Redmond, Oct 24 (AP/UNB) — Microsoft on Wednesday reported its latest solid quarterly report card to Wall Street, buoyed by another round of business customers signing up for its cloud computing services.
The company reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $10.7 billion, up 21% from the same period last year.
The net income of $1.38 per share beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.25 per share.
The software maker posted revenue of $33.1 billion in the July-September period, up 14% from last year and also beating forecasts. Ten analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $32.2 billion.
Microsoft shares have risen 35% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen 20%. In the final minutes of trading on Wednesday, shares hit $137.11, an increase of 27% in the last 12 months. It's been dueling with Apple this season as the most valuable company in the S&P 500.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been rewarded for his efforts in steadily lifting the company's earnings since taking over in 2014. His compensation was $42.9 million in the fiscal year that ended in June, a 66% raise over the previous year, according to a statement filed last week ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting in December.
That included a $1 million base salary increase, which the board said it awarded because of "his significant contributions to Microsoft's success during his tenure as CEO" and a desire to encourage his "continued strong leadership."
The strongest sales growth has come from adding new corporate and government clients to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform. Azure's quarterly revenue grew 59 percent from the same time last year, much of that powered by contracts worth at least $10 million each, the company said.
A less profitable part of Microsoft's business has been its consumer products, such as Xbox, which saw no revenue growth in the quarter, and Surface laptops, which declined 4%. The Surface team, though a small part of Microsoft's business, launched a new line of devices this fall and expects demand to pick up during the holiday season.
Washington, Oct 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- "I miss an important space agency in this panel. Where is China?" Attendees at a plenary of the ongoing weeklong International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington brought the question atop the panel voting system and demanded an answer.
The crowd-sourced question popped up after the audience found that Wu Yanhua, vice administrator of China National Space Administration (CNSA) scheduled to speak at the IAC kickoff event on Monday with officials from five other national space agencies, was conspicuously absent.
Pascale Ehrenfreund, the incoming president of International Astronautical Federation (IAF), which is IAC's organizer, attributed Wu's no-show to "time conflict," but some attendees at the meeting hinted at "visa problem."
The difficulty for Chinese scientists in obtaining a U.S. visa has been an issue of concern for a while. At a press conference on Sunday, the IAC organizing committee co-chair Vincent Boles said they started working with the U.S. State Department 18 months ago to ensure timely grant of visas for attendees. But such efforts seemed to be of little avail.
QHYCCD, a telescope maker, is among a small number of Chinese companies that made it to this year's IAC exhibit hall. Bi Tingting, the startup's sales manager, told Xinhua all technicians with her company had failed to get a U.S. visa.
"Also, all applicants from another Chinese space company called Spacety were refused," said Bi. Though still listed on IAC's official guidebook, Spacety's booth is now empty.
China hosted the IAC in 2013 and has always been an active participant in the conference which championed international collaboration in space exploration. At IAC 2018 in Bremen, Germany, China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation and China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, two rocket-making giants, made quite an impact when they showcased their latest technologies, but they didn't appear at the ongoing Washington conference either.
The United States has for some time been denying visas to, delaying processing visa applications of, revoking long-term visas for, and searching and harassing Chinese scholars, students, entrepreneurs and scientists, Geng Shuang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told media on Oct. 9.
Observers say that the U.S. authority has increasingly attempted to block or disrupt normal people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States. At the opening ceremony, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence claimed that his country would only "work closely with like-minded, freedom-loving nations, as we lead mankind into the final frontier."
"Why not work with China on the 'international' Gateway (a U.S. moon-orbiting lab to be built) like we have with Russia for decades?" "If international collaboration is dependent on being 'freedom-loving,' who should decide on what level of 'freedom-loving' is sufficient?" Those two questions from the audience were also spotlighted in the voting system on Monday.
Pence's apparent attempt to politicize science collaboration is not welcome even in the United States. About 200 people from the country's astronautical community signed a letter condemning the inclusion of Pence at the opening ceremony. They considered his attendance at odds with the IAC's mission of global collaboration.
Jan Woerner, director general of European Space Agency (ESA), also disagreed with Pence. He told Xinhua that no one should forsake collaboration altogether just on account of potential problems or risks.
"I'm not stopping cooperation with others because they don't think like me. On the contrary, because they don't think like me, so I'm going into cooperation," said Woerner.
His view was echoed by Buzz Aldrin, one of the first two humans to land on the Moon and who received IAF World Space Award in 2019. Aldrin said at a pre-conference seminar on Sunday that he is not a fan of "Gateway," but this program should include China as part of the international collaboration.
