Apple figures show stall in growth
Apple has been dealt a new blow to morale as figures for the Christmas period show its rocket-like growth has continued to stall.
Revenue for the first fiscal quarter of 2013 - from October 1 to December 31 last year - came in at a record 54.5 billion US dollars (£34.4 billion) but fell short of the 55 billion US dollars forecast by Wall Street.
And earnings of 13.1 billion US dollars (£8.2 billion) remained flat compared to the year before, marking the first time tech giant had not boasted double-digit increases in earnings for years. It came as Apple has become increasingly beleaguered amid speculation that demand for its flagship iPhone handset is shrinking in the face of stiff competition.
Announced pn Thursday after the closing bell went at the Nasdaq blue-chip stock market, the numbers showed that Apple had shifted 47.8 million iPhones throughout the quarter. Analysts had predicted the company would sell one million more of the handsets. Apple shares fell 3% to 517 US dollars (£326) in extended trading after the release of the report.
The company's share price last week slipped below 500 US dollars for the first time in 11 months as investors reacted to reports that smartphones running Google's Android software have overtaken the iPhone 5.
Meanwhile, rival electronics firm Samsung recently reported that global sales of its Galaxy S smartphone series had passed 100 million since the first model was launched less than three years ago. It reached the milestone faster than its competitor - it took about four years for Apple to sell more than 100 million iPhones.
The figures showed a record 22.9 million iPads were sold during the quarter and total sales of 75 million devices using Apple's iOS operating system. But only 4.1 million Mac laptop and desktop computers were snapped up compared to 5.2 million in the same period a year ago, while Apple shifted 12.7 million iPod portable media players this year in contrast to 15.4 million during last year's first quarter.
Despite the 18% rise in revenue, the market's negative reaction to the figures continued to pile pressure on Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who took over after visionary co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in October 2011.
Mr Cook remained upbeat, saying in a statement: "We are thrilled with record revenue of over 54 billion US dollars and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter. We are very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world."
Providing its forecast for the next quarter, Apple said it expected revenue to be between 41 billion (£25.8 billion) and 43 billion US dollars (£27.1 billion).