Most analysts expected Apple to beat their conservative projections, as they have done for 13 consecutive quarters. But no one foresaw the staggering surge in profits, margins and sales. This was Apple’s best-ever quarter with a net profit of $7.31 billion on revenue of $28.57 billion. In this third quarter, Apple moved 20.34 million iPhones (up 142 percent), 9.25 million iPads (up 183 percent) and 3.95 million Macs (up 15 percent). The only area in decline, fully expected, is the iPod which has probably now had its day.
This is a quarter when, by rights, consumers should have been holding back in anticipation of new iPhones, new Macs and, even, the outside possibility a third-generation iPad. If this is holding back, imagine what will happen next quarter..
The final quarter of the fiscal year, which ends in late September, is sure to be another blockbuster. Lion arrives tomorrow and will be available for download from the App Store at a bargain £20.99. The new MacBook Airs are expected to arrive on Friday. There is also lots of new stuff in the pipeline, including the already announced iCloud and iOS 5 enhancements which will come in August or September.
The company continues to expand the retail network with 33 more Apple Stores scheduled to open by September 25. The network of stores, which has now welcomed over one billion visitors, is one of the most important factors in the rapid growth of the company. The network is unique and other hardware manufacturers have failed to compete.
Microsoft, however, is rumoured to be expanding its network of stores, including one at Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, not far from Apple’s very first Apple Store. This is either an example of supreme confidence or supreme folly and we will have to await developments.
Apple’s share price seems to have shrugged off long-standing concerns over Steve Jobs’ health, surging to over $400 in after-hours trading. Anyone who bought stock on June 20, just a month ago, will have seen a 25 percent profit. As a result of the price rise, Apple is now within spitting distance of becoming the world’s most valuable company as it rapidly overtakes Exxon.