Apple results disappoint analysts

Despite selling 17 million iPads during the third quarter this year, Apple’s missed analysts’ estimates for the second time since 2003.

The company’s reported revenue of $35.0 billion and net profit of $8.8 billion, compared with $28.6 billion and $7.3 billion in the same quarter last year. Shares fell around six percent on the news.

The reason for analysts’ disappointment is the company’s iPhone sales. At 26 million, the figure’s 28 percent up on the same period last year, but still a couple of million short of expectations.

Customers, clearly, have been holding off in the expectation of a new model later this year – that is, if they haven’t gone out and bought an entirely different phone instead.

Reporting the results, Apple was keener to focus on other products.

“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” said CEO Tim Cook.

“We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching iOS 6 this fall. We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”

But it’s the iPhone that Apple depends on, with the device accounting for 46 percent of the company’s revenues, and almost certainly a higher percentage of its profits.

According to Cook, part of the drop-off in iPhone sales derives from changes to the channel, with inventory having built up over the previous quarter. And, he pointed out, sales of the iPhone 4S in China were particularly strong in the previous quarter, leading to a drop-off in demand.

But the success of rival products from the likes of Samsung and HTC almost certainly have something to do with the figures: no wonder Apple’s so keen to use its patents to try and win import bans where it can.