Bumper PC sales push Apple to new record

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The Independent Online

Annual sales of Apple products have topped $20bn (£980m) for the first time in the pioneering company's 31-year history, and the resurgence of the Macintosh computer has pushed it into third place in the global PC market.

The company confirmed the numbers in financial results yesterday that blew through Wall Street's forecasts, while a promise of a bumper Christmas to come sent the shares to an all-time high.

Steve Jobs, founder and chief executive, said in just the past three months, Apple had sold 10.2 million iPod music players, 1.1 million iPhones and a record 2.16 million Macs. The "halo effect" from the popularity of the iPod has encouraged consumers to look again at Apple's desktop computers and laptops, and the company has edged out Gateway and Toshiba to become the third most popular PC manufacturer, after Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Sales have also been helped by the roll-out of Apple's own retail stores, which number 197 already. Another 40 will be opened in the next 12 months, the company said last night, including its first outlet in China.

"It's interesting, Apple is becoming again a Mac story," said Shannon Cross, an independent technology analyst. "The iPhone is very important to guidance – and iPods as well – but the Mac shipments were really strong and what really helped drive the upside this quarter."

Apple's profits in the three months to 30 September were $904m, up from $542m in the same period last year. For the financial year as a whole, profits were up 74 per cent to $3.5bn, on sales of $24.0bn. It said the next quarter's profit would be above the current consensus forecast on Wall Street, since the new range of iPods and the iPhone are expected to be among the year's most popular Christmas presents.

"We enter the holiday season with Apple's best products ever," said Mr Jobs.

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