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Apple pays tribute to Steve Jobs with record profits

Despite not quite hitting analysts' targets and experiencing a blip in iPhone sales, the September quarter was an extremely profitable time for the company.

New Apple CEO Tim Cook paid poignant tribute to Steve Jobs at the company's Q4 earnings conference call this week, saying, "The world has lost a visionary and amazing human being. Steve inspired everyone at Apple to do extraordinary things," our sister site CNET News reports.

He was joined by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer to deliver some extraordinary stats outlining how much was raked in from the squillions of devices sold up until the financial quarter's close on 24 September. The figure? Lots -- $28.27bn in revenue (compared to $20.34bn a year ago) and a net profit of $6.62bn (up from $4.31bn a year ago) -- both records for the company.

"We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of $5.4bn during the quarter," said a smug Oppenheimer. In basic terms, that's leftover money that can be invested after all other business costs have been paid. Alternatively, Apple could add it to the reported $80bn pile it already has and put it toward a shiny new mothership-themed HQ.

The question is -- which products proved catnip for consumers?

The company sold 4.89 million Macs during the quarter, a 26 per cent unit increase over the same quarter a year ago. This figure will no doubt have been bolstered by a combination of OS X Lion, which appeared in July, and the release of two delicious new MacBook Air models. Jobs' claim earlier this month that one in four computers sold in the US is a Mac is growing more believable by the day.

The release of the iPad 2 contributed handsomely to 11.12 million iPads (both 1 and 2) being sold in the quarter, a whopping 166 per cent unit increase over sales of the original iPad this time last year.

"We thought from the beginning of this [that tablets] would be a huge market," Cook said during the analyst call. "And it has been even greater than we thought, and we've now sold 40 million [iPads] on a cumulative basis, and it's pretty clear to me that if you forecast out in time, the tablet market... will be larger than the PC market.

"That's not a guidance number; that's just something I very much believe. There will be many, many more people who can access it, and the ease of use is so phenomenal and off-the-charts that I believe it's a huge opportunity for Apple across time."

The iPhone holds the title of being the device with the most overall unit sales. A total of 17.07 million sales were recorded for the quarter -- more than the same quarter last year but slightly less than the previous quarter this year -- most likely due to consumers holding out for what they believed would be an all-new iPhone 5, which eventually turned out to be the iPhone 4S.

Sales of the latest phone don't count toward the fourth quarter's figures, so it's likely that iPhone sales figures will be much more glamorous next year. Unsurprisingly, Cook didn't seem too concerned.

"In our wildest dreams, we couldn't have gotten off to a better start than we have with the 4S," he said. "We've sold over 4 million in just three days. We're thrilled with the start that we've had. We're confident we'll have a large supply, but I don't want to predict when supply and demand will balance, because demand is obviously extremely high right now. I'm confident we'll set an all-time record for iPhone this quarter."

As for iPods, well, 6.62 million of those were sold, a 27 per cent decline from a year ago. That's still a lot of children wearing digital Mickey Mouse watches.

Image credit: Jonathan Mak Long