Mac sales up modestly; iPhone profits stone cold bonkers

Say, remember last week when IDC proclaimed, based on its own unofficial estimates, that Mac sales would be down this quarter compared to the year-ago quarter by as much as 12 percent? Well, turns out not so much! In fact, sales rose by 4 percent, which isn't exactly a stunner, but, as you may have heard, there's a bit of an economic crunch going on, and Apple insists on selling expensive computers, so it's a triumph in its own way. (IDC estimates that PC sales as a whole are down three percent, but then this is the same company that pegged Mac sales as being down twelve percent, so take that with a grain of salt.)

Meanwhile, of course, Apple sold a kajillion iPhones in the same period, so many that, inevitably, iPod sales slipped for the first time ever. The company may not be all that worried about that, however, because as it turns out iPhones are almost dementedly profitable. You see, it turns out that, despite the fact that the iPhone is more expensive than most phones, each individual phone makes much more money for Apple than each individual cheap phone, with the upshot that Apple and RIM's smartphones make up only 3 percent of the handset market but account for 35 percent of the revenue.

In the Apple earnings call, Tim Cook for the zillionth time took the opportunity to throw cold water on the Apple netbook idea: "Our goal is not to build the most computers, it's to build the best. Whatever price point we can build the best at, we will play there. At this point, we don't see a way to build a great product for this $399, $499, this kind of price point, unit." That hasn't stopped the rumors of an $800 tablet/netbook thingie, which, in the latest version of the story, is going to be subsidized by Verizon, which will surely come a great joy to all the Mac fanatics likely to buy it who already have an account with AT&T.

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