Apple doubles iPhone sales in another record quarter

Apple reported its highest quarterly revenue and profit ever in its fiscal first quarter, and the company doubled sales of its popular iPhone, creating strong momentum ahead of the rumored unveiling of a new tablet device later this week.

apple iphone quarterly shipmentsThe computer maker's results topped the record quarter it had last quarter, proof that it was buoyed during the holiday shopping season by higher sales of the iPhone and its Macintosh computers. Apple had net profit of $3.38 billion, up 50 percent from the year-ago quarter, when it had profits of $2.26 billion. The company's revenue surged to $15.68 billion, up 32 percent from $11.88 billion in the year-ago period. The company's gross margin was 40.9 percent, up from 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter and 26.6 percent in the previous quarter.

The 100 percent jump in iPhone sales from the year-ago quarter reflects both the growing number of carriers selling the device as well as the continued momentum the phone has generated in the market. Indeed, Apple's iPhone shipments have risen steadily for the past four quarters.

Apple also adopted new accounting standards that will allow it to claim the revenue from iPhone sales when they are made, rather than spacing them out over the lifespan of the device--24 months--as had been previously required. The firm said it was revising every quarter in its earnings since it began selling the original iPhone because it "believes retrospective adoption provides analysts and investors the most comparable and useful financial information and better reflects the underlying performance" of its business.

In other Apple news, the U.S. International Trade Commission said it would investigate Nokia's patent-infringement claims against the company to determine whether imports of Apple devices should be banned. Apple has made counterclaims to the ITC that Nokia is violating its own patents, but the commission is still considering whether to investigate Apple's own claims.

Meanwhile, speculation about what Apple CEO Steve Jobs will unveil at the company's media event, scheduled for Wednesday, has grown rampant. Most have settled on the idea that the chief executive will reveal a new tablet device that will allow users to surf the Web and consume media--and possibly connect to the network of one or more wireless carriers. However, many have speculated that the company also will name Verizon Wireless as its new partner for the iPhone. The iPhone has been a major growth driver for AT&T Mobility, currently the exclusive U.S. provider of the phone.

During the company's earnings conference call, Apple COO Tim Cook said that AT&T had presented Apple with plans to improve its wireless network in an effort to quell customer complaints about poor iPhone service. "We have personally reviewed these plans, and we have very high confidence that they will make significant progress toward fixing them," Cook said.

Ahead of the media event Wednesday, some analysts have gone even further about Apple's future plans: Tim Horan, an Oppenheimer analyst, said he believes Apple might release the iPhone to all major U.S. carriers within the next 18 months.

"The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about," is all Jobs said in Apple's earnings release.

For more:
- see this release
- see this chart of Apple's iPhone shipments
- see this WSJ live blog of Apple's earnings call
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Bloomberg article about AT&T

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