Apple’s incredible turnaround since acquiring NeXT (and Steve Jobs) 12 years ago is well known. Apple’s been strong for over a decade, with exceptional growth far ahead of the industry, especially the last five years.
When every quarter seems to set a new sales record, even amidst a glum economy, it’s easy to become a bit jaded about the whole thing. I mean, ho hum, a few million more Macs, another 10 million iPods, and that new phone thing seems to be doing splendidly.
So let’s put some of this into perspective. The above slide is from Steve Jobs’ talk at Macworld 1997 in Boston. It’s the slide used when discussing “The Problem” at Apple. Put simply, sales in ’95 were $11.1B, in ’96 $9.5B, and in ’97 (estimated) $7B. Going rapidly downhill, Apple was bleeding money.
Fast forward to Apple’s recent Q4 ’09 results. Sales were $9.87B. That blows the doors off ’97 and handily beats ’96. Think about it; Apple bested these entire years’ sales in just one quarter. And it wasn’t even a holiday quarter.
But that’s not all. Apple reports sales with one arm tied behind its back. It doesn’t recognize all iPhone revenue immediately, instead spreading it out over two years due to specific accounting requirements. Those requirements are changing, however, and without them the adjusted figure for Q4 is $12.25B, which even blows ’95 away.