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Stephen Foley: Apple disappointment is less than it seems


Outlook In retrospect, the news that Apple had sold 4 million iPhone 4S smartphones in the three days since its launch should have been a clue.

The device is on course to be the most successful consumer electronics launch in history, even though the iPhone 4S is, quite frankly, not all that much better than its predecessor. The orgy of buying reflected not spontaneous consumer lust, but rather pent-up demand from people who (we now know) had put off buying an iPhone until the newer version hit the shelves.

And so Apple's quarterly results, for the period ending just before the iPhone 4S launch, disappointed Wall Street, one of only a handful of occasions in the past decade where this has been the case. The shares slid 7 per cent in the minutes after the news, though they had cut their losses to half that by the middle of yesterday's trading session.

Analysts who had thought to revise up their sales forecasts in the light of the iPhone 4S launch have had to revise them right back down again, but these are small issues in the grand scheme of things. Apple is still producing the most desirable phone on the planet and, as its quarterly figures showed yet again, the halo effect for other Apple products is not dimming. On the contrary, the company sold a Macintosh computer every two seconds in the last quarter, with revenues from this division up 26 per cent on the same period last year.

There will be bumps along the road as Apple navigates the post-Steve Jobs era. These results are not one of them.