5 takeaways from Apple’s latest Mac-tastic quarter

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Mac FTW! Apple earnings Q2 2021: Sales of new M1 Macs powered Apple to yet another record-smashing quarter.
Sales of new M1 Macs powered Apple to yet another record-smashing quarter.
Photo: Wes Hicks/Unsplash CC

Apple did it again. It just announced a quarter where it didn’t just beat everyone’s expectations, it blew them away. The Mac had a phenomenal quarter, and so did iPhone and iPad.

But you don’t have to bury yourself in spreadsheets to get the lowdown on what it all means. Just read on.

1. Mac revenue broke records

Apple pulled in more revenue from selling Macs last quarter than it ever has before. Not just the most revenue it’s ever made in a January-through-March quarter. The most revenue ever. There’s been no back-to-school rush or holiday shopping season that resulted in $9.1 billion in Mac sales. And that’s an amazing increase of 70% compared to the same quarter last year.

Plus, keep in mind that this happened during the March quarter, which is often one of Apple’s slowest. So it’s extra amazing.

Lay much of that stellar increase on the Apple M1 processor. Apple released two MacBooks and an iMac mini running this blazing-fast chip near the end of 2020, and people clearly snapped them up.

And the COVID-19 pandemic played a big role too. Mac sales have been up since spring of 2020. But not so much as they were last quarter.

But don’t get the idea that the Mac was an outlier. iPhone revenue grew 65% and iPad revenue expanded 79%. Apple’s total revenue increased 54%. — By Ed Hardy

2. iPhone 12 satisfaction rate is through the roof.

During a conference call with investors after announcing these quarterly results, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri threw out this tidbit: “In the U.S., the latest survey of consumers from 451 Research indicates customer satisfaction of over 99% for the iPhone 12 family.”

99% satisfaction. Wow.

This is helping to drive the enormous sales of iPhones. Apple doesn’t reveal the number of units sold but revenue was $47.9 billion, up from $29 billion last year.

And other products aren’t doing too bad. 451 Research says U.S. customer satisfaction with Mac is at 91%, and it’s at 94% for iPad. — By Ed Hardy

3. Apple services look unstoppable

CEO Tim Cook’s decision to lean on services for growth continues to look incredibly smart. Apple’s growing range of subscription services — from old-timers like iCloud and Apple Music to newer offerings like Apple TV+ and Apple Fitness+ — seem remarkably good at turning iPhone and Mac owners into enduring money streams.

“Services delivered all-time record results,” Cook said during Wednesday’s call, citing a robust 27% year-over- year growth for the segment and new highs for services in all of the company’s geographic segments. “We continue to enhance and improve our current service offerings, from Apple Music to Apple News, while continuing to launch new services that enhance our customers’ lives.”

Maestri said Apple services were “stronger across the board” during the quarter — and in fact, performed better than the company expected.

Still, Cook’s comments regarding Apple TV+ subscriptions look more like a bowling ball than a crystal ball. He came prepared with some hard numbers — 352 award nominations and 98 wins! — but not the ones that really matter.
“We’re not releasing subscriber numbers,” Cook said, “but we feel good about where we are.” — Lewis Wallace

4. Next quarter might not look so rosy

After somehow spinning COVID-19 into a success story for several quarters in a row, the party might be about to come to an end.

Apple declined to offer guidance for the upcoming quarter, as it has before during the pandemic. And Maestri pointed to two key factors that could make Q3 2021 revenues seem anemic — at least compared to the company’s latest blowout earnings report.

First is the iPhone. For one thing, the iPhone 12 lineup launched later than usual last year, so the company did not reach “supply-demand balance” until the March quarter. Plus, the iPhone 12 models proved incredibly popular. Both those things combined will make next quarter’s sequential decline “steeper than usual,” Maestri said.

The second factor is supply constraints, which Apple pegged at between $3 billion and $4 billion. With a worldwide shortage of semiconductors biting many industries, the surging popularity of Macs and iPads came at an inconvenient time.

“We are experiencing an incredible level of demand,” Cook said, due to the number of people working from home and the appeal of new Apple products launched recently. — Lewis Wallace

5. Cupertino keeps winning over new converts

Amid all the gigantic numbers — so many billions! — the percentage of new Mac and iPad users stood out.

Around half of the people who bought Macs and iPads during the quarter were new to those products, Maestri said. And that means the population inside Apple’s famed walled garden just keeps getting larger.

“The active install base for both products continues to grow nicely, and reach new all-time highs,” Maestri said.
In China, a market that continues to be quite important to Apple, the percentage of first-timers was even higher.

“About two-thirds of the people buying Mac and iPad were buying them for the first time,” Cook said. “And so we’re attracting some new customers in China, which is really important to us.” — Lewis Wallace