October 19, 2009, 8:31 PM — If there's one thing the last couple of years should have taught you, it's that the economy -- both as a whole and as ostensibly modelled by the stock market -- doesn't consist wholly of rational actors engaging in economic exchanges for mutual benefit. I'm always reminded of this in the lead-up to Apple's quarterly earning report. As an Apple fan, I've had the benefit of doing this blog in the era when the company runs from success to success, and the quarter just concluded is no exception: record Mac sales (with a desktop sales dip more than compensated for by a notebook sales explosion), iPhone 3GS sales outrunning Apple's expectations so much that they had to revise their supply chain arrangements, $1.67 billion in profits, etc.
That's a good thing, right? Well, yes, except that good things had already been anticipated by stock traders and the tech press. Thus, things aren't necessarily great unless they're ever better than we thought. Apparently they were -- Apple stock price is up in after-hours trading, despite dire warnings. This, of course, opens up the possibility that people are just kind of giddy. Of course, in some ways Apple contributes to this cat-and-mouse game by releasing conservative estimates that inspire exuberance when they're surpassed.
In the real world, of course, $1.67 billion is a lot of money and record sales reflect well on a company. The problem is that a company has to keep shareholders happy, which can cause a lot of the unreal world to leak through into reality.
(Oh, and on the rumor tip: iMacs, MacBooks, Mac minis, and a multitouch trackpad thingie tomorrow? Or, in another instance of the conflation of the unreal and real, just some fun Jon Gruber is having with Fake Steve Jobs?)