Apple revealed a record first quarter 2007 late last night.
The company achieved $7.1 billion in revenue for a $1 billion profit in the quarter that ended 30 December, as reported by Macworld.
Company executives, including chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer and chief operating officer Tim Cook, spoke with analysts to discuss the announcements. Edited highlights of that discussion follow here.
The company confirmed continued strength in demand for its portable computers, with the move to Intel Core 2 Duo processors also helping boost sales.
"Portable Mac shipments during the quarter grew 65 per cent year over year and accounted for 60 per cent of total Macs sold," Oppenheimer observed.
Most importantly, Apple confirmed that sales growth continues to exceed the industry average significantly. Tim Cook spread the word: "We grew at three times the market. Underneath that, if you look in some specific markets, like the US, we grew at 31 per cent versus market growth of 3 per cent."
He added: "Portables grew at 65 per cent versus IDC’s forecast at 23 per cent. This is also now eight of the last nine quarters that the Mac has outgrown the market."
Apple has applied fresh focus on generating growth in territories outside the US, and is seeing positive gains in Europe, where Mac growth hit 28 per cent against a market average of 9 per cent, Cook explained.
"We have significant momentum on the Mac. This is the eighth quarter of the last nine that the Mac outgrew the market and I don't think a lot of people can say that. So we are thrilled with this number. It is higher than what we projected. I can't speak to the models that you guys have, but we are thrilled internally on the number," Cook said.
Apple also shared its observation that 50 per cent of Macs sold are going to users who are new to the platform.
Anticipation for a move to Mac continues. The executives disclosed that 1.5 million Boot Camp downloads have taken place so far. They also confirmed that virtualisation wouldn't feature in Mac OS X 10.5 when it ships, but that the company continues to work with and support the developers of Parallels Desktop Mac.
iPod, iTunes and music products
Apple's music products continue to grow in importance to the company's overall revenue. In Q1 they accounted for 57 per cent of total revenue, Oppenheimer explained. The completion of the Intel transition may be reflected in this mix — one year ago, this category accounted for 59 per cent of Apple revenue.
"We sold 21.1 million iPods, representing 50 per cent growth over the year-ago quarter. The new iPod shuffle began shipping at the end of October and we were very pleased with the demand for all three of our iPod product lines during the quarter," said Oppenheimer.
Citing research fromNPD Techworld, Apple confirmed it held 72 per cent of the US MP3 player market in December, but it was sales of the product climb in every other country it has data for.
"iPod shipments grew even faster in international markets, which resulted in share gains in every country for which we have market data," Oppenheimer confirmed.
Cook chimed in: "We did grow iPod sales faster outside the US, which was our goal, if you recall," he said. He confirmed that the company now holds over 50 per cent of the MP3 player market in the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and Japan, as well as the US.
Oppenheimer warned that seasonal factors may cause a dip in iPod sales in the present quarter. "We have learned over the last few years that what really drives the MP3 market to new levels is innovative product launches. Given this, we would expect a higher seasonal decline from the December quarter to the March quarter this year than we saw last," he said.
Despite a dissonant December analyst report, iTunes hods a position of strength in the download market, the execs confirmed. iTunes accounted for "over 85 per cent of the US market, based on the latest data from Nielsen Soundscan," Apple revealed.
Apple retail on the up
The company's retail operations remain strong, delivering the highest sales ($1.1 billion) "in the store's history", said Oppenheimer.
An astonishing 28 million people visited an Apple store during the quarter — that's 13,000 visitors per store per week.
"The stores generated $89 million of segment margin, not including $232 million of associated manufacturing profit," he said.
The company had 170 stores open by the end of the quarter, but with an average of 169 stores open in the quarter, the company generated an average revenue per store of $6.7 million.
"The stores are a wonderful place to buy Macs today and we think they will provide customers a great experience with iPhone beginning in June," Oppenheimer said, once again implying the company has aggressive plans to market the new device at its high-traffic locations.
The company plans to open seven new shops in the period until the end of March, and to open "about" 35-40 in its current financial year. No information was given regarding the company's international store opening plans.
iPhone, Leopard, iLife '07
Apple offered some slight glances at future strategy, though as ever with the secretive company tried to maintain its customary levels of doubt and uncertainty.
Cook reprised previous announcements on the release of Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard': "We continue to plan to ship Leopard in the spring as we had announced at the developer’s conference. We have a lot of people working on it," he said.
The non-appearance of iLife or iWork' 07 raised some eyebrows at Macworld Expo — given the year of release is part of the name, some industry observers are beginning to wonder if Apple will change the names of the product, in order to free future upgrades from being predictable.
Apple chose to keep us guessing. ThinkEquity analyst Jonathan Hoopes, popped the iLife question:
"You mentioned before that iLife is a January refresh. We didn't hear anything about that during Macworld. Is iLife still on a January refresh time schedule?" the analyst asked.
Oppenheimer played the standard Apple straight bat: "We don't announce our future products, but stay tuned," he said.
Apple also talked a little on its recently revealed iPhone (once again characterising Cisco's lawsuit over use of the name "silly").
Speaking on the '3G/Not 3G' debate, Oppenheimer said: "At this point, we are very much sold on 2.5 for the EDGE network with Cingular, because it is much more widespread and widely deployed in the US."
However, with the phone set for late 2007 release in Europe — and 2008 in the Far East — there's still space to change, but Apple's CFO chose to keep phone fans guessing, at least for some time longer.
"We do not comment on our product roadmaps, and so on, but obviously we would be where the technology is over time," he explained.
This is clearly an edited selection of highlights from the conference call. You can listen to the complete discussion in QuickTime format here. It's an audio-only transmission from Apple.