Saturday, 30 April 2011

William and Kate's World Wide Wedding

The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton was an event for the internet age.

Great traditions of state were celebrated by the modern institutions of the web.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube were all given over to the royal wedding.

And, like the streets around Westminster Abbey, cyberspace was buzzing with talk of the big day.

Leading the online celebrations was the British monarchy's own royal wedding website.

Visitors were directed to the official Clarence House Twitter feed, the royal Flickr photo account, and the wedding "event" page on Facebook.
Royal tweets

Throughout the ceremony, @ClarenceHouse tweeted updates:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury begins the solemnization of the marriage #rw2011"

"The Fanfare plays! Congratulations to The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge! You can use our hashtag #rw2011 to send a message #royalwedding"
Clarence House official Twitter feed Clarence House gave regular updates on its official Twitter feed

"The view of the couple arriving at Buckingham Palace from where we are based #rw2011"

"The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge appear on the balcony #rw2011"

"Find out about the food being eaten at the lunchtime wedding reception #rw2011"
Trending topics

Talk of the wedding dominated Twitter, not just in the UK, but around the world.
Royal wedding tweets Twitter users shared their thoughts using a variety of hashtags, including #royalwedding and #rw11

The micro blogging site's top "trending topics" globally were all royal-themed.

* RoyalWedding
* #rw11
* casamentoreal (Spanish for Royal wedding)
* QILF (best not to ask!)
* William and Kate
* Sarah Burton (dress designer)
* Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco)
* Westminster Abbey
* Rutter (John Rutter - composer of "This is the day which the Lord hath made")
* Anglican

Royal channel

While blogs and social networking sites provided users with a way of sharing their thoughts on the royal wedding, the internet also allowed people to watch the ceremony.
Wedding on iPad with ABC News app ABC News was one of many broadcasters streaming the wedding to mobile devices

YouTube's live feed brought the BBC's pictures to a global online audience through the "Royal Channel".

It was the video sharing site's 23rd most-visited channel of the day, but trailed behind America's Next Top Model and Top Gear.

The BBC website, which also streamed the occasion, at one point experienced technical issues caused by "the sheer weight of traffic".

Many TV broadcasters also live streamed the wedding to mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet PCs.
Facebook figures

The world's largest social networking site, Facebook was quick to extract wedding statistics from its more than 500 million users.

Some of the more choice nuggets of information include:
David and Victoria Beckham with Facebook statistics David Beckham was mentioned in 9,000 Facebook status updates within 20 minutes of his arrival. Victoria Beckham managed just over 5,000

* 684,399 status updates mentioned the royal wedding over a four hour period - roughly 47 per second.
* 2,274 users checked-in at Westminster Abbey using Facebook's "Places" feature.
* A Facebook page dedicated to "Princess Beatrice's Ridiculous Royal Wedding Hat" gained over 4,000 fans.

Web traffic

Measuring the scale of a global media event is notoriously difficult.

The number of TV viewers has been estimated at around two billion. In reality, that is little more than an educated guess.
Akamai global web traffic map Global web traffic was 39% above normal during the wedding according to Akamai

Quantifying the popularity of a topic on particular sites, such as Facebook and Twitter is possible.

However, it is difficult to gauge the impact on the internet overall.

At the height of the wedding, global web traffic, as measured by Akamai, was 39% higher than normal.

Although there is no firm evidence that this was due to the wedding, the United Kingdom was listed as a hot spot, with the country accounting for 11% of online activity.
Republican option

Such was the mood of global celebration that not even the notorious "Great firewall of China" was set to filter out information about William and Kate's nuptials.

The story, along with a picture of the bride and groom, topped the news page of the country's most popular search engine, Baidu.
Guardian newspaper website The Guardian newspaper offered two versions of its website - one for royalists, the other for republicans

Brits seeking a wedding-free news source had to look closer to home.

Refuge was to be found on the website of the Guardian Newspaper.

Visitors to the publication's homepage were presented with the option of a "royalist" version, complete with blanket coverage, or a "republican" version, devoid of the merest mention of William, Kate or Tara Palmer Tomkinson's hat.

Friday, 29 April 2011

PlayStation Network credit card details were encrypted

Sony has revealed that credit card details held on its PlayStation Network were stored in securely encrypted files.

The news offers some hope to users worried about their personal data after the online system was hacked.

