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Apple announces Q3 2011 earnings: $7.31b profit on $28.57b revenue, iPhone, iPad sales way up (update: audio!)

Apple announces Q3 2011 earnings: $7.31b profit on $28.57b revenue, iPhone, iPad sales way up (update: audio!)

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CEO succession controversy or not, Apple just announced its Q3 2011 results, and they're as solid as expected: Cupertino posted yet another record quarter, with a 125 percent jump in profits to $7.31b on an 82 percent increase in revenue to $28.57b. iPhone sales were up 142 percent over last year with 20.34m sold, and the iPad 2 was a rousing success as well, with sales up 183 percent to 9.25m sold. (That's double the iPads sold last quarter, for comparison.) Apple also sold 3.95m Macs, up 14 percent from last year, and the iPod decline continued apace with 7.54m representing a 20 percent decrease.

As usual, we'll be on the company's analyst call at 5PM ET -- we'll post the audio and break out any notable quotes right after it happens.

Update: Here's the full call with COO / acting CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer -- check after the break for a breakdown of clips and commentary.

Mac subscription accounting

This is pretty dry, but the financial nerds will want to make a note: Apple's deferring revenue to account for OS X updates, iLife updates, and iCloud updates. The company will defer $22 per Mac sold over four years to account for these updates and services. Apple's already deferring some iOS revenue for updates, but now it'll also defer an additional $16 per iPhone and iPad device sold over two years to account for iCloud, and and extra $11 for the iPod touch over two years. Wonky, but now you know how much of that purchase price is going towards services.

"Future product transition"

This one's interesting -- when asked why Apple's guidance for next quarter is lower than usual, Peter Oppenheimer said it's because Apple has a lot planned for the fall, including an unspecified "future product transition." Of course, there are rampant rumors of new iPhones and possibly that iPad HD in the fall, along with the traditional iPod refresh, so that fits right in -- and changing out so many big-ticket items at once would certainly shift the bottom line. Of course, Oppenheimer and Cook refused to elaborate further, but you can feel free to speculate at will.

iPad cannibalizing Windows

As usual, Cook says Apple expects the iPad to cannibalize some Mac sales, but that it's cannibalizing a lot more Windows PC sales, and Apple's totally okay with that.


Of course, Cook was asked about Apple's various patent lawsuits, and he gave his usual answer, saying that Apple doesn't mind competing, but that other companies have to invent their own stuff. A half-answer, to be sure, but it shut down any further questions from the analysts.

Android activations

Cook was asked to comment on the 550,000 Android activations happening per day, and he basically punted, saying that Apple doesn't know how to interpret those numbers, and that Apple's impressive iOS device numbers are much more transparent and easier to understand.

Apple TV

As usual, Cook reiterated that the Apple TV is just a hobby, and that while Apple thinks it got the ATV 2 right, it's still not a business the size of the iPhone or iPad. Interestingly, he used the past tense when referring to the size of the iPod market here -- Apple definitely knows the iPod is fading fast, as evidenced by the 20 percent decline in sales.

Apple's supplier management "magic"

Cook didn't really answer the question when asked if Apple's worried about relying too much on single suppliers as it grows, but he did say that Apple's management of the supply chain was "part of the magic."

Prepaid phones

There were a number of questions about prepaid phones and developing markets, since that's where a lot of iPhone growth came this quarter, and Cook didn't shy away from them -- he said that Apple prefers the standard postpaid model since it's better for customers, carriers, and Apple, but that the company knows it has to offer prepaid phones in order to hit the sales volumes it's after.

Apple's philosophy

When asked if Apple had to cut prices in order to increase sales, Cook offered a variation on a theme: Apple only makes products its people would want to own, and it doesn't go after the lower price. In fact, Cook thinks it's Apple's job to convince people to spend a little more on significantly better products, and he points to China as an example of where that strategy has been a success.

All in all, it wasn't the most rousing call, compared to last month's -- Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer definitely seemed subdued, possibly because that Wall Street Journal piece broke just 30 minutes before the earnings were released. Still, things definitely seem to be on track at Apple -- we'll see if the company can maintain this momentum headed into next quarter.