Apple's Q4 2007 results: Up, up, up and away

It is not often that a major PC vendor reports a 44% unit growth for its PCs, while also increasing revenues from the same products by 47%. Even less common to see that growth both in desktops and notebooks. Granted, Apple's desktop business is driven by certain vertical markets, such as education, and is therefore not to the same extent reliant on the PC mass markets as Acer, Dell and HP. However it does show that there is still money to be made in an industry that is under severe ASP pressure.

What makes Apple's results even more unusual in the IT industry is that even though its iPod shipments are now stabilizing and maturing as a market (22 million units, up 5%) it still managed to increase revenues by 17%. This implies a shift in the product mix towards more expensive units. When the iPod Shuffle launched in Q3 2007 our expectations were that this could reduce the overall iPod ASP. Perhaps unit pick up of the Shuffle has not been that strong‾

The two wild cards in the stack are the iPhone and its iTunes business. The iPhone may not be on the stellar path that many predict, and its iTunes business (music and video) is only growing by 27.4%. With higher quality music downloads (and upgrade paths), movie downloads, and TV series we would expect the iTunes business to grow quicker.

But by all means, more or less everything is going up, up, up and away. However, if there is a US recession Ovum cautions on Apple's iPhone business (which today is mainly driven by the US, with indications of stock buildup in Europe).

Furthermore, a recession could also spell problems for its newly announced MacBook Air, its premium iPod business and its iTunes music, but most likely, movie rental and download service. So even though Apple is doing very well, it has been riding the wave of economic boom.  If this comes to a halt, so could Apple.

Carl Gressum, senior analyst at Ovum

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