Apple's due to reveal all in its second-quarter call tonight at 5 p.m. EDT. The statistics will be telling, since they encompass the Verizon iPhone and the iPad 2's early sales. Here's what to look for:
Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, and still it's quite definitely growing. With the upcoming Nasdaq re-position of the importance of Apple in its top 100 index, the exact revenues and profit figures Apple reports today will be of great interest to investors around the globe.
Analysts expect to see revenues around $23.3 billion, up nearly 73% year over year, and per-share earnings of around $5.36, up from $3.33 last year. That's a high expectation of growth--can Apple live up to it?
Apple's flagship product at the moment is the iPhone. The fourth revision of the device is now on sale internationally, and a CDMA version for Verizon hit the U.S. earlier this year, ending AT&T's local monopoly. Apple may break out the iPhone revenues in the call or during questions later, but we already know AT&T activated some 3.6 million units in the last quarter, up a million from last year. As part of its recent lawsuit against Samsung, Apple revealed it had sold 108 million iPhones to date, one of the rare times such a precise figure has been revealed. Will Apple's official figures also reveal millions more in Verizon sales?
These statistics set the scene for the entire smartphone industry, and Apple's future plans: We suspect the iPhone 5 won't arrive until later in the year than previous revisions, which may leave room for the long-rumored cheaper iPhone Lite to arrive before summer, potentially capturing the lower end of the market and rivalling cheaper Android units.
Also as part of its lawsuit against alleged cloner Samsung, Apple showed that it had sold 19 million iPads to the date of the suit's filing. The iPad 2 is fresh on the scene, and unlike the iPad 1's slow global rollout as Apple fought to acquire supplies, the new tablet went on sale in nearly 30 nations all at once. Demand is still high for the product, and people are still camping on the streets in New York to buy iPads as the re-stock hits the shelves.
With the iPad now predicted by many to dominate the tablet PC scene for years, and the industry itself expected to quickly ramp up to a $49 billion-a-year industry, Apple's performance in the tablet market is vital to predicting its future fortunes. For that reason alone, Apple may try to hide the iPad sales figures.
While Apple has tried to focus on its mobile tech in recent years, this year it's underlining that its traditional computing market is still of vital importance, and its upcoming WWDC developers event is tightly aimed at the OS X Lion refresh for desktop and portable Macs. This is good business sense, because the Mac's market share has been climbing steadily of late, led by a surprise runaway success of the new, small, SSD-equipped, paradigm-shifting MacBook Airs.
If Apple breaks out data on its Mac sales, the figures will give an important insight into the current condition and potential future of its core computing business.
Apple TV sales
Apple is shy about its Apple TV device, repeatedly labeling it as merely a "hobby project" despite its revolutionary make-over into an iOS device last year. Now, amid swirling rumors Apple is planning on selling an actual Net-connected television, there's some data that Apple's sold 2 million second-generation Apple TVs since it debuted in October 2010, with more than 850,000 sold in the last quarter. Is it time for Apple to be less coy about its oft-overlooked iDevice?
"Insurance" pre-buys of supplies for tablets, iPhones
For months there've been rumors that Apple spent significant amounts (billions) of its cash reserves this year ensuring supply of key display components for its top-selling devices by pre-buying supplies from its Asian supply chain. In the wake of the Japanese earthquake disaster, which has constrained some high-tech supplies, this may have been a shrewd move. Expect analysts to pore over Apple's figures to try to spot this investment.
Data center spends
Will Apple reveal infrastructure spends relating to its huge (expanding, yet so far largely unused) data center in North Carolina? These could give clues for future cloud-based services offered under the MobileMe and iTunes banners--potentially key technologies for Apple in the coming years.
Since Steve Jobs is formally on extended medical leave from Apple, whether he takes part in the earnings call could be seen as an important indicator for the company's future. Will caretaker CEO Tim Cook have all the limelight, or will Apple hint at a different successor by placing a different exec in the hot seat?
[Image via Flickr user energetic spirit]