Apple ripe despite downturn

Apple has announced its best-ever quarter. Microsoft must be sick to the core.

Last Updated: 10 Sep 2010

Strong sales of the iPhone and Macintosh have helped the painfully trendy tech giant achieve record net profits - $1.67bn for the three months to the end of September. That's up an incredible 47% on same time last year

The company managed to sell a whopping 7.4m iPhones during the quarter, proving that not even a global economic downturn will come between Apple fans and their need to have a handheld device that can simultaneously send them swine flu alerts and simulate fart sounds.

Indeed, its rivals in the handset stakes will be marvelling at how Apple does it. Not so long ago the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson were sitting snug at the top of the mobile tree - now they're stuck between the low-end and Apple's high-end and they're struggling. Sony Ericsson for one went from an annual growth rate of 10%, to a 10% decline as the recession bit.

Apple has positioned itself much more strongly, and seems to be having no such trouble. While the majority can't justify splashing out a few hundred quid on updating kit, members of the cult of Jobs are premium customers who still have disposable cash, and even in tougher economic times they're still more than happy to blow it on the right gadget. This despite a rising backlash against the knowing snobbery of it all.

Of course it's not just the phones. Apple also shifted 3.1m Macs - 17% up from a year ago -  taking revenue up 25% to $9.87bn. Sales were helped by the launch of the menacing-sounding Snow Leopard operating system. How rare it is that a new ridiculously-named OS actually helps a company's fortunes? 
Indeed, over at Microsoft they may well be hoping for similar news - it's launching the new Windows 7 platform this week. In the face of Apple's performance that must now feel about as appealing as trying to fight a snow leopard with a Granny Smith.

But it's not boding too badly so far. Figures released by Amazon in the UK showed that pre-orders of Windows 7 in the first eight hours of its availability beat demand for Windows Vista in its first four months. Of course, that may just mean Vista was so poor that the people who bought it are now clamouring for a way out.

Elsewhere Microsoft is going after Google via its Bing search engine partnership with Yahoo. That may seem doomed to fail. But if Microsoft's disastrously cheesy Windows 7 launch party promo video is anything to go by, it's better off trying anything than battling Apple at geek-chic.

In today's bulletin:

Qatari's quick buck on Barclays, Diamond stays put
Apple ripe despite downturn
Greggs plans expansion on back of sales growth
Employers still discriminate on racial grounds, says DWP
Promotion from within increases confidence in bosses


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