Show Hide image

The biggest company in America is still growing fast

Year-on-year profits at Apple nearly double.

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.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

When will the government take action to tackle the plight of circus animals?

Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world - and innocent animals are paying the price. 

It has been more than a year since the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to passing legislation to impose a ban on the suffering of circus animals in England and Wales. How long does it take to get something done in Parliament?

I was an MP for more than two decades, so that’s a rhetorical question. I’m well aware that important issues like this one can drag on, but the continued lack of action to help stop the suffering of animals in circuses is indefensible.

Although the vast majority of the British public doesn’t want wild animals used in circuses (a public consultation on the issue found that more than 94 per cent of the public wanted to see a ban implemented and the Prime Minister promised to prohibit the practice by January 2015, no government bill on this issue was introduced during the last parliament.

A private member’s bill, introduced in 2013, was repeatedly blocked in the House of Commons by three MPs, so it needs a government bill to be laid if we are to have any hope of seeing this practice banned.

This colossal waste of time shames Britain, while all around the world, governments have been taking decisive action to stop the abuse of wild animals in circuses. Just last month, Catalonia’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ban it. While our own lawmakers dragged their feet, the Netherlands approved a ban that comes into effect later this year, as did Malta and Mexico. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North America’s longest-running circus, has pledged to retire all the elephants it uses by 2018. Even in Iran, a country with precious few animal-welfare laws, 14 states have banned this archaic form of entertainment. Are we really lagging behind Iran?

The writing has long been on the wall. Only two English circuses are still clinging to this antiquated tradition of using wild animals, so implementing a ban would have very little bearing on businesses operating in England and Wales. But it would have a very positive impact on the animals still being exploited.

Every day that this legislation is delayed is another one of misery for the large wild animals, including tigers, being hauled around the country in circus wagons. Existing in cramped cages and denied everything that gives their lives meaning, animals become lethargic and depressed. Their spirits broken, many develop neurotic and abnormal behaviour, such as biting the bars of their cages and constantly pacing. It’s little wonder that such tormented creatures die far short of their natural life spans.

Watching a tiger jump through a fiery hoop may be entertaining to some, but we should all be aware of what it entails for the animal. UK laws require that animals be provided with a good quality of life, but the cruelty inherent in confining big, wild animals, who would roam miles in the wild, to small, cramped spaces and forcing them to engage in unnatural and confusing spectacles makes that impossible in circuses.

Those who agree with me can join PETA’s campaign to urge government to listen to the public and give such animals a chance to live as nature intended.


The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe was an MP for 23 years and served as Shadow Home Secretary. She is a novelist, documentary maker and newspaper columnist.