Apple has released its latest financial figures, showing a 26 per cent rise in quarterly profits, boosted by sales of the iPhone 3G. The just-released figures haven't really shown the impact of the bad economic dramas though, prompting a warning that Apple's Christmas figures may miss market expectations based on the last few years of iPod-fuelled Yuletide shopping frenzies.

For the last three months of the year to the end of December, Apple said revenues may be come out below Wall Street's target of $11 billion.

"We may get buffeted around by the waves a little bit, but we'll be fine," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer went on to recommend prudence on sales targets. Further US recession could really take a bite - to illustrate just how important the US market is to Apple, 59 per cent of that last-quarter revenue came from US sales, the rest from international.

In the three months to 27th September, Apple made $1.14 billion in net profit, a significant increase on their figure for the same period last year.

Apple says 6.9 million of the latest iPhone models were sold during that three-month period and 2.6 million Macs, showing a rise of 21 per cent. Nearly half of the Macs sold in 2008, to date, have been laptops. iPod shipments in the quarter were 11.1 million, representing another 8 per cent rise.

Apple is still very cash rich, something most companies can't say as capitol dries up. Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said "We don't yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we're armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt."

"We're very pleased to have grown revenue 35 per cent and to have generated $9.1 billion in cash in fiscal 2008," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO. Yes, I imagine I'd be quite pleased with that, too.

Apple provided live streaming of the Q4 2008 financial results conference call via QuickTime (that's Apple's standards-based technology for live and on-demand audio and video streaming).

The announcement will be available for replay for about two weeks. Apple stock closed down $6.95 or 7.06 per cent at $91.49, but the stock rebounded in after hours trading to $93.32, up $1.83 or 2 per cent.

Meanwhile, Apple's latest ads have been tilting at Microsoft's marketing strategy instead of Windows per se.

Microsoft reportedly spent $300 millionon an ad campaign to redefine Windows Vista's image, using comedian Jerry Seinfeld (who apparently received $10 million for his troubles) plus actress Eva Longoria and author Deepak Chopra, among others.

The first part of the campaign, featuring Seinfeld chatting with Bill Gates, was cut short after people simply failed to get what they were about. That would be an expensive lesson in financially restricted times, hey?

This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald -