Fast Company

Apple's Earnings By The (Holy S*%#!) Numbers

Over $13 billion in profits. A hop-skip-and-a-jump shy of 50% profit margins. $4 billion in pay-outs to app developers. Revenues up 73%. 37 million iPhones sold. One new CEO and an armload of competitive and legal threats easily waved away... That's a précis of Apple's earnings reported late yesterday. But these huge numbers don't exactly leap off the page do they? Let's leap aboard the breathlessly-blown-away-by-Apple bus (which we've admittedly bought a ticket for ourselves) and look at how people are trying to illustrate these figures with some meaningful context.

  • Apple earned more in profits than it was worth in terms of market capitalization just eight years ago. Impressive. If you had a time machine to really get to grips with the context of this idea
  • "Apple nears incredible milestone, coming just shy of $100 billion in cash on hand. Hoard is worth more than all but 52 companies on Earth." So everyone else owning a company, in hundreds of nations, should just give up, eh? And are many of those 52 tech firms, or is it all old-school manufacturing or oil industry? That would be more illuminating.
  • Apple sold more iPhones per day than babies were born. That's pretty impressive, and means Junior should line up for his iPhone right now! Until you remember that maybe Lego sold more than that, or that the number of toilet rolls sold each day could reach the moon and back (or other equally odd comparisons)
  • "Apple now worth more than projected Singapore economy (318 billion) in 2016." Okay, which means it beats Singapore's economy already...Unless the small nation's economy is in some kind of decline? Which is clearly not the case.
  • "$AAPL's cash is worth 2,000 tons of gold. (please forgive me @Morgan_03)" Call in Scrooge McDuck--we're ready for some cash pile diving! But since a ton of gold is a cube just over 14 inches on a side, it wouldn't really be that big a pile.
  • Apple's profits are also about 30% bigger for the last quarter than Google's entire revenue.

You can play with numbers til the cows come home--it's a job that many people behind the scenes in the current Presidential race do, for what you could imagine is a lot of money. By massaging the figures, trying to illustrate them in clever ways, or just playing silly buggers with how you say things like "200%" growth (meaning the figure is actually three times bigger than the one you're comparing to--a way of presenting this stat that confuses many writers, readers and others) numbers can look like anything you want.

Let's cut through this and sum it up. Apple's numbers are crazy. Crazy to the point they make some people crazy.

[Image: Flickr user Photo Giddy]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.