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Apple boasts record Q1 as revenue tops $10bn

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Apple announced its first-quarter financial results today, beating estimates from the Wall Street guessmen.

But these were almost secondary. During the Q&A session that ended their Q1 earnings call, Apple spokesfolks skirted questions about Steve Jobs's health, dissed netbooks, reaffirmed their support for Apple TV, and fired a shot across the bulbous bow of the Palm Pre.

First the numbers, which set new records for the Cupertino computer consumer-electronics manufacturer.

Revenue for the company's first quarter - which runs from September 1 through December 31 - surpassed $10bn "for the first time in Apple's history," according to the effusive Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's senior vice president and chief financial officer. The exact figure, $10.17bn, led to another record for the quarter: $1.61bn in profits.

Compared to the same quarter last year, revenues were up 5.94 per cent and profits 1.90 per cent - not exactly earthshaking growth, but not too shabby during a quarter in which PC sales plummeted worldwide.

Before you say "but Apple's no longer just a PC manufacturer - that growth must be coming from the iPhone and other Apple gadgetry," know that Apple's Mac sales were up nine per cent over the same quarter in 2007 to over 2.5 million.

Of those Mac sales, the solid majority - 72 per cent - were laptops, reflecting the release of customer's pent-up demand when the new MacBook line was introduced in October, according to Oppenheimer.

Desktop sales were another story. They declined 21 per cent year-on-year - although Oppenheimer sought to soften the news by explaining that the new iMacs released in 2007 spiked the desktop market just as the new MacBooks did in 2008.

Adding to the relative weakness of Apple's desktop offerings, sales of the Mac Pro have slipped from 2007 to 2008.

The iPod had a year-on-year increase as well, but of only three percent. Still, a boatload minus three per cent is still quite a load: Apple sold 22,727,000 iPods during the quarter.

The increase in iPhone sales was an astronomical 88 per cent year-on-year, with just under 4.4 million being sold. The Jesus Phone now has 13.7 million apostles.

Apple's cash position remains strong, increasing from $25bn in the previous quarter to $28.1bn. If only our personal cash positions had such a comfortable year-end quarter.

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