San Francisco, Apr 30 (AP/UNB) — Google parent Alphabet beat analyst earnings expectations but reported slowing revenue growth amid tougher competition in the online advertising market. Alphabet shares dropped more than 7% in after-hours trading.
Google's advertising revenue, its key moneymaker, grew by 15 percent to $30.7 billion — slower than investors had hoped. Google's digital-ad rivals include Facebook and Amazon, the latter of which has been steadily gaining ground.
The results sparked concerns that Google's enormously profitable advertising machine might be starting to sputter. Some analysts suggested it's a signal that Google might need to diversify its business more quickly.
"Does this put more pressure on Google to make more aggressive bets on cloud?" asked Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives.
Google executives highlighted the company's cloud-computing business as one of its fastest growing segments during a call with analysts Monday. But the cloud currently accounts for only a small slice of overall revenue. Google reported $5.4 billion in "other" revenue, which includes cloud, hardware and Play store purchases.
Alphabet reported a first-quarter profit of $8.3 billion, down 6% from $8.9 billion in the year-earlier period. Profit amounted to $11.90 per share, well above Wall Street estimates of $10.60.
That figure doesn't include an expected charge of $1.7 billion to account for a European Union antitrust fine. The fine was imposed in March for anti-competitive practices in Google's advertising business, referring to a specific exclusivity practice Google now says it has ended.
Including the fine, Alphabet's profit of $6.7 billion fell short of analyst estimates.
Excluding advertising commissions that Google pays to customers, Alphabet's overall revenue was $29.5 billion — also falling short of the $30 billion analysts were expecting.
Alphabet also reported widening losses in its "Other Bets" category — a broad segment that includes experimental ventures such as self-driving car business Waymo and internet-balloon subsidiary Loon. Losses grew to $868 million from $571 million a year ago.
Alphabet once again expanded its workforce, growing to 103,459 employees — adding nearly 4,700 workers in the last three months.
Beluga whale with Russian harness raises alarm in Norway
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A beluga whale found with a tight harness that appeared to be Russian made has raised the alarm of Norwegian officials and prompted speculation that the animal may have come from a Russian military facility.
Joergen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries says "Equipment St. Petersburg" is written on the harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera.
He said Monday fishermen in Arctic Norway last week reported the tame white cetacean with a tight harness swimming around. On Friday, fisherman Joar Hesten, aided by the Ree Wiig, jumped into the frigid water to remove the harness.
Ree Wiig said "people in Norway's military have shown great interest" in the harness.
Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, northern Norway, believes "it is most likely that Russian Navy in Murmansk" is involved. Russia has major military facilities in and around Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, in the far northwest of Russia.
It wasn't immediately clear what the mammal was being trained for, or whether it was supposed to be part of any Russian military activity in the region.
Rikardsen said he had checked with scholars in Russia and Norway and said they have not reported any program or experiments using beluga whales.
"This is a tame animal that is used to get food served so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen," he said. "The question is now whether it can survive by finding food by itself. We have seen cases where other whales that have been in Russian captivity doing fine."
Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the whale began to rub itself again his boat when he first spotted it.
Russia does not have a history of using whales for military purposes but the Soviet Union had a full-fledged training program for dolphins.
The Soviet Union used a base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula during the Cold War to train the mammals for military purposes such as searching for mines or other objects and planting explosives. The facility in Crimea was closed following the collapse of the Soviet Union, though unnamed reports shortly after the Russian annexation of Crimea indicated that it had reopened.
The Russian Defense Ministry published a public tender in 2016 to purchase five dolphins for a training program. The tender did not explain what tasks the dolphins were supposed to perform, but indicated they were supposed to have good teeth. It was taken offline shortly after publication.
San Francisco, Apr 30 (AP/UNB) — A startup that tried to advance the dream of intelligent robots in the home with its toy robot Cozmo is shutting down.
San Francisco-based Anki says it's laying off its employees on Wednesday after failing to raise enough money to keep the business going.
