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Apple reports another tiresome record-breaking quarter

Our increased reliance on our phones and online services during the pandemic is showing up clearly in Apple’s profits.

Apple reports another tiresome record-breaking quarter
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Everybody’s favorite tech company reported another killer quarter fueled by strong sales of online services and new iPhones and Macs.

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The quarter, which covered October through December and the holiday shopping season, is typically strong for Apple, but this year was a record breaker. Apple pulled in $111.44 billion in revenue—a 21% increase from a year ago—and a profit of $28.76 billion. Sixty-four percent of the revenue came from sales outside the United States, the company said.

The iPhone provided the main thrust for Apple’s record sales. Last October, Apple announced four new iPhones, all of which support the new 5G wireless standard, and those phones went on sale before the holiday shopping season. Apple doesn’t break out unit sales by model, but by all indications, the new iPhone 12 line sold well. Apple sold $65.6 billion worth of iPhones during the holidays. Analysts had expected only around $60 billion in quarterly sales.

The company also announced before the holiday three new Macs—a MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a Mac Mini—powered by Apple’s own home-baked M1 processor. Apple reported Mac sales of $8.7 billion, a considerable improvement over the $7.2 billion it made on Mac sales in the same quarter of the previous year. The Mac sales number was in line with analyst expectations.

The iPad also had a big quarter, logging $8.4 billion in sales, compared to just $6 billion in sales in the holiday quarter of 2019.

Apple has been a big beneficiary of the pandemic. With people trapped at home, they’ve been more dependent on online services such as Apple’s subscription music and video, and more are glued to their smartphones as they socialize and order goods and services online. Accordingly, Apple reported a big year-over-year jump in its services business, from sales of $12.7 billion in the year-earlier quarter to sales of $15.8 billion in the 2020 holiday quarter.

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“Our December quarter business performance was fueled by double-digit growth in each product category,” said Apple CFO Luca Maestri in a statement, “which drove all-time revenue records in each of our geographic segments and an all-time high for our installed base of active devices.”

About the author

Fast Company Senior Writer Mark Sullivan covers emerging technology, politics, artificial intelligence, large tech companies, and misinformation. An award-winning San Francisco-based journalist, Sullivan's work has appeared in Wired, Al Jazeera, CNN, ABC News, CNET, and many others.

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