The biggest company in America is still growing fast

Year-on-year profits at Apple nearly double.

An Apple store in San Francisco
An Apple store in San Francisco. Photograph: Getty Images

Apple released its quarterly results yesterday evening, showing that the company is maintaining phenomenal growth even as the largest corporation in the world.

Net profits are up 94 per cent year-on-year, from $6bn to $11.6bn, and revenues have gone from $24.7bn to $39.2bn in the same period.

All but one of the company's major product lines have seen increases in units sold, with the iPad and iPhone by far in the lead. The former sold just under 12 million units in the last quarter, a 151 per cent increase year-on-year, and the latter sold 35 million, an 88 per cent increase. Mac sales were up by 7 per cent to 4 million, while the iPod continued its decline, losing 15 per cent of sales over the last year dropping to 7 million sold.

Broken down geographically, the companies major growth areas are Asia/Pacific and Japan, which saw, respectively, 114 per cent and 91 per cent revenue growth year on year. European revenue grew by 46 per cent, and American revenue grew by 41 per cent. The US remains the most important single market for Apple, though, with 36 per cent of total sales originating domestically.

The most important number in the results was the iPad figures, which were strong, but less than some had hoped. The release late in the quarter of the new iPad may have led to a minor Osborne effect, as customers held off buying an iPad 2 in anticipation of the upgrade. This, combined with the inevitable supply problems which mean that lead times on an order are still hovering around the two weeks mark, could have led to many sales being "deferred" to the second quarter of 2012.

That said, those who hoped for more may have just been greedy. The iPad numbers remain astounding, especially when placed into context by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who revealed in an earnings call that:

Just two years after we shipped the initial iPad, we sold 67 million. It took us 24 years to sell that many Macs, and five years for that many iPods, and over three years for that many iPhones.

The potential size of the tablet and smartphone markets are the two perennial objections to those concerned that Apple has "peaked". The fear is that a company the size of Apple cannot maintain the sort of growth more suited to a start-up; that at some point, things will taper off, and they will go to being a conventional, Microsoft-style tech giant. But as Cook has pointed out, the tablet market has every potential to be as big as (or, more specifically, to become) the PC market; and Apple is (near as makes no difference) the only player in the tablet market. If they achieve their ambitions, there's a lot of growth left in the sector yet.

Interesting results also from the breakdown of Mac sales. Desktop sales increased by 19 per cent year on year, while portable sales were up by just 2 per cent. Although the latter category still far outweighs the former, this is the strongest showing for desktop computers, previously thought to be going the way of the iPod. 2.35 laptops were sold for every desktop, down from 2.7 laptops per desktop this quarter last year. The difference may be due to a lack of laptop upgrades in the quarter gone, or a potential cannabalisation of laptop sales by iPads.