Apple exceeds expectations, roars of quarterly iPhone shipments

Apple reported a quarter that exceeded many analysts' predictions, and sales of its much-ballyhooed iPhone gadget remained white-hot; the company reported selling 3.8 million iPhones during the past three months, generating $1.5 billion in revenues.

The numbers don't come as much surprise, though. AT&T Mobility earlier today reported activating 1.6 million iPhones during its quarter, a number Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster used to predict Apple's overall iPhone shipments to within around 100,000 units.

Nonetheless, Apple's continued success on the cell phone front likely means the company's competitors will remain focused on touchscreen smartphones in an effort to one-up the firm. Indeed, Apple executives repeatedly claimed the company is "years ahead" of its competitors, noting the 21 million iPhones on the market and the 1 billion applications downloaded through the App Store. Questioned specifically about the forthcoming Palm Pre, Apple executives declined to comment.

IPhone stats: Apple sold 3.8 million iPhones and recorded $1.5 billion in iPhone revenues during its quarter, way up from the 1.7 million iPhones and $378 million in revenue the company posted in the year-ago quarter.

Overall financials: Apple recorded company-wide revenue of $8.16 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.21 billion. The numbers were up from the $7.51 billion in revenue and net quarterly profit of $1.05 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Outlook: Apple said it expects revenues in the coming quarter of between $7.7 billion and $7.9 billion, with earnings per share of between 95 cents and $1. Company executives also said they were "excited about the other products in our pipeline," without providing details. Rumors have swirled of a new iPhone model to be released this summer.

During Apple's quarterly conference call, executives said the company will defer iPhone 3G revenues until the company releases its 3.0 operating system for the device, scheduled for this summer.

Interestingly, Munster questioned Apple executives about the company's relationship with AT&T--the exclusive carrier of the iPhone--noting that Piper Jaffray research showed some shoppers were bypassing the iPhone due to concerns over AT&T. However, Apple executives described the carrier as "a very good partner" and said Apple has no intention of changing carriers.

Investors appeared cheered by Apple's earnings; the company's stock rose 3 percent in after-hours trading.

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