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Apple breaks iPhone sales record again

Gregg Keizer | April 20, 2011
But iPad 2 suffering from 'mother of all backlogs,' says exec.

Marshall's betting that Apple will solve the supply problem quickly, perhaps as early as the current quarter, which ends June 30.

During the Q&A section of the call, Cook was asked why Apple -- which sold 7.3 million first-generation tablets in the last three months of 2010 -- couldn't meet demand for the iPad 2. Was it a forecasting error, an analyst asked.

"Product transitions are never simple," Cook answered. "And remember, we have to call [manufacturing numbers] many many weeks in advance."

Marshall bought that explanation. "I do think it was the transition," he said. "The iPad 2 is 33% thinner and 15% lighter. It's not that easy to build them."

Gottheil also didn't believe Apple made a error in forecasting. "Anytime there are people still queued up for a new product, I can't see how you screwed up," Gottheil said.

Also important to remember, said Gottheil, is that while Apple has several years of experience in predicting iPhone sales -- and matching that with production -- it has only one year with the iPad.

"I'd argue that Apple did customers a favor by telling them, 'Oh, by the way there's a hot new one out soon,'" Gottheil said, talking about Apple's February announcement that it would start shipping the iPad 2 the following month.

Apple sold 3.8 million Macs, off last quarter's 4.1 million but 28% more than the same quarter in 2010. This was the first quarter in the last six that Apple did not set a new Mac sales record, but the 20th consecutive quarter it beat the computer industry average growth rate.

Last week, IDC and Gartner estimated that global industry sales contracted by 3.2% and 1.1%, respectively.

"The Mac is kicking butt in the PC world," Gottheil said.

Oppenheimer credited continued strong sales of the MacBook Air, which debuted in 2010, and renewed sales of the MacBook Pro line -- the latter was refreshed last February -- for the boost to Mac numbers.

Apple racked up 2.8 million notebook sales, an increase of 53% over than the same quarter of 2010, but down 5% from the even stronger final and holiday-oriented fourth quarter of last year.

Desktop sales were off 12% from the same period last year, a much steeper decline than 2010's final quarter, when the fall-off was just 1%.

CEO Steve Jobs, who remains on an indefinite medical leave that started in January, did not participate in today's call. But Oppenheimer stepped in to knock Android, Google's mobile operating system, a task that Jobs has taken on in the past.

 

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