Apple profits up 90 per cent, credibility down slightly

Jobs’ pet project takes shine off bumper quarter.

Apple enjoyed its best non-holiday quarter ever, with sales up 49 per cent and profits up a whopping 90 per cent. But it's gone all coy on just how many iPads it has shifted so far, and its failure to address iPad buyers' concerns has dismayed some of the most loyal Apple fans.

The shiny white gadget and computer maker sold 33 per cent more Macs than a year ago, 131 per cent more iPhones but 1 per cent fewer iPods.

It didn't give official figures for the number of iPads it has sold, saying that they went on sale after its latest financial quarter had ended, but the lack of detail may just be telling. It was happy to brag about selling 450,000 in the first five days they went on sale, but that was before news of their flaky Wi-Fi connectivity hit the media. We shall have to wait for its next set of results to see if it's going to give iPad sales figures.

So far Apple has also been characteristically quiet about the scores of complaints about iPad Wi-Fi lodged on its own discussion boards and technology blogs. There were nearly 600 comments posted about the issue on one thread alone.

It did post a support article which dealt with some users who couldn't get any Wi-Fi signal whatsoever, but those complaining of a very weak Wi-Fi signal or signals being dropped have been told to simply move nearer their wireless router or move their wireless router nearer to them.

"We're thrilled to report our best non-holiday quarter ever, with revenues up 49 per cent and profits up 90 per cent," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We've launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year."

I always thought the 3G version of the iPad - which will give you true roaming capabilities - would be a far more compelling proposition than the Wi-Fi only model. Obviously now that the iconic company has managed a Wi-Fi tablet with iffy Wi-Fi, we must hope that its 3G version has decent 3G: otherwise you're going to be told to move nearer the mobile phone mast, or move the mast nearer to you.

Jason Stamper is technology correspondent for NS and editor of Computer Business Review.

Jason Stamper is editor of Computer Business Review

John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.