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Think Apple is big now? You ain't seen nothing yet

Tom Kaneshige | July 22, 2010
All signs from Apple's jaw-dropping quarter point to even greater times ahead, says analysts.

FRAMINGHAM, 21 JULY 2010 - All signs from Apple's jaw-dropping quarter point to even greater times ahead, says analysts. Even businesses are riding this wave. Eighty percent of the Fortune 100 are either deploying or piloting the iPhone, boasted Apple COO Tim Cook during the quarterly earnings call, and 50 per cent are doing the same with the iPad.

"It's incredible," Cook says.

This week, Apple posted rosy third-quarter earnings highlighted by a 78 per cent jump in profit to $3.25 billion from $1.8 billion a year ago. Revenue grew 61 percent to $15.7 billion, up from $9.7 billion last year. "Apple's earnings growth was pretty darn impressive," says Gartner analyst Van Baker.

Apple's quarter was driven on four fronts: Apple's new iPad, Macs, iPhones as well as solid international sales.

Apple's iPad has leapt out of the gate: Consumers gobbled up 3 million units in the first 80 days since its launch in April. It's an entirely new product category with a sea of potential ahead of it. "Our guts tell us that this market is very large, and we believe that iPad is really defining it," noted Apple's Cook.

Part of the iPad's success is that it taps into the emerging e-reader market. Amazon recently validated e-readers by pointing out that e-book sales are beating hard-cover book sales. In only a few weeks since its debut, the iPad captured 16 percent of the e-reader market, surpassing more established players like the Sony Reader (10 per cent) and seizing second place behind the Amazon Kindle (62 per cent), according to ChangeWave Research.

What does this mean for consumers? "Media tablets like the iPad are going to drive the price of e-book readers down," says Gartner's Baker. "We'll see a $99-ish price point this year."

One of the big surprises in Apple's earnings report was the record-setting sales of Macs. Apple sold 3.47 million Macs during the quarter, a 33 percent growth from the year prior, beating the 22 per cent PC industry growth rate.

Wasn't the iPad supposed to cannibalize the Mac market? Apple said it's still too early to tell, although Baker doesn't think the iPad will cannibalize the Mac down the road. Rather, iPad sales will come at the expense of netbooks, which Apple doesn't play in. "It's not likely to impact Apple too much," he says. "We don't think it will hit the mainstream notebook market at all."

Of course, another hot Apple product is the iPhone. Apple sold 8.4 million units in the quarter, 61 per cent more than the same quarter a year ago. The iPhone has been selling like hotcakes every quarter, but rough conditions this quarter make the number of units sold even more impressive.


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