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Category: iMac

Apple earnings: $97.6 billion in the bank, and other highlights

Apple Store, San Francisco

Apple just reported its best quarter of all time, as covered by my colleague David Sarno here on the Technology blog.

The Cupertino tech giant reported a boost in sales of iPads, iPhones and Mac computers (but not iPods), pushing it into a record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and $13 billion in profit for the first quarter of the company's 2012 fiscal year.

Let's take a closer look at Apple's huge numbers for the quarter ended Dec. 31, which showed strong holiday sales and sent shares in the company up 8% after the markets closed Tuesday.

Cash balance -- One major number to note from Apple's earnings report, as mentioned in its earnings call, is that the company has a cash balance of $97.6 billion, up from $81 billion a year ago.

That's a massive amount to be sitting in the bank and it's a sum Apple will spend in part on developing new products that will help it remain competitive against rivals such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and Motorola.

Revenue -- Apple racked up $46.33 billion in sales in the 14-week quarter, which is up from $26.74 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Profit -- The tech giant reported a $13-billion profit last quarter, which is more than double the profit the company reported for its first fiscal quarter of 2011.

IPhones -- Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, which marks 128% growth from a year earlier, when the company sold 16.25 million iPhones.

IPads -- Sales of the ever-popular Apple tablet grew 111% when compared to the year-earlier quarter, with 15.43 million iPads sold for the company's fiscal 2012 first quarter  versus 7.33 million iPads sold in the first quarter of 2011.

IPods -- The iPod isn't dead yet, but it is on the decline. Apple sold 15.4 million iPods last quarter, down 21% from 19.45 million iPods sold a year earlier.

Mac computers -- Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop PCs -- which includes MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Minis and the Mac Pro -- saw a 26% increase in sales from the year-ago quarter, with 5.2 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2012 and 4.13 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2011.

"Portables," which would include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, made up the majority of Macs purchased, with 3.71 million units sold last quarter, up from 2.9 million sold a year ago. Apple sold 1.48 million desktops last quarter, up from 1.23 million sold a year earlier.

Looking ahead, Apple said Tuesday that it is projecting it will record about $32.5 billion in revenue in the second quarter of its fiscal year.

[Updated: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Apple's profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year was $6 billion. Apple reported a $13 billion profit last quarter and recorded $6 billion in profit a year earlier.]


Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Photo: An Apple Store in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

Apple exec Philip Schiller

Apple Inc. is selling a whole lot of just about every product it makes -- and investors are loving it.

The company's stock shot up more than 8% after it announced that the holiday quarter was its best ever, with revenue and profit setting all-time records. Apple sold more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers than in any three-month period in its history.

The company smashed Wall Street projections with revenue of $46.33 billion in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, more than $7 billion more than analysts had expected and a 74% increase over its quarterly revenue from a year earlier. Profit was just as strong: Apple's $13.06 billion in earnings beat analysts' expectations by $3 billion, and the number more than doubled from the same quarter a year earlier.  

"They just demolished it," said analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. "Everyone thought they were too big -- that there was too much information out there and they couldn't pull off a surprise like this, but boy did they ever."

Apple's bestselling product continued to be its iPhone. The company sold 37.04 million of the devices, by far eclipsing its iPhone sales record of 20.3 million set in the April to June quarter. It also took a leap forward with its iPad, selling 15.43 million units of the tablet computer -- more than 4 million more than it had sold last quarter in its previous quarter. Apple sold 5.2 million Mac computers, beating its mark of 4.9 million, also set last quarter.

“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook in a statement. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

Analysts expect that Apple will have a strong year of new products, possibly announcing a new iPad in March, a newly redesigned iPhone during the summer and potentially an Apple-branded television set later in the year.


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Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

-- David Sarno

Photo: Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, discusses a new textbook initiative in New York last week. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Apple's new iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U apps are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing

NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.

The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.

If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget -- provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.

Apple has even built into iBook Author HTML5 and Javascript support for programmers looking to take their books beyond what the app can do itself; multi-touch interactions for pinch and zoom views of photos and swiping gestures are also included.

Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.

The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible -- whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."

Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt ... but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."

In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.

But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.

On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools -- though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.

Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.

Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.

In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).

"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.

The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.

Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.

Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.

Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.

In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.

For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet -- maybe someday a TV -- what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.

iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

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Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple

Apple's Mac App Store hits 100 million downloads in year


Apple has hit 100 million downloads from its online software shop, the Mac App Store. 

When the company opened the digital shop in January of this year, its goal was to put an end to the old days of PC software on a box -- the kind users bought from brick and mortar stores like Best Buy or Fry's, or Babbage's, or Software Etc., or Egghead Software, or the Softwarehouse, or CompUSA. (Am I missing any obvious ones?)

After all, the logic goes, software is just 1's and 0's -- so why would you need to drive somewhere to pick up a shrink-wrapped package full of it?