Sony had previously warned that card numbers and expiry dates may have been among the stolen data.

However, other information, including dates of birth and home addresses, did not have the same level of protection.

The full extent of the security breach was revealed on Monday, following a week-long investigation by Sony.

The company said that up to 77 million PlayStation Network members may have had their personal information taken during an "external intrusion".

The FBI confirmed that it was now involved and had been in contact with Sony in the United States.

One of the main concerns for users has been the issue of card security.

In a question and answer blog, posted on the PlayStation website, the company said: "The entire credit card table was encrypted and we have no evidence that credit card data was taken.

"The personal data table, which is a separate data set, was not encrypted, but was, of course, behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack."

The company has not revealed the type or strength of protection given to credit card information, and Graham Cluley from security firm Sophos warned that "encryption" could mean almost anything.

"Some are as weak as tissue paper, and others can take millions of years to crack," he said.

"For instance, you could have an encryption that made every 'A' a 'D', every 'B' an 'E' etc, but that would be trivial to crack."
Unusual transactions

Sony suggested that users should keep a close eye on their financial statements and alert their card issuer about any unusual transactions.

That advice was echoed by Visa Europe, the company behind the Visa payment system. It explained that if card data was found to have been stolen and used to make unauthorised payments, users would not have to pick up the bill.

"Cardholders who are innocent victims of fraud will get their money back, subject to the terms and conditions of their bank," it said in a statement.

PlayStation Network members were urged not to cancel their cards at this stage.

A spokesman for Barclaycard said that such action was unnecessary until it was known if card numbers had fallen into the wrong hands.

If that proved to be the case, Sony would need to hand over the information to the UK Payments Administration - the umbrella body that oversees financial transactions including bank transfers and card payments.

The card numbers would then be identified and passed to relevant banks who could block them from use or elevate the level of monitoring for unusual activity.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

PlayStation information theft reaches 77m gamers

Sony has warned users of its PlayStation Network that their personal information, including credit card details, may have been stolen.

The company said that the data might have fallen into the hands of an "unauthorised person" following a hacking attack on its online service.

Access to the network was suspended last Wednesday, but Sony has only now revealed details of what happened.

Users are being warned to look out for attempted telephone and e-mail scams.

In a statement posted on the official PlayStation blog, Nick Caplin, the company's head of communications for Europe, said: "We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network".

The blog posting lists the personal information that Sony believes has been taken.

* Name
* Address (city, state/province, zip or postal code)
* Country
* E-mail address
* Date of birth
* PlayStation Network/Qriocity passwords and login
* Handle/PSN online ID

Mr Caplin added: "It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained.

"For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information."

Read the full text of Sony's PlayStation hack apology here.
Credit cards

Sony admitted that credit card information, used to purchase games, films and music, may also have been stolen.

"While there is no evidence that credit card data was taken at this time, we cannot rule out the possibility," Mr Caplin said.

"If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, to be on the safe side we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may also have been obtained."

Sony has not given any indication of how many PlayStation Network users may have had their information taken, but the service has around 77 million members worldwide.

The UK's information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said that his organisation had already begun investigating the Sony hack.

He said that it looked like "a very significant breach of data protection law".

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000.

However, Mr Graham stressed that his ability to take action would ultimately depend on whether data from the PlayStation Network was stored in the UK - something he was still trying to establish.

"It if turns out that it is our responsibility here in the UK, we would ask 'were the security measures appropriate'," he added.
'PR Disaster'

The theft of so much detailed customer data would be seen as a "public relations disaster", according to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos.

"This is a big one," he said.

"The PlayStation Network is a real consumer product. It is in lots of homes all over the world.

"The impact of this could be much greater than your typical internet hack."

Mr Cluley warned that, even without credit card details, the information taken was enough to help criminals carry out further attacks on other services.

"Some people will use the same passwords on other sites. If I was a hacker right now, I would be taking those e-mail addresses and trying those passwords," he said.

PlayStation users got their first indication that something was wrong with the service when it became unavailable on Wednesday 20 April.

In the following days, Sony issued three brief statements asking users to be patient while it investigated an "external intrusion", or hack.

However, the fact that it took almost seven days for the company to reveal that data had been taken has angered some gamers.

Commenting on the Sony blog, Tacotaskforce wrote: "You waited a week to tell us our personal information was compromised? That should have been said last Thursday."

