Apple announced stellar quarterly results yesterday that exceeded Wall Street estimates and were rewarded by the market with a price jump that lead to a market cap that now exceeds that of IBM. However, a key point is that Apple’s gains are squarely in areas of Microsoft strength or Microsoft aspirations. From the earnings press release:
Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2007 fourth quarter ended September 29, 2007. The Company posted revenue of $6.22 billion and net quarterly profit of $904 million, or $1.01 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $4.84 billion and net quarterly profit of $542 million, or $.62 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.
Apple shipped 2,164,000 Macintosh computers, representing 34 percent growth over the year-ago quarter and exceeding the previous quarterly record for Mac shipments by 400,000. The Company sold 10,200,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 17 percent growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone sales were 1,119,000, bringing cumulative fiscal 2007 sales to 1,389,000.
The Macintosh sales gains were in the teeth of Microsoft’s half billion dollar promotion of their latest and greatest operating system, Windows Vista. While Apple is still a distant number 3 in US PC sales and no one expects that the Microsoft quarterly results this Thursday will show anything but an uninterrupted stream of cash coming from Vista, Apple’s ability to steal market share from the best Microsoft has to offer indicates the unsteady grasp that Microsoft has on the helm of the PC market.
The iPhone is another illustration of Apple’s ability to succeed in the face of entrenched competitors including Microsoft:
Apple has said previously that it expects to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. Some analysts believe the company will easily surpass that figure. Charles Wolf, an independent market analyst who publishes the Wolf Bytes newsletter, said he expects the company to hit 14 million phones in its first year and a half.
By contrast, Microsoft has said that it expects its phone-making partners to ship 20 million Windows Mobile phones next year.
As for the iPod, Apple dominates the personal media player market which is maturing and commoditizing, but Apple still managed double digit unit growth with Microsoft’s Zune (and everybody else) continuing to eat their dust.
Does any of this mean “Game Over” for Microsoft? Of course not, but it does make you wonder, “What if Microsoft wasn’t a screwup?“