So far, the approach appears to be working. The store is averaging 8 million downloads per month this year. That includes the summer launch of Lion, the latest version of its Macintosh operating system, which sold more than 1 million digital copies in its first day, far outpacing sales of any previous OS X release. 

What the company did not say is how many of the 100 million apps downloaded were, specifically, its operating system -- or how many of them were counted from the many free apps available on the store. 

However, some companies do approach online software sales by offering free and paid apps.  Autodesk Inc. offers a simpler, free version of its AutoCAD software through the store, and its $900 AutoCAD LT version for pros (or amateurs that get hooked).

Apple also said its iPhone and iPad-based App Store hit 18 billion total downloads. That store went online for the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2008.

-- David Sarno (@dsarno)

Image: Graphic of Mac App Store Logo.  Credit: Rob Boudon / Flickr

Black Friday: Apple discounts iPad, iPods, Macs

Apple Store online screen shot

It being Black Friday today, Apple's annual sale (online and in Apple Stores) is here and the discounts are coming in about as expected -- small price drops but nothing too dramatic.

For the one-day sale, Apple lopped $101 off of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac prices. Not discounted are the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro.

The iPad is on sale today too, with a $41 discount off of the 16-gigabyte model, $51 off the 32-gigabyte unit and $61 off of the 64-gigabyte tablets. The discount puts the iPad into a price range of $458 to $768, rather than the usual range of $499 to $829.

Apple also is taking a tiered discount approach with the iPod Touch, with the 8-gigabyte model selling for $178 ($21 off), the 16-gigabyte unit priced at $268 ($31 off) and the 32-gigabyte device at $358 ($41 off).

The iPod Nano is $11 cheaper than usual, selling at $118 for 8 gigabytes of storage and $138 for 16 gigabytes. Not on sale, iPod-wise, is the iPod Shuffle, pegged at $49, and the iconic, yet aging iPod Classic stuck at $249. Apple's most popular product, the iPhone, isn't on sale either.

Mice, keyboards and iPad covers are also on sale, as well as non-Apple products such as the Blue Yeti USB microphone, an M-Audio MIDI keyboard, a few laptop bags and backpacks, select iPhone cases and even Microsoft Office for Mac.

The full list of Apple's Black Friday discounts, which are being offered alongside free shipping, can be seen here.


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Image: A screen shot of's online store, with Black Friday discounts. Credit: Apple Inc.

Apple updates iMac line with quicker processors, graphics and Thunderbolt I/O


Apple updated its iMac all-in-one computer line on Tuesday, adding faster quad-core processors, its FaceTime HD video chat, faster graphics cards and Intel's new Thunderbolt high-speed connector technology.

The starting price to an iMac is staying the same -- $1,199.

Apple says that with the new Intel processors, the refreshed iMacs are up to 70% faster than the previous generation lineup and perform up to three times faster in graphics ability, due to new, speedier AMD Radeon HD graphics processors.

The iMac update brings quad-core Intel processors across the lineup -- previously a dual-core chip was an option.

Thunderbolt, a connector technology developed by Intel with some help from Apple, is capable of transferring data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second -- much faster than USB 2.0 transfers of about 480 megabits per second.

Thunderbolt can also be used to connect computers to external monitors and transfer data at the same time, all with a single cable, as well as "daisy chain" by connecting to multiple devices at once, through one port.

As it did with the MacBook Pro when the laptop line gained the new faster connector ports, Thunderbolt will replace Apple's mini-display port on the back of the new iMacs.

Available screen sizes for the iMac are also staying the same, with the computer being offered in a 21.5-inch screen size (which gets one Thunderbolt port) or a larger 27-inch display (which will be equipped with two Thunderbolt ports).

Apple is also adding a high-definition video camera to its iMacs, sitting just above the screen, which can be used with the company's FaceTime video chat software, which runs on the iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod Touch and camera-equipped and Intel-based Mac computers. 


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: Apple iMac computer. Credit: Apple

Apple unlimited music downloads: the last step before streaming?

Itunes Apple is in talks with record companies to allow users to download music tracks they buy on iTunes to any iTunes-enabled device, Bloomberg reported Friday. That would presumably mean any song you buy for your iPhone could then be downloaded multiple times (for no extra cost) to your iPad, your Mac or your PC.

In many ways this move is exactly in line with what other media publishers have already started to do -- let users pay once, and use anywhere.  That way, users can forget whether they first bought a book or television show for a specific device, and just watch it whenever and wherever they want.

Apple, which now controls a huge chunk of the music business through iTunes, also wants to get to that place of ultimate convenience, and has been moving in that direction for some time.

The company has already got AirPlay, which lets users play songs from any iTunes device through an Apple TV.  And this week Apple said the new version of its iOS operating system will enable users to play music and video stored on one device on the screen of a second device, over WiFi.

