Apple says to look at fall, 2014 for 'amazing' product developments

23rd Apr 2013 | 20:52

Apple says to look at fall, 2014 for 'amazing' product developments

Millions and millions of Devices

Tim Cook and Co. probably did a collective "nah nah nah nah nah" with their thumbs near their ears after Apple's earnings report came out today, besting analyst predictions and showing that those calls for the CEO's head may have been premature.

By the numbers, the firm sold 37.4 million iPhones during the three-month period ending March 30, up from 35.1 million the same quarter one year ago. It's a relatively modest bump, but another iDevice was ready to pick up the slack.

The iPad bounded through the quarter, with sales amounting to 19.5 million, topping 11.8 million units sold the same time last year.

All told, the company posted $43.6 billion (around UK£28.6 billion, AU$42.5 billion) in revenue and a net profit of $9.5 billion (around UK£62.3 billion, compared to revenue of $39.2 billion (around UK£25.7 billion, AU$38.2 billion) and $11.6 billion (around UK£7.6 billion, AU$11.3 billion) in profit from last year.

And Cook left listeners on the company's earnings call with this teaser: "Our team is working hard on amazing hardware and software developments we can't wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014."

Gold medal days

We've heard it many (many) times before, but this proved to be a record-setting quarter yet again. The iPhone and iPad set new sales records for the period while iTunes set a new all-time revenue record, the gathered Apple-ites bragged.

'Tunes saw quarterly billings of more than $4 billion (around UK£2.6 billion, AU$3.9 billion) with revenue rising 28 percent year-on-year.

More iPad minis were sold during the March quarter than in the previous quarter, with the vast majority being first time iPad buyers.

On the product side, the biggest blemish was a drop of 2 percent in Mac sales. The company sold 4 million in the same quarter last year but failed to breach that number on this go around.

"The reason we were down 2 percent is that the market for PCs is incredibly weak," Cook offered by way of explanation, citing recent research that the market as a whole contracted sharply. "It's the largest decline that I can remember from being in this industry for a long time."

Could cannibalization from the iPad be to blame?

"At the same time [as Mac sales fell], we sold almost 20 million iPads," Cook said. "It's certainly true that there is some cannibalizing of Macs ... but I don't think it's a huge number. Some people are probably extending their upgrade cycles.

"That said, I don't think this market is a dead or dying market by any means. We think it's an alive market and that the iPad could actually end up benefiting the Mac because people think about the product they're buying in a different manner.

"Our strategy isn't changing. We're going to continue making the best personal computer ... we have more great stuff planned."

On the App Store side, CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed the company pays $1 billion (around UK£655 million, AU$976million)to developers every quarter as customers have helped download 45 million items.

Take note

Speaking of upcoming offerings, as noted earlier Cook signaled that the fall and next year are where folks need to pay attention for major announcements.

"I don't want to be more specific," Cook said as to whether there won't be significant product introductions between now and September. "I'm just saying we have some really great stuff coming in the fall and across all of 2014."

The company is exploring "exciting new product categories," though Cook declined to give specifics. Reports point to Apple coming up with its own wearable tech in the form on an iWatch, though again, no specific categories were named.

Cook also touched on confidence in the company's supply chain, a relationship structure that can seem shaky at times.

"The work that we do to create truly innovative products is very hard," he said. "But we are working very hard with our manufacturing partners to execute what we feel is a very exciting roadmap."

Unsurprisingly, Cook's attitude towards 5-inch iPhones hasn't changed since last quarter, with the CEO explaining that there are too many tradeoffs in making a larger screened device than what Apple is willing to sacrifice.

"Our competitors have made some significant tradeoffs in order to ship a larger display," he said, ticking off features like resolution, color quality, portability and compatibility with apps. "We would not ship a larger iPhone while these tradeoffs exist."

Despite what are certainly strong figures, Cook cautioned that going into the current quarter, the company's growth rates have slowed and its margins have dropped markedly from the heady days of 2012.

We don't doubt the company will continue to bring in billions, but there are wolves circling the company's market share.

Apple, however, trusts it can keep them at bay.

"Samsung is the top competitor and, married to Google on the operating side, obviously that's our top competitors," Cook said. "But we feel we have the best products by far."

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