Wuzhen, Oct 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- In 1994, Hu Qiheng, then vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, visited the U.S. for talks that led to the setting up of the first direct TCP/IP connection in China.
A quarter of a century after China was connected to the Internet, the country has developed from a follower of revolutionary technology to a forerunner in tapping its full potential and an advocate for building a community with a shared future in cyberspace.
Such a transformation is in full display at the sixth World Internet Conference (WIC) held in the river town of Wuzhen in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, where global thinkers of the Internet joined with Chinese tech gurus in seeking to create a better cyberspace that benefits all mankind.
"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Internet," said Wu Hequan, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering. "As the Internet sector continues to boom, China is poised to play a bigger role in its development."
With the rise of cloud computing, the scale of a data center is becoming increasingly larger, making energy efficiency ever more important.
The Kunpeng 920, a chip developed by China's tech giant Huawei, not only boasts record-breaking computing performance but also delivers 30 percent higher performance per watt than the benchmark chip in the industry.
"Processors are the pillar of the computing sector. A powerful chip can greatly enhance a company's capabilities," said Hou Jinlong, senior vice president of Huawei.
The Kunpeng 920 was among the 15 world-leading scientific and technological achievements unveiled at this year's WIC.
The achievements, selected by a group of 39 experts from around the world, cover artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud computing, digital manufacturing, industrial Internet and other Internet-related fields. More than half of them were developed by Chinese tech firms.
Coordination, Cooperation Important
"Home to a growing number of tech giants, China has played a bigger role in the International Telecommunication Union," said Malcolm Johnson, secretary-general of the union. "In today's Internet, coordination and cooperation have been more important than ever."
According to the World Internet Development Report 2019 released during the WIC, China ranks second globally in the development of the internet, trailing only the United States.
Among all countries, China ranks first in the application of the internet and second in innovation capacity and industry development, said the report.
As digital technology is rapidly changing the way humans live, there has been an increasingly urgent need to harness its economic and social impacts and shape a constructive consensus for the public good.
"At the WIC, unveiling cutting-edge technologies to the world and promoting coordination in global cyberspace governance can help reach consensus and narrow differences," said Zhang Li, assistant president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
Zhang expressed hope that the international community could make joint efforts to overcome barriers and build a community with a shared future in cyberspace.
New Growth Momentums
In 2018, the size of China's digital economy grew to 31.3 trillion yuan (about 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars), accounting for 34.8 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a report on China's internet development released Sunday.
E-commerce in China is booming. In 2018, the country's e-commerce transactions totaled 31.6 trillion yuan, up 8.5 percent. E-commerce services generated 3.5 trillion yuan in revenue, up 20.3 percent.
In a move to boost the digital economy, China started the construction of six national-level pilot zones for innovation and development of the digital economy on Sunday.
The pilot zones will be established in the Xiongan New Area in Hebei Province, Chongqing Municipality, as well as Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces.
The regions are expected to seize the opportunities to deepen supply-side structural reforms and play an exemplary role in developing the digital economy, said Yang Xiaowei, deputy head of the Cyberspace Administration of China.
The establishment of pilot zones aims to explore various aspects of the digital economy, including new production relations and resource allocation, so as to unleash new growth momentums, according to the plan for the pilot zones.
Tokyo, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — The Tokyo Motor Show opens this week with plenty of futuristic technologies but absent one of the auto industry's hugest influencers: Nissan's former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Since Ghosn's arrest for alleged financial misconduct in November 2018, Nissan has seen its sales and profits tumble drastically.
At a presentation to reporters Wednesday, two senior Nissan executives talked up electric vehicles featured at Nissan Motor Co.'s booth. Ghosn is gone, but his legacy was evident in the many initiatives he spearheaded while running the company for nearly two decades.
As the company struggles to recover from nearly a year of chaos in its leadership, its rivals are pushing ahead.
The Tokyo show gives automakers a chance to showcase some of the industry's upcoming mobility technology, including ecological fuel cells and personal transport devices that look like scooters.
The show also features virtual reality shows and sports performances by robots. For kids, there are sections devoted to Legos, miniature cars and driving games.
Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Executive Akio Toyoda took center stage, appearing first as an animation character in his likeness named Morizo.
"We put people first," Toyoda said, standing on a huge stage designed to evoke a futuristic city.
Toyoda said his company will focus on "the power of people," offering services in addition to new models, such as ecological commuting, mobile charging and the use of robotics and artificial intelligence to connect people in cars.
The main goal of the Tokyo show has been to woo Japanese consumers. World premieres are usually made at the U.S. shows, in Detroit and Los Angeles.
