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Apple Reports Biggest Quarterly Profit in Its History

The Cupertino-based company sold a record 74.5 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, surpassing the company's holiday quarter sales record set last year of 51 million iPhones.

Illustration by Vjeran Pavic

Apple reported a profit of $18 billion for its holiday quarter — a record for the technology giant — thanks to robust global sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that helped it shatter Wall Street’s expectations.

The Cupertino-based company sold a record 74.5 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, blowing past last year’s holiday quarter sales record of 51 million iPhones. The iPhone has become the company’s cash cow, generating nearly 70 percent of its revenue.

For perspective, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple sold an average of 34,000 iPhones every hour of every day in the quarter. In fact, it has surpassed 1 billion devices powered by the iOS mobile operating system in the quarter — a number which also includes iPad tablets as well as smartphones.

“One billion devices is an almost unfathomable milestone,” Cook said in a call Tuesday with analysts. “And we are all incredibly proud to be part of it.”

Cook told investors he remains “incredibly bullish” about future sales iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, noting that the device is attracting customers who have never before owned a smartphone as well as those switching from rival Android devices. Only a fraction of existing iPhone owners have upgrade to the larger-screen device.

“We saw more new customers to iPhone than we’d ever seen before. … And we had a higher rate of Android switchers than we had in the three previous launches,” Cook said. “Between the switchers, the people that are just new to smartphones and selected an iPhone, and our upgrades …We feel really great with what’s in front of us.”

Indeed, Apple’s smartphone has given fresh meaning to the “Huge” television ad campaign, featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, that launched the iPhone 6/6 Plus last fall.

Apple posted a record profit of $3.06 a share on record revenue of $74.6 billion for the quarter ending Dec. 27. That exceeded analyst predictions that Apple would report earnings of $2.60 a share on revenue of $67.5 billion in its fiscal first quarter of 2015.

It expects revenue of $52 billion to $55 billion in the March quarter.

The company also sold 21.4 million iPads during the quarter, down 18 percent from a year ago when Apple sold a record 26 million of the devices. Consumers bought 5.5 million Macs over the holidays, compared with 4.8 million Macs a year ago.

Apple said it saw record revenue from sales of iPhones and Macs, as well as a record performance from then App Store.

Apple saw a sharp spike in sales in China, where it reported revenue of $16.1 billion for the quarter — a 70 percent jump over the same period a year earlier.

“I was in China right after the launch in October, and the excitement around the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were absolutely phenomenal,” Cook said.

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