Another user Sid4peeps wrote: "This update is about 6 days late. I think it is time to move to the other network, no regard for customers here."

But some PlayStation users appeared to be happy with Sony's handling of the matter. Ejsponge61 commented: "Wow, this is alot of info. Thanks, this is very much appreciated by all of us PlayStation fans."

The Sony PlayStation Network remains unavailable to users. The company has not said when service will be restored.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Windows 7 distributes 350m licences - how does that equate to XP and Vista?

Microsoft's happy announcement about the Windows licences sold in the new OS's 18 months need some context. The results may surprise you

Microsoft has announced that it has sold 350m Windows 7 licences in its first 18 months on the market. This of course comes with the moniker of "fastest-selling ever PC OS" because of course the actual numbers sold are far more than previous ones:

Todd Bishop, over at Geekwire, had the bright idea of asking whether that was a little or a lot proportional to the number of PCs sold, since of course the question isn't really how many numbers are being sold in an absolute sense, but how they compare in context.

As he points out, Gartner's and IDC's numbers for that period suggest 523m and 517m PCs shipped (they use slightly different methodologies for counting shipments, hence the difference).

That means that compared to the number of PCs shipped it's easy to calculate:
Windows 7 licences are 67% of PC shipments in its first 18 months based on the average of the two.

Next, to Windows Vista: according to a regulatory filing, Vista had sold 180m licences (page 23) by the 18-month point.

Gartner says 416m, IDC says 398m shipments in that period; from the average,

Windows Vista licences were 44% of PC shipments in its first 18 months.

That's a long way down. But here's where Bishop runs aground: how does that compare to Windows XP? What are the PC numbers and what are the XP figures? He couldn't find them.

But we can, and we're glad to help.

There isn't an 18-month number, but Microsoft announced in July 2003 that there were 130m XP licences sold (of which 70%, incidentally, were XP Professional). It seems like a safe bet to say that it was tied to the end of the shipping quarter at the end of June, so that means that the period covered is Q4 2001 (XP launched in October 2001, though it was being included in some machines before that official launch period) and Q2 2003, the April-June period just before that announcement.

OK, and what are the PC shipment figures for Q401-Q203? Gartner: 244m; IDC 241.5m.

Taking the average, and calculating the ratio, we get that

Windows XP licences were 54% of PC shipments in its first 18 months.

So we can conclude that yes indeed, Windows 7 is indeed the fastest-selling PC OS ever. (In the absence of figures for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME, though the latter two are really unlikely to be in there.) Congratulations, Windows 7.

Just to show those numbers again: for the first 18 (21 months for XP), the ratios are: Windows 7 67%, Vista 44%, XP 54%.

But now here's the nub: why? Why is Windows 7 doing even better than XP, which at the time looked like a rocket?

I suspect there are three things going on here.

• XP's share in its first 18 months will have been held down because businesses buying PCs may well have been sticking with Windows 2000, the "business" OS, rather than getting XP Pro.

• initially I thought that Vista's share in its first 18 months - which covers the period to the middle of 2008 - was being hit by netbooks (which started off with Linux and then Windows XP). But netbooks didn't really start selling until 3Q 08, and even then only about 5m in a quarter where about 78m (average of Gartner and IDC) PCs were shipped. So netbooks aren't the answer to Vista's low number. It looks instead like it really was down to corporations choosing not to have Vista, and opting for XP licences instead.

• Windows 7 runs on netbooks as well as "standard" PCs, so that with the netbook market counting for some tens of millions of machines per quarter, it's getting the benefit of them all. And far fewer businesses are downgrading to XP or Vista.

Yet even with this said, XP remains one of the most-used operating systems out there, nearly 10 years after its introduction. It's really out of date, and though it has had some significant security upgrades, it really isn't a patch (ha) on Windows 7. If you're wondering whether to upgrade from XP, it has to be said that Windows 7 offers a much more secure environment - and that it can still run XP programs in an emulation mode.

Nintendo heralds Wii 2 console

Nintendo has announced it will launch a new version of its Wii console in 2012.

No technical details about the machine have been revealed, but gamers will get an early preview at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June.

The original Wii proved a runaway hit for Nintendo when it launched five years ago.

However, sales have been gradually declining in the face of tough competition from PlayStation, XBox 360 and mobile gaming platforms.

