Apple iPhone sales lower than expected for Q4

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Apple may have just had its second-best fiscal quarter of all-time, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy the high expectations of Wall Street analysts, who had predicted even higher sales for the Cupertino, California, company.

Apple’s new chief executive Tim Cook reported Tuesday that the company sold 17.07 million iPhone units during its fourth fiscal quarter of 2011, which ended on September 24. That’s up 21 percent from the more than 14 million phones Apple sold during the same period the year before. Analysts had predicted Apple would sell 20 million iPhone units.

The supposedly “weak” iPhone sales are likely due to Apple’s later-than-normal release of its newest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, which Apple unveiled on October 4 and went on sale last Friday, after the fourth quarter had ended. Apple executives told analysts during the call that rumors that a new iPhone was in the pipeline likely slowed sales of earlier iPhone models.

Apple says it sold a record-breaking 4 million iPhone 4S units during the first three days of sales alone, likely due to pent-up consumer demand caused by the longer wait time for this year’s new iPhone. (Apple has traditionally announced the new iPhone model in June.) With demand for the iPhone 4S at an all-time high for the company’s phone business, Cook said Apple’s leadership are “very confident that we will set an all-time record in the December quarter for iPhone sales.”

Overall, Apple saw revenue rise to $28.27 billion during the fourth quarter, a 39 percent rise from the same period last year, but significantly less than the 89 percent year-on-year jump Apple saw during the third quarter. Apple profits rose to $6.6 billion, a 54 percent increase, but still less than analysts had expected.

Of the $28.27 billion, 67 percent came from sales of iOS devices, which include the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lines. Apple sold 11.2 million iPads during the fourth quarter, a 116 percent rise year-on-year. But iPod sales fell a full 27 percent from the year-ago quarter to 6.62 million units. Mac sales increased 26 percent over the fourth quarter of 2010 to 4.89 million units sold across its Mac brand.

apple-4q11-earnings-chart

[Chart via SplatF]

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