Apple: 13 M iPhones sold in total, 2.6 M Macs sold last quarter

5:23 pm EDT October 21, 2008 - During Apple's afternoon earnings call for its fiscal fourth quarter on Tuesday afternoon, CFO Peter Oppenheimer reported that any slowdown on iPod unit growth was effectively stopped, along with record Mac and iPhone sales.

Since the premiere of the iPhone 3G in July, Apple has sold 6.9 million units according to company estimates -- which compares to 6.1 million first-generation iPhones sold over the entire life of the product up to the 3G launch date.

And incredibly, Oppenheimer noted, the company shipped some 2.6 million Macs, including both desktops and notebooks. This compared to an estimated 2.2 million units shipped in the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, and 1.57 million units shipped in Q4 of 2006.

This during a quarter where revenue shot up 27% annually to $7.9 billion, and net income grew 26% to $1.14 billion. These figures use accepted GAAP reporting principles, although the company inaugurated new non-GAAP adjusted reporting techniques as an alternative for this quarter.

"Apple has become the world's third largest mobile phone supplier. I know it's crazy, but it's true," reported CEO Steve Jobs this afternoon, making an unusual special guest comment. Jobs added that Apple outshipped Research in Motion during the previous quarter, by virtue of its 3G iPhone launch. "There's no guarantee that sustained sales will equal initial sales," Jobs warned.

Update banner (stretched)

12:00 pm EDT October 22, 2008 - The rate of growth in Mac shipments in the US remains just enough to maintain Apple's #6 position nationwide, behind Toshiba in most estimates. But it is catching up, albeit slowly, and with a competitor that sells mostly notebook computers to all market segments including the "value" customer at the low end.

As Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer reported during yesterday's conference call, Mac sales for his company could actually have been higher had sales not tapered off in September, due not to the economic slowdown in his opinion, but rather customer anticipation of Apple's updated MacBook and MacBook Pro lines.

"We're pleased to have shipped over 2.6 million Macs, which was a new company record for any quarter," Oppenheimer said. "This represents 21% year-over-year growth, and was higher than the overall PC market rate of growth for the September quarter, based on the latest estimates published by IDC."

Analysts currently project the average rate of PC market growth for the year at about 14% to date, a number which will probably decline as the year plays out. But during the last holiday quarter, Apple experienced a surge in Mac sales representing almost 40% annual growth. Still, 21% growth in a typically seasonally slow quarter is impressive, but probably right in line with #5 Toshiba's growth rate at present.

If Apple really wanted to grow faster, it could conceivably attack the low end of the market. But that's not in the company's DNA, according to CEO Steve Jobs; and what's more, he doesn't feel there's a growing market for value-priced PCs.

"This particular downturn [in the economy] is not creating a market of cheaper computers," Jobs told one analyst. "That market has existed for some time, and there are parts of that market that we choose not to play in. I think when people want a product of the class that we make, over and over again, people have done the price comparisons and we're actually quite competitive. So we choose to be in certain segments of the market, and we choose not to be in certain segments of the market.

"And the question is, is the downturn going to drive some of our customers to those lower segments of the buy lesser products?" he continued. "I will be surprised if that happens in large numbers, and I actually think that there are a tremendous number of customers that we don't have in the Windows world or in the other 99% of the phone market that we don't have, who would like to -- and can afford to -- buy Apple products. So we'll see what the ratio of those two things are, but we're not tremendously worried."

The tremendously successful launch of the iPhone 3G catapulted Apple, by its own estimates, above Research in Motion in sales for the quarter...even though it's just with one phone. And of course, there's a downside to that fact, but for now, Jobs preferred to bask in the glow of the 3G's success.

"Apple beat RIM! In our most recent quarter, Research in Motion reported selling 6.1 million BlackBerry devices, compared to our most recent quarter sales of 6.9 million iPhones. Apple outsold RIM last quarter, and this is a milestone for us. RIM is a good company that makes good products. And so it is surprising that, only after 15 months in the market, we could outsell them in any quarter," Jobs stated.

"But even more remarkable," he continued, "is this: Measured by revenues, Apple has become the world's third largest mobile phone supplier. I know this sounds crazy, but it's true." According to his rundown, Nokia reaped $12.7 billion for the quarter, followed by Samsung at $5.9 billion, Apple at $4.6 billion, Sony Ericsson at $4.2 billion, LG at $3.4, Motorola at $3.2, and finally RIM at the #7 slot with $2.1 billion.

Part of the reason for that, CFO Oppenheimer admitted, was Apple's record revenues reaped from carriers worldwide that support the iPhone.

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