Apple Records Strong Quarter, Then Overhauls Mac Lineup

On Monday, Apple announced blockbuster financial results for the most recent quarter, proving that—once again—the company appears to be immune to the economic woes that are dogging the rest of the industry. Then, the next day, it updated almost its entire Mac product line, although the company, in typical form, refused to lower prices.

Apple announced that it earned $1.67 billion on revenues of $9.87 billion for the quarter ending in September. The company sold more than 3 million Macs in the quarter, enough for 3.86 percent market share worldwide, and about 9 percent in the United States. The biggest gain, perhaps, was with the company's best-selling iPhone, which racked up 7.4 million unit sales in the quarter, up 7 percent year over year. The iPod was down 8 percent, however, with sales of 10.2 million units.

A day later, Apple wiped out almost its entire stable of Macs and replaced them with new models. The flagship iMac line was overhauled with two new 21.5" and 27" 16:9 widescreen displays, with prices ranging from $1,200 (about three times the average price of a PC) to over $2,000 (about the average price of a used car). Even in the all-in-one category, the iMac is expensive: HP sells a 20" all-in-one PC with multi-touch features the iMac lacks for just $900.

The low-end Mac mini line, which hasn't seen a form factor update in—well, ever—soldiers on with slightly faster processors and similarly high $600-to-$1,000 pricing. Curiously, Apple is now selling a Mac mini server of sorts, as well, though the lack of two networking ports limits its appeal and speaks volumes about Apple's inability to grasp this market.

On the notebook side, the previous-generation MacBook that Apple still sells to keep a foot in the bargain bin (a strategy it also sneakily employs with the iPod touch) was updated with more RAM and hard drive capacity. But the big change in the $1,000 device was the addition of a sealed, non-removable battery, just like the even more expensive MacBook Pros.

Apple also introduced a new multi-touch mouse, the Magic Mouse, which provides support for swiping gestures and multi-finger presses. It appears to work only with Macs and won't ship until November. But the Magic Mouse might just be the most compelling product Apple ships this year. I'm curious to see how well it works.

Rounding out the updates, Apple also shipped new versions of its AirPort wireless networking hardware, Time Capsule network storage devices, and—why not?—the tiny Apple Remote, which can remotely control a Mac or iPod with dock.

TAGS: Windows 8
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