With last week’s news that Apple achieved the biggest quarterly profit that any company anywhere in the world has ever made – a staggering $18bn (£11.9bn) – it’s worth pondering how they did it.
It’s taken the company’s cash mountain to a surreal $178bn (£117bn). That’s bigger than the GDP of Finland or Hong Kong, and it would allow Apple to but Lithuania three times over.
It seems that the spectacular success of the new iPhone – and a lucrative deal with China Mobile in Greater China – had much to do with the firm’s jaw-dropping results.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, revealed that the company had sold a “phenomenal” 74.5 million iPhones during the last quarter alone (that’s 34,000 every hour, every day), adding in somewhat understated terms that the “volume is hard to comprehend.”
The fact that the new iPhone 6 Plus has a deliciously large screen for viewing digital content (something that Android users have been used to for years but Apple users had to wait until last year for) has worked its magic, attracting the most notoriously difficult-to-shift customers of all – loyalists of other platforms line Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Last quarter saw the biggest proportion of first-time Apple consumers since the phone was originally launched in 2007.
Breaking the Chinese market also pushed things along swimmingly: Apple began selling iPhones there in December through China Mobile, which has a brain-boggling 700 million customers to its name. iPhone sales rose by 70 per cent as a result.
Something else that’s almost certainly played a part in attracting new iPhone buyers has been Apple’s new willingness to give customers more control over their devices. To be frank, it had acquired a reputation for being a little anal over this issue (just think of the walled garden of the app store). But not only do customers now have a choice over screen size – a sign that Apple has taken heed of consumer preferences – but you can now, at last, add widgets to the home screen and customise the keyboards.
Then of course, there’s that slobberingly gorgeous, rapid-fire, high-res camera, which has been dubbed the best camera of any smartphone by DxO labs.
Apple got a lot right. And it has plenty of potential to post even greater profits if it goes on attracting Android users.