Surging iPhone sales worldwide have earned Apple record-high profits for the fourth quarter as it prepares for its first major product launch in three years ago. A doubling of iPhone sales helped Apple on post record-high quarterly net profit of $3.38 billion in the fiscal quarter ending December 26.
Apple said revenue in the first quarter rose to $15.68 billion from $11.88 billion in the corresponding quarter a year ago.
"If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it's surprising that Apple is now a $50 billion-plus company," said the iconic California firm's chief executive Steve Jobs. "The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about," said Jobs.
Apple has maintained trademark secrecy regarding an event on Jan. 27 event at which it is expected to debut a tablet computer along the lines of an "iPhone on steroids," according to analysts. Apple executives refused to comment on the event during the conference call, telling analysts to "stay tuned."
The technology rumor mill is busy grinding speculation that the culture-changing firm has made a notepad-shaped tablet computer with a color touchscreen that lets people browse the Web, listen to music, watch movies or television shows and also read electronic books and newspapers.
A tablet would be Apple's first major product release since it came out with its winning iPhone three years ago. Apple credited iPhone sales with catapulting profit in the freshly-ended quarter to $3.67 per share, beating Apple's previous record-high by nearly $850 million.
Apple said it sold 3.36 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, 33% more than a year ago, and 8.7 million iPhones, up 100% from a year ago.
However, sales of iPods slid eight percent to 21 million units in a year-over-year comparison. Apple executives noted that while sales of traditional iPod models declined, those of top end iPod Touch models rose 55% resulting in a slight increase in revenue in that product category.
Apple said its share of the MP3 music player market remains at more than 70% and iPods are gaining ground internationally. Apple's online iTunes store also logged a record-breaking quarter.
Apple has expanded iPhone sales to 86 countries including China. "We have really just started to get going in China," Cook said. "I like what I see so far." Apple has activated more than 200,000 iPhones in China since it began selling them in that country at the end of October.
Apple said 58% of its revenue in the quarter came from outside the United States. Apple reported that revenues in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China tripled while sales also surged in Western Europe.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010