The company said last year it's sold more than 1.5 million products, including the car-racing game Overdrive and Cozmo, a playful robotic pet. Anki introduced its newest robot, Vector, last year.
It's one of several high-profile makers of consumer robots to fold in the past year. Boston-based Jibo shut down less than a year after its squat, talking speaker made the cover of Time Magazine. California-based Mayfield Robotics also last year canceled Kuri, a roving home robot.
News of Anki's closure was first reported by Recode.
Dhaka, Apr 29 (UNB)- The telecom regulator on Monday said that it will consider all legal options to realise about Tk 13,000 crore in overdue arrears from private mobile operator Grameenphone.
“We’ll block its NOC and calls, if necessary,” said Jahurul Haque, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). “It must pay the arrears.”
A BTRC-appointed audit firm said GP owes the regulator Tk 13,000 crore, including Tk 4,085.94 crore to the National Board of Revenue.
GP dubbed the audit "unfounded and without any legal basis".
“A daily late fee is being added to the overdue payment,” Jahurul told a views exchange meeting with Telecom Reporters Network’s Bangladesh (TRNB) at BTRC office in Dhaka.
He said the audit company had given enough time to GP but the mobile operator was delaying the payment by taking time from court.
“We’ll do everything legally possible to get the money,” he said, adding that all mobile operators will be audited gradually and that the BTRC treated everyone equally.
On April 2, BTRC asked GP to pay Tk 12579.95 crore. Of the amount, the regulator said the operator owed it Tk 8,494.01 crore and NBR Tk 4,085.94 crore.
GP was asked to make the payment within 10-15 days.
The claim originated from an Information and Systems Audit, conducted by the JVCA of Toha Khan Zaman & Co, on GP's operations from its inception in 1997 till December 2014.
TRNB president Muzib Masud, General Secretary Mazharul Anuwar Khan Shipu and BTRC commissioner, among others, were present at the programme.
Washington, Apr 29 (AP/UNB) — The universe is expanding faster than it used to, meaning it’s about a billion years younger than we thought, a new study by a Nobel Prize winner says. And that’s sending a shudder through the world of physics, making astronomers re-think some of their most basic concepts.
At issue is a number called the Hubble constant, a calculation for how fast the universe is expanding. Some scientists call it the most important number in cosmology, the study of the origin and development of the universe.
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Johns Hopkins University astronomer Adam Riess concluded in this week’s Astrophysical Journal that the figure is 9% higher than the previous calculation, which was based on studying leftovers from the Big Bang.
Los Angeles, April 29 (Xinhua/UNB) - Scientists at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have developed a new model to understand what Antarctica's ice sheet and the future sea level rise will look like centuries from now.
"Unlike most current models, we included solid Earth processes such as the elastic rebound of the bedrock under the ice, and the impact of changes in sea level very close to the ice sheet," said Eric Larour, a scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the first author of the study published on Thursday in Science.
"We also examined these models at a much higher resolution than is typically used. We zoomed in on areas of bedrock that were about one kilometer instead of the usual 20 kilometers," he added.
According to the study, scientists found that around the year 2250, some of these solid Earth processes will have started to offset the melting of the ice sheet and the consequent sea level rise. In other words, they actually slowed the melting down.
The team noted that a hundred years even further into the future -- by 2350 -- this slowdown means that the melting of the ice sheet is likely to contribute 29 percent less to global sea level rise than previous models indicated.
"One of the main things we learned was that as grounded ice retreats inland, the bedrock under it lifts up elastically," said Erik Ivins, a co-author of the study. "It's similar to how a sofa cushion decompresses when you remove your weight from it. This process slows down the retreat of the ice sheet and ultimately the amount of melting."
According to the team, the breakthrough of this study was to reach resolutions high enough to capture as many of these "speed bumps" as possible and determine their effects in Antarctica while also modeling sea level rise over the entire planet.
Antarctica's melting ice sheet is currently responsible for 20 to 25 percent of global sea level rise.