Apple sales hit wall ahead of new launches

HYPE surrounding Apple’s latest products meant the company recorded a fall in sales of the iPad and fairly flat iPhone retail figures in the three months to October.

In a period that counted just two weeks of iPhone 5 sales and led up to this week’s launch of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad, Apple sold 27m iPhones and 14m iPads.

Sales in the period hit $36bn (£22.3bn), which was a 27 per cent increase on the same period last year and broadly in line with expectations. However, earnings per share were somewhat below forecasts, despite profit rising from $6.6bn to $8.2bn year-on-year.

Chief executive Tim Cook warned of reduced profit margins over the next few months due to the comparatively lower price of the iPad mini and higher production costs associated with the new iPhone 5.

However, he predicted revenue of $52bn in the next three months, which would make a record quarter for Apple.

The firm has updated its entire product line in the last few weeks.

“It’s going to be an incredible holiday season,” Cook said, adding that he was not worried about renewed competition from tablets such as Microsoft’s Surface.

“It sounds like a fairly compromised, confusing product,” Cook said. “I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats but I don’t think you could do all those things well.”

The company’s shares, which had hit a record price of $700 in September, briefly fell below $600 in after-hours trading last night before rising to around $607 – just below its Wall Street closing price.

“We were happy with the 14m iPad sales in the quarter. It exceeded our expectations,” Apple’s chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said. “But as the summer went on, the rumours were pretty rampant about the iPhone and iPad [mini].”

Beyond its two most important products, Apple posted a one per cent rise in sales of its desktops and laptops. This bucked falling Windows PC sales, which have slumped eight per cent year-on-year in the quarter, according to research from Gartner.