Apple Reports Record iPhone Sales


SAN FRANCISCO - Apple's iPhone is still defying a long-held rule of the cellphone business: What goes up must come down.


The defiance of that rule was never more clear than on Monday, when Apple reported sales of 51 million iPhones during the last quarter, the most it has sold in any quarter, up from 47.8 million in the same period last year.


The strong sales helped Apple turn in a profit of $13.1 billion on revenue of $57.6 billion.


'We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,' Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said in a statement. 'We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.'


Since it was introduced seven years ago, the iPhone has maintained an upward trajectory that has knocked off former phone giants and batted away some newcomers. BlackBerry, Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and Nokia enjoyed stints near the top of the phone market before plummeting. Now, even phone sales by Samsung - the latest powerful Apple challenger - are beginning to slow.



Apple saved its biggest moves in 2013 for the end of the year, which surely helped sales in the quarter. For the first time, the company introduced two new iPhone models instead of one. It also released two new iPads and added NTT Docomo, the largest cellphone carrier in Japan, as a partner.


Analysts view the holiday shopping season as an important metric in determining whether Apple is experiencing healthy growth or if it has plateaued. On average, they had estimated that Apple would sell about 55 million iPhones and bring in overall revenue of $57.46 billion.


Apple also said it sold 26 million iPads, up from 22.9 million last year. It sold 4.8 million Mac computers, up from 4.1 million last year.


For years, Samsung Electronics, the No. 1 phone maker, has been a formidable competitor. At one point in 2012, Samsung's older flagship phone, the Galaxy S III, surpassed the iPhone in sales.


But the strength of Galaxy phones is fading. Despite the marketing blitz that Samsung put behind its flagship smartphones - the Galaxy S4 and the Note 3 - sales were weaker than expected over the holiday season.


The iPhone's steadfast growth has been driven more by sustained consumer enthusiasm than by marketing. Apple spends substantially less money on marketing its phones than Samsung.


What remains an open question is whether Apple's second new iPhone - the colorful plastic iPhone 5C - has gained any steam. There have been many signs that Apple's more-expensive phone, the iPhone 5S, has outsold the iPhone 5C in large numbers.


But over all, iPhone sales appear poised to grow. Earlier this month, Apple finally began selling iPhones through China Mobile, the biggest carrier in China. Analysts estimate that the partnership could add from 15 million to 30 million more iPhone sales this year.


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