Bouncing a ball against a wall is fun. Doing it a hundred times is still fun. But bouncing the same ball against the same wall for years on end can get a little repetitive.
Finding creative ways to dress up the words “Apple,” “record” and “profits” is like bouncing that ball. For a long time the ball had Steve Jobs’ face on it. When Tim Cook’s appeared in its place, people dared to think the ball might pop, or at least fly off in an unexpected direction. Maybe we’d get to add a “falls” or “drops” or “tumbles” or “plummets” into the mix. This week’s results put paid to that. Apple record profits. Bounce bounce bounce.
It regained its position as the world's most valuable company after reporting profits of $13.1bn (£8.38bn) in the last quarter – more than double the same period last year. It beat Wall Street estimates by 30 per cent. It shifted 37m iPhones in the last quarter alone – one for every adult in the UK.
Its margins are insane. Its quarterly profits came from sales of just (albeit very loose definition of the word “just”) $46.3bn. To put this in context, ExxonMobil’s $10.3bn third quarter profits came from sales of $125.3bn.
Samsung may be vying with Apple for smartphone dominance but the market is growing to accommodate both of them, rather than squeezing either. While the UK and the US are coming close to maturity (more than half of UK adults own a smartphone, only slightly more than their American cousins), fast-growing markets like China are falling over themselves to get hold of iPhones. Literally – police had to cordon off the Beijing Apple store over safety fears, prompting enraged fanboys to hurl eggs at it.
Its tablet business is even more astonishing. In the last quarter Apple sold more iPads than HP sold PCs.
This year we’re going to see new versions of the iPhone and iPad (see below), inevitably fuelling another surge in sales. Apple has barely dipped its toe in the TV market but it has still cast a shadow over the entire industry, with rumours of a stand-alone set flying after comments in Steve Jobs autobiography. If it can do to the (somewhat stagnant) TV market what it has done with phones and tablets, we could be about to see something pretty special.
It looks like that ball is going to keep bouncing for some time. My arm hurts.