Tim Cook: Apple Watch Sales ‘Exceeded Expectations’

As expected, Apple did not share specific sales numbers on the Apple Watch during its third quarter earnings call, but Apple CEO Tim Cook did shed some light on how well the Apple Watch did during its first quarter of availability. According to Cook, Apple Watch sales “exceeded expectations” despite supply continuing to trail demand at the end of the quarter. “We feel really great about how we did,” he said.

Cook also pointed out that Apple Watch sales during their first few months of availability were higher than sales of the original iPad and iPhone when those devices first became available for sale. June sales, he said, were higher than those in April or May.

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Apple includes the Apple Watch in its “Other Products” category in an effort to keep its competitors from getting a detailed look at its shipments. Other Products includes the Apple Watch, the iPod, the Apple TV, and accessories like Beats headphones.

During the third quarter of 2015, the Other Products category saw $2.6 billion in revenue, up from $1.7 billion during the second quarter of 2015, a difference of nearly a billion.

Cook said “it would not be inaccurate” to look at the sequential change or the year over year change and “assume that’s the Apple Watch revenue,” hinting that Apple Watch revenue in the quarter hovered around $1 billion or higher. Apple CFO Luca Maestri made a similar statement to the Associated Press, stating revenue from the Apple Watch amounted to “well over” the $952 million increase between the two quarters. Both Maestri and Cook also pointed out that iPod and accessory sales, which are also included in the category, are shrinking.

Aside from analyst estimates that range from an estimated 2.85 million sales to 5.7 million, the $1 billion revenue difference between Q2 and Q3 is the closest we’ve come to learning how many devices Apple sold.

Cook went on to say that beyond the “very good news in sales,” Apple is excited about how the Apple Watch is positioned for the long term. There are now 8,500 apps available for the device, and the company is poised to release watchOS 2 in the fall, which will bring native apps and performance improvements. “We believe the possibilities for Apple watch are enormous,” said Cook.

Some LaGuardia, JFK airport workers to strike starting Wednesday

(Reuters) – Some security workers and baggage handlers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports plan to strike starting on Wednesday night, their union said on Tuesday, potentially affecting travelers and airline operations.

Harbinger sues Dish, Ergen over LightSquared, seeks $1.5 billion

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Harbinger Capital Partners, the hedge fund firm run by Philip Falcone, filed a new lawsuit accusing satellite TV company Dish Network Corp and its chairman, Charles Ergen, of illegally trying to strip it of control of wireless company LightSquared during its bankruptcy.

Backpage Sues Sheriff’s Office That Pushed Credit Card Companies To Ditch The Site


WASHINGTON — Classified advertising website Backpage filed a lawsuit against an Illinois sheriff’s office on Tuesday, alleging the sheriff had convinced major credit card companies to stop processing payments for listings on the site, therefore violating the free speech rights of its users.  

The suit comes less than a month after Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart sent a letter to the CEOs of MasterCard and Visa, in which he argued Backpage plays a role in furthering sex trafficking in the U.S. by hosting thousands of ads for prostitutes.

Both companies ceased processing payments made on the site within days of receiving Dart’s letter. American Express had stopped allowing payments to Backpage’s adult category earlier this year.

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Wall Street Journal, accuses Dart of using the power of the sheriff’s office to compel the card companies not to do business with Backpage.

The suit alleges that Dart “not only infringed Backpage.com’s rights to publish and distribute speech, but the rights of millions of the website’s users to post and receive protected speech.” 

“Sheriff Dart’s actions to cripple Backpage.com and all speech through the site are an especially pernicious form of prior restraint,” it continues. “He has achieved his purpose through false accusations, innuendo, and coercion, whereas, if he had brought suit directly or Cook County had attempted to pass a law to shut down the website, Backpage.com would have had a fair opportunity to respond and defeat such efforts, given well-established law.”

The company is seeking damages to make up for the lost revenue from ad postings, as well as compensation for the value of lost goodwill and punitive damages.

“It is regrettable that Backpage has dedicated so many resources to lawyers and lobbyists when they could be partnering with law enforcement to seek justice for sex trafficking victims,” Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Benjamin Breit said in a statement to The Huffington Post. 

The lawsuit escalates what has been a long-simmering feud between law enforcement and the company. 

Ever since Craigslist stopped posting ads for “adult services” in 2010, Backpage has been the undisputed industry leader in online prostitution ads. The site published over 1.4 million adult services ads in the U.S. in April of this year, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. The classified site argues it is not responsible for the ads its users post.

“For years, Sheriff Dart has laid out to Backpage the numerous instances where pimps and traffickers have used their site for criminal purposes and attempted to negotiate in good faith with Backpage’s management to find common ground and put traffickers behind bars,” Breit said. “Unfortunately, this outreach was met with little more than delaying tactics and empty promises.”

It’s easy to see how cutting off credit card processing could seriously dent Backpage’s profit stream. All told, revenue from ads for adult services tops more than $100 million per year for the company, Cook County reports.

When HuffPost attempted on Tuesday to post a dummy ad in the adult services section of Backpage, the only payment option available was Bitcoin.

