January 21, 2009, 10:34 PM — Apple's quarterly earnings report isn't just for number-crunchers and accounting nerds; it also offers some glimpses into Apple's upcoming moves. Today's version was generally full of good news for Apple -- $11.8 billion in revenue, $2.3 billion in net income, a tripling in sales for the Apple TV, which COO Tim Cook still refers to as a "hobby" for the company. It beat analyst's expectations, but its guidance for the coming quarter was lower than analyst's expectations for that guidance (side note: analysts predict companies' predictions, in advance?); the stock went up 4.6 percent anyway.
But for those who were hoping that Apple would work its magic on low-priced gadgets like a smaller phone or a netbook, Cook had only cold water to pour on those ideas. On the phone, he said, "You know us, we're not going to play in the low-end voice phone business ... our goal is not to be the unit share leader in the phone industry. It is to build the best phone." That seems fairly clear, though the odd "voice phone" construction could lead to rumors (which I am starting RIGHT NOW, because why not) about some kind of handheld data-only device that uses the cellular network. On the sub-$500 netbook front, he seemed equally clear: "We're watching that space, but right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that's much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays."
With the netbook ruled out, at least in the immediate future, it perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise that Apple quietly updated its only sub-$1,000 notebook offering, the white Macbook. While some might have assumed that Apple was merely clearing out old inventory by continuing to offer the product after the new unibody Macbooks were introduced, the newer version (still at the same price) gets an updated processor and graphics system on par with the low-end unibody model. The Apple Blog has a good rundown on how close this puts the low-end Macbook to its pricier counterparts.