Apple’s holiday quarter sees record mobile sales, but profits flat

Apple on Monday reported its financial results for the three-month period from October to December last year, presenting us with a mixed bag of figures that include the first full quarter of sales of two new phones, and the introduction of two new iPads.

The tech giant sold a record number of iPhones in the run up to Christmas – 51 million – topping the 50 million mark for the first time. The sales included those of both the 5S and 5C devices (which launched late September), as well as the 4S.

While the majority of Apple’s rivals can only dream of such sales figures, this was four million units short of Wall Street expectations. The disappointment contributed to an 8 percent drop in the company’s share value Monday.

Apple doesn’t break down its figures by handset, though CEO Tim Cook added to speculation that the company might ditch the lower-priced 5C model when he said during his company’s quarterly earnings call that demand for the device “turned out to be different than we thought.” Perhaps we can read between the lines here and suggest that’s code for “lousy”.

A recent Wall Street Journal report suggested the Cupertino company will do away with the “unapologetically plastic” 5C handset some time this year and instead concentrate on new large-screen devices with metals casings.

In the final months of 2013, Apple launched two new iPads – the full-size iPad Air and the new iPad Mini with Retina display – a move which helped pull in 26 million sales, slightly above Wall Street expectations of around 25 million and up from 22.9 million 12 months earlier.

Other hardware sales included 4.8 million Macs for the three-month period – up from 4.1 million a year earlier. iPod sales, you may not be surprised to learn, continue to fall (6 million for this last quarter compared to 12.6 million 12 months earlier).

Apple’s global chain of 420 brick-and-mortar stores generated $7 billion in revenue, with an average of 21,000 visitors per store each week.

Overall, Apple posted record quarterly revenue of $57.6 billion and a quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to $54.5 billion revenue and $13.1 billion profit for 2o12’s holiday period.

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