If and when Apple gets the music industry to agree to repeated downloads, there's no longer any real barrier to cloud-based, streaming music -- where listeners won't have to wait for downloads, because they'll be able to immediately play any song in their online music collection.

The e-book industy has largely pioneered this approach:  If you buy an Amazon e-book, you can download it to your Kindle, your PC, and any smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app installed.  The same is true for books bought through Google. Even Apple's iBookStore allows users to sync their books between the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

This is increasingly also the case with movies and TV shows, where services like Netflix allow users with monthly subscriptions to watch movies and TV on any Netflix-enabled device, whether that's a Roku box or a TiVo, an iPad, an iPhone, Windows Phones and soon, Android.  You can watch these movies and films as many times as you want.

Though newspaper and magazine publishers are a little further behind the game, they''ll all be multiplatform soon too.  The for-pay Wall Street Journal, already on the iPad, was early in releasing an Android app, and magazine publisher Condé Nast has said Android additions are on the way too.

When it comes to ease of accessing content you've bought online, the only real holdout is the music industry. 

On the league-leading iTunes system, users have long been frustrated with their inability to keep all their purchased music in one central place.  The result is often a set of Apple devices -- a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, say -- all with different fragments of your music collection.  That collection, incidentally, does not reside on a remote server, but on your own devices -- so if you've been downloading music from Apple for years on a series of devices, it becomes a confusing jumble. 

That's why Bloomberg's report makes sense:  Apple doesn't like clutter.  What they like is allowing people to easily buy things, and be able to access them without friction -- the better to get people to buy even more.

The remaining question may be:  If the record companies jump on board with this model, will they let users who bought songs through Apple listen to the songs on non-Apple devices? 

Or would that be too easy...


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Apple App Store near 10 billion downloads; $10,000 iTunes prize announced


Apple's App Store has resulted in almost 10 billion downloads,some paid, some free -- and to whomever downloads the 10 billionth app will go a $10,000 iTunes gift card.

The 10-billion-app mark is a testament to the power that Apple has built in its digital distribution model through iTunes and its iOS devices -- the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

ITunes has proved to be a model many other companies are seeking to be a part of and replicate on their own, without the tech giant taking a cut of profits -- especially in the struggling publishing and entertainment industries.

Even Apple is looking to re-create its iTunes success: It launched the Mac App Store on Jan. 6, a digital shop pushing apps for its desktop and laptop computers.

And it seems Apple could have knocked in another home run. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said that more than 1 million apps for Macs were purchased on the new store's first day.

Apple posted a ticker on its website Friday, displaying the countdown to 10 billion app downloads, with a paragraph of text reading:

As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide. Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet.


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Image: A screen shot of Apple's online countdown to 10 billion app downloads. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles/Los Angeles Times

Apple offering Black Friday only deals: $101 off MacBook, $41 off iPad


For Black Friday shoppers, Apple pared down its prices, which were unveiled Friday morning on the company’s website. It's a rare move for a company that shuns discounting its products.

Looking for an iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? You can buy it Friday only at a $101 discount.

The iMac and MacBook Pro start at $1,098. The 3-pound MacBook Air is going for $1,198.

There are no discounts on the iPhone. But iPod touch is pegged at $208, a $41 discount. And the popular iPad tablet is being sold for $458, or $41 off.

Accessories can also be bought on the cheap with discounts on chargers, cases, earphones and headphones.

Shoppers can cash in on the deals anytime online or visit any one of the company's Apple retail stores.


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Image: Apple iPad. Credit: Apple Inc.

Apple releases update of Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple released an update for its Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system on Wednesday night that will enhance the "stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac."

The updates are available for free on Apple's website in a download "combo," which includes all updates and fixes for any version of Snow Leopard Mac users might have. The Snow Leopard update is also available to Mac owners by choosing "Software Update" from the Apple menu, a function that will also look for updates for other Apple applications a user may have installed on their computer.

The updates include, among other items:

  • Improved reliability with Microsoft Exchange servers
  • Improved performance of some image-processing operations in iPhoto and Aperture.
  • Improved stability and performance of graphics applications and games.
  • Improved Ethernet internet connection reliability.
  • A fix for a printing issue for some HP printers connected to an AirPort Extreme.
  • A fix for an issue when dragging contacts from Address Book to iCal.
  • A fix an issue in which Wikipedia information may not display correctly in Apple's Dictionary application.
  • Improved reliability with some Bluetooth Braille displays.
  • Improved Bluetooth pairing with Magic Trackpad.
  • Improved syncing between Apple's Address Book application and Google services.
  • A fix for an issue when replying to a Mail message sent by a person whose name contains certain characters such as é or ü.
  • Improved security.

Apple advises that Mac owners back up the files on their computer to an external hard drive before downloading the update. Apple also released a security update for Leopard, the previous version of Mac OS X, late Wednesday night as a free download.


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Image: An Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer and a box for Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system. Credit: Apple Inc.


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