Apple reported its latest quarterly financials last night, and as results go they were pretty stonking. The company’s revenues rose 12.3% year-on-year to $42.1bn for the quarter, while its net profit rose 13.3% to $8.5bn.
In the third quarter of this year – Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter – the company sold 39.3m iPhones, 12.3m iPads, 5.5m Mac computers and 2.6m iPods, while the company’s iTunes Store set a new record for billings of $5.4bn, albeit fuelled more by apps than music, as the App Store passed 85bn total downloads during the quarter.
This being a fiscal fourth quarter, we can also see some figures for Apple’s last full financial year: the company sold 169.2m iPhones, 68m iPads and 18.9m Macs, posting revenues for that fiscal year of $182.8bn.
But there was one less positive trend in the latest financial results: iPad sales have fallen for three quarters in a row now, sparking concern that the tablet category is not growing as fast as Apple (and its shareholders) had hoped.
Not that CEO Tim Cook was accepting that line of thought. “Instead of looking at this thing each 90 days, if you back up and look at it, we’ve sold 237m in just over four years. That’s about twice the number of iPhones that we sold over the first four years of iPhone,” he told analysts in Apple’s earnings call last night.
Cook also described the current decline as “a speed bump, not a huge issue… I know that there is a popular view that the market is saturated, but we don’t see that… What you do see is that people hold on to iPad longer than they do a phone. And because we’ve only been in this business four years, we don’t really know what the upgrade cycle will be for people.”
In any case, Apple’s business appears to be in much more robust health than its critics had been suggesting, while the company’s cash reserves are certainly rich enough to handle whatever it has planned for a streaming music push in 2015, from marketing campaigns to exclusive deals to (possibly) subscription subsidies.
But on the digital music side, there was also some news on the iPod, which from next quarter won’t have its sales broken out individually. Instead, it will be bundled into a category called ‘Other Products’ with Beats headphones and speakers, Apple TV, accessories and (from next year) Apple Watch.
With iPod sales continuing their decline – down 24.6% last quarter – and with no new iPod touch models in sight, this looks like a slow goodbye to the pioneering product range.