Apple Computer has finally laid to rest the ghost of former chief exec Gil Amelio, yesterday unveiling gross revenues of $13.93bn and a net profit of $1.335bn, following its best-ever fourth (or any) quarter with revenues of $3.658bn and profit of $430m.
At last, the folks at Cupertino won't have to compare themselves to the horribly halcyon days of 1995, when 25 per cent of all web browsing was done with a Mac (if you can believe the stats collated here) and they raked in $11bn in revenues and had net income of $424m (see for yourself here, where there's a nice graph).
For years they've had to rely on people not looking too far back, and pointing just to the previous year or the previous quarter, and not asking questions like "Where did all your revenues go, then?" or "Why aren't you selling as many computers as you did?" Now they can, 1984 style, just say that 2005 was their best-ever year so far.
But wait - in 1995 Apple shipped a million Macs of various guises. This time round, how did it do?
According to the conference call on Tuesday night, it shipped 1.236 million Macs, of which 634,000 - just more than half - were notebooks. Sales of desktop machines seemed to slow down, but chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer (who has been there since 1995) and financial chief Tim Cook evaded questions on whether this means the Mac Mini is not doing as well as hoped. That one million-odd figure for the quarter is 48 per cent up from that a year ago, which only shows how woeful sales of the computers had become.
But that's not the whole story, of course. Apple also shipped 6.451m iPods, including one million iPod nanos in the 17 days between its launch and the end of the fourth quarter on September 17. Cook said that supply of the nano is "still far short of demand" which he called "staggering". And those scratches and broken screens? "We've had very very few calls from customers," said Cook. "We don't believe it's a widespread issue. It's made of the same material as the fourth-generation iPods. For customers who have concerns, we suggest they use cases now on the market." And thus put some more money in Apple's coffers, of course.
In fact iPod sales fell short of investors' expectations, and Apple shares fell 10 per cent in after-market trading.
The results show that Apple's computer side is becoming less and less important to its financial statements, though of course the computers generate far better margins than the iPods. Quite probably the next quarter, from now until the end of December, will see iPod revenues finally turn the computer side into the rump of the business.
And of course you're wondering if the analysts managed to squeeze any more information about what's coming tomorrow. Mostly, not, apart from one or two little gems.
First, Oppenheimer gave his "guidance" on how the next (fiscally, the first) quarter will do. He's forecasting $4.7bn revenues. Why so much higher, asked the 'lysts? Because there are "forthcoming products" in the iPod line. Well, that sounds like new iPods for sure. Video? Oh, don't ask.
It's quite fun hearing Oppenheimer and Cook playing Avoid The Question Time (as the novelist Jasper Fforde calls it). Listen yourself (here; requires Quicktime) for an hour of body swerves. ®