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Apple's iPhone sets sales record, up 131%

Execs field questions about iPad, including possible price cuts and supply

April 20, 2010 07:42 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple reported record iPhone sales today, marking the third consecutive quarter the company has reset the bar for its smartphone. The company also sold a record number of Macs for the first calendar quarter of any year.

"They sold an enormous number of iPhones," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

In the quarter than ended March 31, Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones, a 131% increase over the same quarter the year before; and 2.94 million Macs, up 33% compared with last year's first quarter.

"iPhone sales were at an all-time high," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday afternoon. Sales overall, Oppenheimer added, "exceeded our expectations," and made the January-March stretch Apple's "best non-holiday quarter ever."

Calling the iPhone growth rate "staggering," Tim Cook, the company's chief operating officer, noted that sales of the phone topped the record-setting fourth quarter of last year, beating that period by about 56,000 devices.

Cook called out the 477% year-over-year sales increase in Apple's Asia and Pacific region as a major contributor to the iPhone's numbers, something that Gottheil picked up on. "China has been interesting," said Cook, lumping together mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"In Greater China, iPhone units were up over nine times year-over-year [and] through the first half of the fiscal year, the last six months, our revenue in China was almost $1.3 billion," Cook said.

"The iPhone's performance was better than I expected, what with the likely softening of the market as the next approaches," said Gottheil, talking about the anticipated next-generation iPhone that Apple is expected to launch this summer. "But outside the U.S., where the new iPhone introductions are delayed, Apple had a great performance."

Although Mac sales missed setting another overall record, Oppenheimer boasted that the company's personal computer division posted "a new record for Mac sales for a March quarter."

Desktop Mac sales were up 40% year-over-year to 1.14 million, less than the 70% increase of 2009's final quarter and that period's 1.2 million iMacs, Mac Minis and Mac Pros.

MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air unit sales, meanwhile, were up 28% for the quarter to 1.8 million, down on the unit count of 2.13 million from the previous quarter but up 10 percentage points from the fourth quarter's 18% growth rate.

As has long been the case, Apple sold more laptops than desktops last quarter. But the scale slid even further toward the latter: Desktops accounted for 39% of all Mac sales last quarter, compared with 36% in 2009's fourth quarter.

"The desktop is back," Gottheil said.

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