveries each year and was on track to exceed that in 2021, Tesla announced on Wednesday.  

Read the full story here.

8:56AM

Discord bans WallStreetBets over hateful content

US messaging app Discord has banned the r/WallStreetBets server, which has been widely regarded as the main driver of the runaway valuation of beleaguered retailer GameStop.

The server’s ban was not related to the impact it has had on the stock, despite the growing concern among lawmakers in the US. Instead, WallStreetBets was banned for “hateful and discriminatory” content.

Discord said that it had issued multiple warnings to the server’s admin.

“To be clear, we did not ban this server due to financial fraud related to GameStop or other stocks,” the company said in a statement to The Verge.

“Discord welcomes a broad variety of personal finance discussions, from investment clubs and day traders to college students and professional financial advisors.”

On Reddit, the moderators made the entire r/WallStreetBets subreddit private for almost an hour. Once it was reinstated it published a message citing that Discord was its “first casualty”.

“You know as well as I do that if you gather 250k people in one spot someone is going to say something that makes you look bad,” the subreddit’s moderators said.

“That room was golden and the people that run it are awesome. We blocked all bad words with a bot, which should be enough, but apparently if someone can say a bad word with weird unicode icelandic characters and someone can screenshot it you don’t get to hang out with your friends anymore.”

You can read the full post below:

8:22AM

World’s first ‘airport for flying cars’ to be built in Coventry 

Coventry could soon become a central hub for one of the world’s most-exciting new industries. The first fully-operational airport for flying taxis is set to launch there later this year. My colleague Hannah Boland reports:

Urban Air Port has received government funding to build the hub for air taxis and autonomous delivery drones in the city, which passengers will be able to use in a similar way to airports for planes and which will also charge and maintain the electric vehicles. 

It said it chose Coventry for the first site given its location in the heart of the UK, meaning there is easy access to most parts of the country within four hours.

The airport will be able to support any electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, and will also be built so it is easy to move to alternative sites.

Read the full story here.

Urban Air Port's hub for air taxis

Urban Air Port’s hub for air taxis

Credit:
Urban Air Port

7:52AM

Apple “interferes with how our apps work”, Zuckerberg says

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used his earnings call on Wednesday to hit out at Apple over how it uses its “dominant position” to affect the way apps like WhatsApp work. 

Mr Zuckerberg specifically called out the fact the Apple’s iMessage comes with iPhones by default, giving them an advantage.

“Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do,” he said in comments first reported by the Washington Post.

“They say they are doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests.”

The Facebook chief went on to say that he “increasingly” saw Apple as one of the company’s biggest competitors.

His comments come as Facebook itself faces a number of lawsuits over allegedly anti-competitive behaviour.

The social media giant said it brought in revenues of $28bn ($20.5bn) in the last three months of 2020, up 33pc from the previous year – a bigger increase than any since spring 2018. 

Its user growth was steady, with all its apps including Instagram and WhatsApp now reaching an estimated 3.3bn people every month. Its profits rose by 53pc year on year to a healthy $11.2bn, suggesting that the company is returning to its pre-pandemic growth despite controversies over its role in the US election.

7:28AM

Five things to start your day

1) Apple revenues surpass $100bn after record iPhone 12 launch

Sales of MacBooks and iPad also rise in record quarter for world’s biggest company.

2) World’s first ‘airport for flying cars’ to be built in Coventry

It is expected to be the world’s fully operational airport for air taxis when it is unveiled later this year.

3) How Redditors propelled GameStop to $26bn in war with Wall Street

Short sellers have lost $5bn after Reddit traders collectively backed what has become known as a ‘meme stock’.

4) Tesla reports first annual profit after becoming world’s most valuable carmaker

Electric carmaker said the average price paid for a car dropped by 11pc in 2020.

5) Opinion: It’s upended democracy. Now populism is changing Wall Street

The GameStop frenzy has seen Reddit day traders paint themselves as David in a battle against Wall Street’s Goliath

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