Wii was the first console of the current generation to offer motion controlled gameplay.

In the past year, Microsoft has introduced its Kinect system for XBox, while Sony launched PlayStation Move.

Nintendo's chief executive, Satoru Iwata suggested that his company was preparing a fresh innovation.

"It will offer a new way of playing games within the home," he said.

Some observers had speculated that the Wii 2 would simply update the existing machine, adding a handful of features such as high definition graphics.

However Johnny Minkley, an editor at, believes that Nintendo could be planning a broader redesign.

"The talk was about Wii HD, but I do not see Nintendo doing that. It will do something more innovative," he said.

Mr Minkley noted that Nintendo marketed the original Wii around its motion-sensing handset, rather than technical specifications - something he expects to see repeated.

"PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 were part of the graphics arms race.

"Nintendo would never launch a console based on the strength of hardware. Theirs has to have a gameplay point to it," he said.
Sales slump

The Wii took an early lead in the battle of the consoles soon after it launched in late 2006.

A combination of its relatively low price and its appeal to non-traditional gamers - including women and older players - helped the company sell 20m units in the first year.

In the financial year 2009/10, Nintendo shipped 20.1m Wii consoles. However, that fell to 15.1m in 2010/11.

Nintendo's profits for the same period slipped by 66% from 228bn yen (£1.6bn) to 77bn yen (£570m)

Market data suggested that Wii's share of new console sales have now slipped to second place behind Sony's PS3

In the first three months of 2011, PS3 held a 36% share, compared with 32% for the Wii and 31% for XBox 360.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Playstation Network suspended 'for day or two'

Millions of gamers are unable to play online as the Playstation Network remains unavailable.

Users are seeing error messages stating the network is "undergoing maintenance" or is "suspended".

In a blog post, makers Sony thanked users for their patience but warned the downtime - which has so far lasted more than 20 hours - could continue for "a day or two".

In recent weeks, Playstation has been targeted by hackers group Anonymous.

The network has more than 70 million users worldwide, but Sony were unable clarify how many players had been affected.

However, Twitter messages and blog posts have been posted from all over the world.

This outage is the latest in a series of problems for the network which has suffered extended periods of downtime over the past few weeks.

In response, angry gamers have flooded blogs, forums and Twitter with complaints.

"A full day and you guys still have no clue what is causing this," wrote user Slickshoes in response to the company's blog post.
Wikileaks-related attacks

Another user, Max Smith, shares his frustration that Sony is not keeping gamers better informed.

"To be honest I think that Sony need to give more updates towards the gamers via their Twitter account. There has been no update in the past 18 hours which is really making the community go crazy," he said.

Anonymous, the group which gained notoriety over Wikileaks-related attacks, has previously strongly criticised the Japan-based entertainment giant over its treatment of George Hotz, an American hacker who unlocked the games console's closed operating system.

Sony filed a lawsuit against the 21-year-old, arguing that his hack had allowed pirated games to be played on the machine.

The case was dropped earlier this month after Mr Hotz agreed to sign an injunction banning him from similar behaviour in future.

A spokesperson for Sony was unavailable for comment.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

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Non-iPhone owners more probable to possess iPad in Europe, says research

If you own an LG, Motorola, Samsung or Sony Ericsson contract smartphone then you're more likely than an iPhone owner to own an iPad, according to new European data provided by the research company comScore exclusively to the Guardian.

The surprising result emerges from a new comScore mobiLens study that also shows that across the five European countries studied - the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy - Apple has more than twice the share of mobile users contract subscribers - 12.4% - as Android, which has 5.7%.

Apple's iOS devices - its iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches - have a combined installed base of 28.9m users in the five main EU countries, compared to 13.4m Google Android phones and tablets in use, the data show.

Compared to general mobile ownership, smartphone owners are more likely to be male and aged between 18 and 34. Those aged over 45 are less likely to have smartphones.

Ownership of Apple's iPad tablet computer is highest in absolute terms among iPhone owners, but relative to their numbers in the smartphone market, iPad owners tend to be users of Motorola, LG and Samsung phones - which are Android marques - and Sony Ericsson phones, which use Android and Nokia's Symbian operating system.

