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Apple’s services business revenue grew 22% in Q3 as hardware saw only minor gains

Apple’s business may still be mostly about selling gadgets, but its surging services business continues to lead the company’s growth.

The world’s most valuable company reported revenues of $45.4 billion on Tuesday for the three months ending June 30, an increase from the $42.4 billion it reported for the same period a year ago. That topped the consensus analyst estimate of $44.49 billion in revenue.

But while iPhones, Macs, and (gasp!) iPads also saw small gains in units sold, revenues from the company’s Services category grew 22% in the quarter to $7.266 billion. Services includes revenue from the App Store, Apple Music, AppleCare, and Apple Pay, among others.

The company said it sold 41.026 million iPhones in the quarter, up 2 percent from last year when it sold 40.4 million iPhones. Those sales topped analyst estimates of 40 million.

Still, it was clear that Services has become the star.

“With revenue up 7 percent year-over-year, we’re happy to report our third consecutive quarter of accelerating growth and an all-time quarterly record for Services revenue,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement with the earnings release. “We hosted an incredibly successful Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and we’re very excited about the advances in iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS coming this fall.”

Apple still clearly has its challenges. Revenue dropped again in China 10 percent year over year, the sixth straight quarterly decline as the company struggled against homegrown smartphone makers.

And while the company sold 15 percent more iPads in the quarter, revenue increased just 2 percent, suggesting the company was succeeding by pushing more lower-cost models.

Still, that may not be a bad strategy if more iPads gets more people buying Services.

There was no immediate word in the earnings press release about the next iPhone. But the company offered guidance that seemed to put to rest some fears and rumors that the next iPhone might not go on sale in September.

Analyst consensus forecast for Apple’s fiscal year 2017 Q4, which ends September 30, was $49 billion in revenue. In the earnings release, Apple nudge that up slight to suggest a range of $49 billion to $52 billion.

Typically, the company holds a press event the second week of September, and the new iPhones go on sale later in the month. That means they tend to have only a small impact on Q4 earnings.

But the slight increase in projections by Apple was being greeted by investors as a clear sign that the iPhone 8 is on track to be released next month.

That’s critical because the anticipation is that the iPhone 8, or whatever the 10th anniversary smartphone is going to be called, will be a huge leap forward in terms of features and design and will generate a new round of record sales.

That’s why Apple’s stock price has continued to set records in recent months, even as its overall sales have remained relatively flat over the last two quarters.

Overall, investors were clearly thrilled with the performance in Q3 and the optimistic outlook. Apple’s stock closed on Tuesday up $1.32 to $150.05. But after the earnings release, it shot up 5.09 percent in after-hours trading to $157.69.

A conference call with executives is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. PST.

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Ms. A. C. Kennedy
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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick