Technology giant Apple posted solid sales and revenue figures of US$43.6bn and US$9.5bn, respectively, but has raised questions about future growth plans as sales levels of iPhone devices appear flat and new product announcements may not be expected until later in the year.
Years of never-ending good news inevitably invite a backlash and new questions have arisen over Apple’s innovation pipeline at the close of a quarter of solid product sales but no new product announcements, per se.
Apple is in rude financial health, but signals that new products are unlikely to emerge until later in the year might just be raising hackles on Wall Street.
Amazing new hardware and software on the way?
Either way, the company had every right to sound content.
“We are pleased to report record March quarter revenue, thanks to continued strong performance of iPhone and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
“Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”
Knowing Apple, something big may indeed be in the offing but until the facts are established the questioning will no doubt grate on the nerves of Apple staff and long-time ardent supporters.
Apple sold 37.4m iPhones in the quarter, compared to 35.1m this time last year, a marginal increase.
Significantly, Apple sold 19.5m iPads during the quarter, compared to 11.8m a year ago – good news if Android tablet sales are in danger of surpassing Apple on the tablet front.
However, Mac sales were flat and declining, with just fewer than 4m Macs, compared to 4m last year.
No mention was made of iPod media players, which had been steadily declining in sales in recent years.
What comes next for Apple?
But let’s not forget, Apple was the company that made the present smartphone and tablet computing revolutions a reality in the first place and God knows what it is working on next: much-anticipated products, like an Apple television, or just more of the same?
The company is still the wealthiest of tech organisations globally, with US$12.5bn in cash flow from operations and a cash balance of US$145bn, as CFO Peter Oppenheimer pointed out.
While vultures seize on the stray bits of meat out there in the ether in terms of conjecture about products, there is no doubt Apple is financially in a commanding position in the tech industry.
No doubt, the next few months and financial quarters will be remembered either as the time when a tech industry trendsetter lost its mojo and momentum, or once again redefined and revolutionised our understanding and perception of where computing is headed next.
Either way, it would be foolish to write off Apple or its leaders at this stage.