"Clearly, demand continues to outstrip supply, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon," said Marshall. "They just don't have enough manufacturing [capacity]."
Marshall wouldn't speculate on how the limited supply of iPhones will affect the launch on Verizon in the U.S., but Apple's implication was that there may not be enough to satisfy the initial demand by people wanting to ditch AT&T, or by current Verizon customers who have lusted for the iPhone but refused to switch carriers.
Gottheil said he thought Apple would meet demand for its CDMA iPhone on Verizon as long as the company's projections were accurate -- not something Apple has always managed well.
The iPad's fourth-quarter sales totaled 7.3 million, a jump of 75% from the prior period, and the second consecutive quarter that the tablet has outsold Apple's Mac line.
However, the unit-sale gap between the two widened in the last three months of 2010, with the Mac group selling just 56% as many systems as the iPad division did tablets. In comparison, in the third quarter -- the first when iPads outsold Mac -- Apple sold 97% as many Macs as iPads.
IPad sales were higher than the average projection of 6.2 million, and higher than all but three estimates by either Wall Street or amateur investment analysts, according to a table collated by Fortune earlier on Tuesday.
Apple racked up 2.9 million notebook sales, an increase of 10% over the previous quarter and 23% more than the same quarter of 2009.
Gottheil attributed the surge in laptop sales to the October introduction of new MacBook Air systems, and the higher average sale price of Apple's notebook line to buyers opting for the more expensive 13-in. models rather than the entry-level $999 11.6-in. MacBook Air.
Desktop Mac sales, however, were down 1% year-over-year, to 1.2 million, a slight decline from the third quarter and off from the same quarter in 2009.
Gottheil said he found even that small slip surprising, since both comparisons were to quarters when Apple revamped its iMac systems. "Desktop sales a year ago were very strong and leapt to record numbers," he said, impressed that Apple was still able to nearly match those numbers.
Exec slams Android tablets
Although Jobs wasn't available, Cook stepped in to bash Android, as Jobs did during the last earnings call when he vowed that Apple's iPhone "will triumph" over smartphones running Google's mobile operating system.
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