The research, for mobile users subscribers aged over 13 - which therefore excludes pay-as-you-go phones - refutes the idea that it is only iPhone owners who buy iPads, says comScore. "This data clearly illustrates that the Apple ecosystem extends far beyond the iPhone, but it also shows that there is significant penetration of iPad users amongst owners of other handset manufacturer's devices," said Jeremy Copp, comScore's vice-president of mobile in Europe. "Blackberry users are the only segment of users to buck this trend and are significantly underrepresented among iPad owners - perhaps a signal of brand loyalty as they awaited the launch of the Blackberry Playbook."

The new data "has significant implications for the media and developer communities as they consider how best to reach their audience on all types of connected devices," said Copp.

Apple's financial results, announced last night, showed that it is benefiting strongly from the ecosystem of apps and products around the iPhone and iPad: it reported revenues of $1.63bn from "music-related products and services", which indicates its iTunes App Store and Music Store, which grew by 23% year-on-year, and 14% from the previous quarter. With digital music revenues flat at best, this suggests that sales of apps from the App Store are continuing to drive profits.

But other figures though indicate that Android is rapidly challenging Apple's position. Data from other organisations shows that its share of the mobile phone market has rocketed in the past year, and the number of new phones coming onto the market at a variety of prices - including the pay-as-you-go market - is attracting more and more users. There is little evidence though of strong tablet sales for Android devices so far.

In absolute terms, iPhone owners are the biggest owners of iPads, with Nokia owners being the second-biggest group. But when adjusted for their relative numbers - with Apple having 20.6% of smartphone users, compared to Nokia's 41.7% - it emerges that Nokia and RIM users are least likely, proportionally, to have an iPad.

"This data clearly illustrates that the Apple ecosystem extends far beyond the iPhone, but it also shows that there is significant penetration of iPad users amongst owners of other handset manufacturer's devices," said Copp.

The study contrasts with comScore data released earlier this week in the US looking at the same situation which found that Apple had 16.2% of mobile subscribers, compared to Android with 10.2%. The US study found that compared to their numbers, Samsung and LG owners were more likely than Apple owners to own an iPad, as were Nokia phone users, though in the US they make up a tiny proportion - 2.3% - of smartphone users. In Europe, Nokia smartphone users are 41.7% of subscribers, but they make up only 26.4% of iPad owners, making them only half as likely as iPhone owners to have one of the devices.

Nokia market share decreases but Microsoft deal confirmed

Mobile phone maker Nokia has posted better-than-expected profits for the first three months of 2011, down 1% to 344m euros (£304m).

But its market share fell 4% to 29% as cheaper rivals and the popularity of competitors' smartphones ate into Nokia's dominance.

Nokia also said that it had struck a long-awaited deal to develop smartphone technology with Microsoft.

Investors welcomed the news, sending Nokia shares up almost 3%.

Stephen Elop, chief executive, said: "In the first quarter, we shifted from defining our strategy to executing our strategy. On this front, I am pleased to report that we signed our definitive agreement with Microsoft and already our product design and engineering work is well underway."

The Finnish company's slow response to the smartphone threat from Apple's iPhone and the Blackberry handsets has been one of investors' key concerns.

On Wednesday Apple unveiled a 95% rise in first-quarter profits, and said it had sold a record 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter.

Consultants Strategy Analytics said that Apple had now overtaken Nokia as the world's largest handset seller in revenue terms.

Despite shifting more than 108.5 million handsets in the last quarter - almost six times that sold by Apple - Strategy says that the US's firms revenues from its more expensive phones far outstripped its Finnish rival's.
Continue reading the main story
image of Tim Weber Tim Weber Business editor, BBC News website

Nokia's new-ish chief executive Stephen Elop will be relieved that sales are holding up fairly well.

If customers don't stay loyal to the brand, if network operators start to focus on other handset makers, Nokia's decline could be swift and brutal.

So it is crucial for Nokia to retain a hefty market share until its technical turnaround kicks in. That won't be before the end of the year though, when the first Nokia phones sporting Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system will hit the market.

For mobile phones, that's a delay of half a lifetime, given the current breakneck speed of innovation.

The numbers also demonstrate Nokia's Achilles' heel: In terms of handsets sold, Nokia is still a giant. Last quarter it sold 583% more phones than Apple. But its margins are razor-thin, and it's little wonder that in terms of both revenue and profits Apple is now a larger phone maker.

Nokia will hope it made the right bet opting for Microsoft rather than Google's Android operating system for mobiles.

