Apple's Mac sales climbed 7 per cent year on year, the company said last night, despite the impact from the transition to Intel processors and the seasonally slower post-Christmas quarter.

Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer waxed positive, saying: "We are extremely happy at how well the Intel transition is going. We are confident on how our strategy to innovate in our product line is going, and we are very excited about products we plan to introduce in future.

"We are on track to transition the whole Mac line by the end of the year," he added. Intel Mac shipments levels continued to grow throughout the quarter, the company said.

Intel transition blip confirmed

Speaking in January, Oppenheimer had warned that the company expected to experience some slowdown in sales as customers waited for Intel-powered versions of the Macs they want to ship.

This turned out to be the case, he said: "As we anticipated, the pause was even more evident in the March quarter."

Mac hardware sales now account for 50 per cent of the company's overall business, he revealed, and the company has inventory on hand of around 4-5 weeks worth of product.

Mac sales rise

Apple sold 1,112,000 Macs during the quarter, returning $1.572 billion in revenue - a 4 per cent increase in units shipped and 5 per cent increase in revenue year on year.

The desktop/notebook sales figures are: desktops, 614,000 units for $833 million (up 1 per cent in units and 4 per cent in revenue, year-on-year); portables, 498,000 units for $739 million (up 8 per cent in units and 7 per cent in revenue, year-on-year).

Geographic breakdown

Geographically, the Americas remains Apple's chief market. The company shipped almost half a billion Macs there in the quarter (494,000) returning $2.122 billion in revenue. On a year-on-year basis this represents 4 per cent more Macs sold for a 47 per cent climb in revenue.

Europe remained strong - 316,000 Macs shipped accruing $996 million in revenue. On a year-on-year basis this means unit shipments climbed 14 per cent while revenues saw a 37 per cent uplift in the quarter.

Japan remains a challenging market for the company. That region saw 82,000 Macs shipped for $309 million in revenue. On a year-on-year basis that's 20 per cent fewer Macs shipped, though revenue managed to climb 9 per cent all the same.

Apple combines its wholly owned subsidiary, FileMaker, with its regional Asia Pacific sales. These combined entities managed to account for 66,000 Mac sales, as well as other products to contribute $326 million in revenue to the company - 36 per cent up, year on year.

Component costs decline spices the quarter

Apple's gross margins for the quarter hit an unexpected five-year high of 29.8 per cent, as the company benefited from lower than anticipated component costs in the quarter. "We were able to secure lower prices than we had anticipated in the quarter - particularly on LCD screens and flash memory," said chief operating officer, Tim Cook.

The executives voiced a little concern that the transition may be impacted by the non-availability of some key applications for Intel Macs. They confirmed Apple to be working with Adobe to accelerate the release of Creative Suite 3.

Otherwise, Apple's third-party developers continue to ship versions of their applications that run natively on PowerPC and Intel-powered Macs.

"We have over 1,500 third-party Universal applications currently available," the company said. Apple has already released Universal versions of key software packages, including iLife, iWork, Final Cut Studio, Aperture and Logic.

The company's 'Software, Service and Other Sales' category returned excellent results, with revenue up 36 per cent year on year to $324 million.

Let the switch begin

Despite its release of Boot Camp software that lets Mac users boot their computers up in Mac OS X and Windows XP, Apple also said that it has no intention of selling or supporting Windows in future, but does expect the solution will make Macs more attractive to users of the other platform.

The company sees more growth opportunities ahead: "We are optimistic about further market penetration generally and our ability to grow market share," Oppenheimer explained.

"We're very excited about the other products we have in the pipeline," he admitted.