Five takeaways from the Apple earnings call

Apple's doing great in China, not so well in tablets, and R&D spending is increasing

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Apple reported its quarterly numbers on Tuesday, a mixed bag that saw profits rise up but sales fall short of the mark. Here are five takeaways from the earnings call that followed.

Apple's pouring more money into R&D

Apple has spent US$3.3 billion in the past nine months on research and development. That's 3.1 percent of revenue, putting it on course to beat its R&D spending for the past several years. The last time spending reached that level was 2009, and it could still go higher yet. In the April-to-June quarter, R&D spending was 4.3 percent of revenue, a level not reached since before the iPhone launch. What's driving the spending? Only Apple knows, but a good guess would be the iPhone, which will reportedly soon see a major overhaul, and Apple's much-rumored wearable. It's worth noting, however, that Apple's R&D spending is lower as a percentage of revenue than many of Silicon Valley's big enterprise tech firms.

Forget sales, iPad users are happy, and Apple says that's what counts

At 13.3 million units, iPad sales were down more than a million from the same period last year. Tim Cook said that's what he was expecting, but he acknowledged it caught most everyone else by surprise. What he's more focused on, he said, are surveys showing how happy people are with their iPads. If only happiness could pay the bills. He did hint that while sales might be declining, Apple has got more tricks up its sleeve. "We still feel the category is in its early days and there is significant innovation we could bring to the iPad." Of course, he didn't say what it might be.

Apple is killing it in China

Even Cook admitted that Apple's performance in China was "surprising." Sales there were $5.9 billion, just a couple of billion dollars off Apple's total sales for all of Europe. "We thought it would be strong, but it went past what we thought," he said. Thanks in large part to a new deal with China Mobile, iPhone sales in China jumped 48 percent, Macintosh computer sales were up 39 percent and even iPad sales rose.

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