In a report published on Thursday, Strategy estimated that Apple's wholesale revenues for its iPhone division were $11.9bn (£7bn, 8bn euros) in the first quarter, against $9.4bn for Nokia.
'Under control'

Under the Microsoft deal, Nokia will start using the US company's software on its smartphones instead of its own Symbian platform.

Nokia said the deal will enable it to cut annual costs by around 1bn euros.

Nokia's group sales rose by 9% to 10.40bn euros, while smartphone sales were up 6% at 7bn euros.

The company's key phone unit reported an operating profit margin of 9.8% for the January-March period, well ahead of analysts forecast of 8.6%.

However, Nokia said that for the full year, margins would fall to within a 6%-9% range.

"Finalisation of the agreement with Microsoft means Nokia can now focus on execution, but margin guidance underlines that difficult times lie ahead as it transitions the portfolio," said analyst Geoff Blaber from CCS Insight.

Despite the drop in Nokia's market share - the first time in a decade it has fallen below 30% - Sami Sarkamies, analyst at Nordea, said: "The first quarter was very strong, much better than expected.

"It seems the situation is under control, there were no dramatic changes," he added.

Yahoo profits fall as company runs into technology delays

Yahoo has said that a partnership with Microsoft is facing delays as it awaits improvements in technology.

The internet company, which has also announced a 28% fall in profits, is using Microsoft's search technology in a bid to improve advertising revenue.

But Yahoo said the system was not yet paying off and that a further roll-out was on hold while changes were made.

Meanwhile, Yahoo made profits of $223m (£137m) for the first three months of 2011, down from $310m last year.

The quarterly earnings figure was ahead of analysts' forecasts and sent Yahoo's share price 3.5% higher in after-hours trading on Wall Street.
'On schedule'

The mixed progress report from Yahoo comes two years into chief executive Carol Bartz's attempts to revive growth at the company.

She told reporters that revenue would not rise to levels that Yahoo experienced before it struck the deal with Microsoft until the end of the year.

Her previous forecast was that revenues would pick up mid-2011.

Yahoo said it was continuing to make progress on efforts to expand into the fast-growing mobile internet market, and to increase the amount of video advertising on the site.

Net revenue, which excludes fees paid to partner websites, was $1.06bn in the first quarter, just higher than the $1.05bn average of analyst expectations but down 6% from the $1.13bn recorded a year earlier.

Ms Bartz said: "Our turnaround is proceeding on schedule, and we are very confident Yahoo is heading in the right direction."

Steve Weinstein, analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, said there were clear signs of improvements at Yahoo.

"The growth in their display business, when you peel everything back, continues to look good," he said.

Apple earnings virtually double as iPhone sales surge

Latest profits for the computer giant Apple beat hopes, including a higher-than-expected rise in iPhone sales.

Net income for the three months to March jumped 85% on the same period a year ago, with iPhone sales of 18.65m - a rise of 113%.

The figures are the latest in a string of good results from the US's technology companies.

Intel's figures, released on Wednesday, were also well above hopes and helped share prices to a three-year high.

Apple reported quarterly net profits of $5.99bn (£3.6bn), 95% up on the $3bn it made a year ago. Revenue was $24.67bn, a rise of 83%.

Sales of the company's computers were strongly higher, up by 28% from a year ago driven by its tweaked MacBook Pro.

Apple's figures were not uniformly positive. It sold 4.69m iPad tablet computers in the quarter, below expectations.

Another disappointment was sales of its one-time star, the iPod, down by 17% on the year at 9m units.

Most analysts were enthusiastic about the figures.

Channing Smith, portfolio manager at Capital Advisors growth fund, said: "Dynamite numbers across the board. The only hiccup is lower than expected iPad numbers."

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement: "With quarterly revenue growth of 83% and profit growth of 95% we're firing on all cylinders."

Mr Jobs, who went on medical leave in January with an undisclosed illness, continued: "We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year."

The day-to-day running of Apple is currently being done by chief operating officer Tim Cook.

Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5134 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

Toshiba Satellite C655D: Affordable Mobile Computing

A nicely affordable, easy-to-use PC for basic productivity at home or in the office, the Toshiba Satellite C655D (model C655D-S5134) gives families, students or small and home-based businesses the essential power and workspace to study, tackle budgets with a handy 10-key pad, keep up on Facebook and Twitter, or simply do more at their desk.
Black Trax Texture
Black Trax Texture.
Toshiba Satellite C655D
The affordable, easy-to-use, all-purpose Satellite C655
The bright 15.6-inch LCD (1366 x 768) offers a true 16:9 aspect ratio and 720p native high-definition resolution. It also features an eco-conscious design with a distinctive textured finish. Plus, you get plenty of ports and storage to give you the freedom to expand, or hold more files and media.
This Satellite comes pre-installed with the Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium operating system (64-bit version).

Key Features

  • 15.6-inch TruBrite display for excellent color depth and clarity (1366 x 768 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio)

    Toshiba Satellite C655D
    Stylish, eco-conscious design with a distinctive textured finish

    Toshiba Satellite C655D
    Great for families, students and small-office workers who want
    a full-size portable PC to tackle life's basics.
  • 1.5 GHz AMD E Series processor E-240 (512 KB L2 Cache) offering good power for computing basics.

    320 GB SATA hard drive (5400 RPM) 
  • 2 GB of installed DDR3 RAM (667 MHz; expandable to 4 GB)

  • AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics card provides exceptional features, performance and power-efficiencies that enrich what you see and do (384 MB - 947 MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory).

  • 8x SuperMulti DVD drive with double layer support

  • Wireless Connectivity
    • With its integrated Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking capabilities, this laptop provides up to five times the performance and twice the wireless range using 802.11n-compatible routers as you would with 802.11g networks. It's also backward compatible with 802.11b/g networks (commonly found at Wi-Fi hotspots and in older home routers.

    Toshiba ReelTime 
  • Included Toshiba Software:
    • Toshiba Media Controller offers simplified media sharing. Using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, it lets you share videos, music and pictures from the media library on your laptop with compatible devices in your home entertainment network, or with other compatible laptops and devices, like an Xbox 360 game console. And you can do it all without moving equipment, burning discs or fumbling with cables.
    • Toshiba Bulletin Board is an easy-to-use organizational and productivity app that lets you build your own personalized space on your desktop. With Toshiba Bulletin Board, you can quickly and easily manage your to-do lists and calendars, plus create your own custom work area by pinning your favorite photos, documents, links and more.
    • Toshiba ReelTime helps you cut down the time it takes to search for files. The easy-to-use app takes traditional text-based file structures one step further to help you find what you're looking for more quickly. Accessible from your taskbar, it shows you a visual timeline of your recently accessed files--using graphical thumbnails--so you can easily identify and get to your files faster. 

Acer Aspire 5742 15.6 inch Notebook ( Intel Core i3-370M, 3GB RAM, 250GB HDD, DVD, Webcam, Wireless, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) Black

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Intel Core i3-370M (2.4GHz; 3MB L3); 3 GB; 250 GB HDD; DVD-Super Multi DL drive; 15.6" HD Acer CineCrystal LED LCD; UMA; Acer Nplify 802.11b/g/n; 3 USB; 1.3 megapixel webcam; 6-cell Li-ion

The Aspire 5742 meets your daily computing needs with blazing processor performance and impressive graphics. HD media playback offers richer entertainment at home or on the road; while boundary-free wireless communication keeps you in touch with family and friends all the time. Whats more; Acers special 16:9 Home Touch Design provides simple usability for more relaxed computing.

Blazing performance
The 15.6" HD widescreen display provides ample space for multitasking and entertainment. A mighty Intel® Core"¢ processor combines with integrated Intel® HD Graphics and high-definition technologies to deliver great image quality and visual effects. Store all your files and multimedia on the large-capacity hard disk drive; and conveniently share them with others using the 2-in-1 card reader.

Far-reaching communication
The latest communication technologies keep you in constant contact regardless of space or time. Feel free to engage in live chats from all over the world using the Acer Crystal Eye webcam with 1.3 MP resolution and built-in microphone; while a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED"¢ network connection lets you get online from any hotspot. In addition; Bluetooth® makes file-sharing fast and easy.

Awesome multimedia enjoyment
The cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio presents sharp; colorful visuals on the Acer CineCrystal"¢ display. A built-in DVD-Super Multi drive is the ticket to your portable home cinema for viewing favorite videos and movies; plus an HDMI"¢ interface conveniently connects you to todays hottest high-definition entertainment on a bigger screen.