But all the major Japanese automakers had sprawling colorful booths.
American automakers like General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., which have poor sales in Japan, usually skip the show, including this year. Among the more conspicuous foreign participants was French automaker Renault SA, Nissan's alliance partner, whose booth faced Nissan's.
Yokohama-based Nissan's newly named CEO, Makoto Uchida, and his predecessor Hiroto Saikawa, who resigned last month over his own financial scandals, did not make appearances at the media presentation.
Nissan officials said Uchida hasn't officially taken up his post and is still in charge of Nissan's China joint venture. His successor there has not yet been chosen and it's unclear if all that will be done within this year, they said.
At this year's show, Nissan introduced two concept model electric vehicles, one a sport-utility vehicle and the other a tiny car, known as "kei" in Japan that its executives said would become commercial products soon.
Nissan pioneered electric vehicles, leading the industry with its Leaf hatchback, said Kunio Nakaguro, executive vice president in charge of research and development. Nissan has sold 430,000 Leafs.
Design chief Alfonso Albaisa, who also took stage, stressed how Nissan models boasted futuristic sleek and what he called "charming" forms characteristic of Japanese culture to highlight a bright future. "So much innovation in such a little box," he exclaimed of the tiny IMK concept car.
The Nissan executives also highlighted plans for bringing new technologies, such as "hands off driving" and "automated parking" to market.
"We are not just going big on electrification. We are also thinking big on next generation driver assistance technology," said Albaisa.
Running on a loop on huge screens at Nissan's booth was a video of tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who has signed on to promote Nissan.
"Exactly a year ago, an upset of the century," it said, referring to Osaka's Grand Slam win.
Nissan has appeared rudderless at times since the sudden departure of Ghosn, who was sent by Renault to lead a spectacular turnaround at the company in the late 1990s.
Ghosn says he is innocent. He was released on bail after a dramatic months' long struggle with prosecutors who insisted he should stay in detention. He is awaiting trial, likely not until next year, for allegedly falsifying financial documents to hide future compensation as well as charges of breach of trust in making dubious payments to businessmen for personal gain, according to Tokyo prosecutors.
In statements and comments on videotape, Ghosn has insisted that Japanese executives at Nissan plotted against him out of fears the company might lose some of its autonomy in a merger with Renault.
Nissan announced earlier this year that it's cutting 12,500 jobs, or about 9% of its global workforce, to reduce costs and achieve a turnaround.
The reshuffling of its top leadership and measures to strengthen its governance should have come earlier, analysts say.
Such serious problems send negative signals to managers and employees throughout a company, and enable cover-ups that result in poorer quality products, undermining profits in a competitive market, said Cindy Schipani, a professor of business law and governance expert at the University of Michigan.
"The bottom line is that corporate governance requires leadership with integrity. Otherwise, they could send the company into a downward spiral," Schipani said.
Washington, OCT 23 (XINHUA/UNB)-- Chinese, Australian and U.S. scientists used the world's fastest supercomputer Summit to process simulated observations of the early universe ahead of the construction of the radio telescope to be built in Western Australia and South Africa.
Researchers from the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States and Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China processed 400 gigabytes of data a second as they tested data pipelines for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, according to an ICRAR statement released on Tuesday.
"Completing this test successfully tells us we'll be able to deal with the data deluge of the SKA when it comes online in the next decade," said Andreas Wicenec, the director of Data Intensive Astronomy at ICRAR.
Wicenec said it was the first time radio astronomy data has been processed on this scale.
The SKA is one of the world's largest science projects, with the low frequency part of the telescope set to have more than 130,000 antennas in the project's initial phase, generating around 550 gigabytes of data every second.
"The fact that we need the world's biggest supercomputer to run this test successfully shows the SKA's needs exist at the very edge of what today's supercomputers are capable of delivering," said Wicenec.
Summit, located at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the world's most powerful scientific supercomputer, with a peak performance of 200,000 trillion calculations per second.
The test run used a cosmological simulation of the early universe at a time known as the Epoch of Reionization, when the first stars and galaxies formed and became visible.
They used the Adaptable IO System developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to resolve a bottleneck caused by trying to process so much data at the same time, according to Oak Ridge lab.
An Tao with the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory said the data was first averaged down to a size 36 times smaller before being used to produce an image cube of a kind that can be analysed by astronomers.
"Finally, the image cube was sent to Perth, simulating the complete data flow from the telescope to the end-users," said An.
Construction of the SKA is expected to begin in 2021. The SKA project is supported by 13 national members, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Britain.