Liz McDougall, a lawyer for Backpage.com LLC, told The Wall Street Journal the goal of the lawsuit “is to ensure that one elected official, particularly a county sheriff, cannot dictate what speech is or is not appropriate.” Backpage is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. 

This article has been updated to include a statement from Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Benjamin Breit.

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Tennessee suspect’s family sees depression, shame behind rampage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez’s family believe deep depression and shame over an drunken driving charge may have led him to go on a rampage in which five U.S. servicemen died last week, a source close to the family said on Tuesday.

Silk Road drug dealer turned government witness gets 2-1/2 years in prison

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York computer consultant who appeared as a key government witness against the founder of the underground black market website Silk Road was sentenced on Tuesday to 2-1/2 years in prison.

VILLAWAY:  A Luxury AirBnB for the Jet Set


Contributing Writers: Gabriella Werre and Farah Karabeg

Has the future of luxury travel arrived? The acceleration of collaborative consumption has paved the way for businesses and people alike, completely revolutionizing the economy and epitomizing “what’s yours is mine.” As startups continue to dominate the shared economy, one to watch in the luxury, short-term rental marketplace is VILLAWAY, which seeks to equate luxury with accessibility.

Joe Liebke, founder and CEO of VILLAWAY, the Luxury Vacation Rental Marketplace, has created a game-changing platform amassing luxurious estates and villas from property managers worldwide into one, easy-to-use website. He describes the business model:

VILLAWAY is an umbrella platform for certified and vetted luxury property managers to host and showcase their finest inventory, from around the world. VILLAWAY allows users, whether agents (earning a commission) or direct consumers, to inquire and shop directly with our destination experts, who are local to the travelers destination, while conducting transactions through a safe secure booking, processing, and payment platform.

In the VILLAWAY marketplace with over 5,000 luxury vacation villas in over 100 world-class destinations, anything you need, want or desire is yours. The VILLAWAY platform includes options with a full suite of concierge services, including villa meet and greets upon arrival, airport pick-ups, private chef and catering options, in house private masseuse, access to local events, activities and a dedicated personal concierge to assist with all of your needs during your stay. VILLAWAY is able to market properties at substantially lower marketing fees than agencies, providing property managers an incomparable deal.

Diverging from the standard agency model by switching to a transactional digital platform allows the company to create a highly accessible marketplace for high-end properties where travelers and homeowners come together for commerce that is unrestricted by the burden of high commissioned agency middlemen. VILLAWAY also provides a special suite of tools for travel agents, concierge companies and other rental agencies to book villa vacations for their clients and earn industry rate commissions.

There’s really nothing out there that does quite what VILLAWAY can for both the consumer as well as property owners and managers. Think AirBnB, but with a fully dedicated team and process to make sure travel experiences not only meet but exceed expectations which is a requirement for the high-end market. VILLAWAY enables quick and convenient searches of certified luxury properties and allows travelers access to thousands of them at the click of a button.

The entire process is seamless: you browse through beautiful villas by location, price, amenities, and consult with a local property manager and online concierge to plan and book your trip within minutes. The service offers the same level of five star quality experience globally from Los Angeles, California, to Riviera Maya, Mexico to Koh Samui, Thailand and so on. “Consistency of quality experience is the key that our clients count on,” states Liebke.

As the shared economy booms, it’s the opportune time for this luxury service to serve the appetite of the globe trotting jet set. “Speed is life. People are realizing their money can go much further than a 600 square foot hotel room and we’ve expedited our initiatives with VILLAWAY to deliver affluent travelers what they want,” Liebke reveals. “There’s more privacy, more luxury and, most important, the unique feeling of being at home wherever you go, when you stay in a private villa. If a group of friends or an extended family go on a holiday, most likely they’ll want to be together, not two floors up and twenty doors down from each other.”

As for the future of luxury travel, it may already be here. VILLAWAY is officially launching in August 2015. Villa vacationing is becoming the new preferred way to go for people in the know. As the company’s motto clearly states, “VILLAWAY is the Best Way to Stay!”

Luxury travel at a glance:

  • $23 billion in vacation home rental industry
  • 1 in 4 people book vacation rentals online
  • 1 trillion spent on luxury travel in North America alone
  • 1 million luxury homes addressable on the market

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Your Facebook Photos Are Fair Game for Prosecutors

A New York state court ruled Tuesday that Facebook must comply with search warrants allowing government prosecutors to sift through users’ photos, messages and personal account information as part of an investigation of Social Security fraud.

The appeals court ruling said that the social network cannot challenge search warrants for 381 users’ Facebook data, although individual defendants can move to suppress the evidence. New York law enforcement agents have used Facebook photos showing public employees riding jet skis, playing golf and performing martial arts to prove that the defendants were lying about physical disabilities, Reuters reports.

“In many cases, evidence on their Facebook accounts directly contradicted the lies the defendants told to the Social Security Administration,” a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office told Reuters.

So far, 108 people have pleaded guilty to felony charges, and they must pay back about $25 million, according to Bloomberg.

A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the company—which has argued that the search warrants give prosecutors too much access to private information—is considering an appeal.