iPod sales drive strong quarter for Apple

Apple Computer has posted revenue $2bn for its first quarter of 2004, its highest quarterly revenue in four years.

Apple Computer has posted revenue $2bn for its first quarter of 2004, its highest quarterly revenue in four years.

iPod sales more than tripled as Apple sold 733,000 digital music players, generating $256m in revenue. Apple's PC shipments also climbed during the quarter, to 829,000 units, bringing in revenue of $1.3bn.

Apple turned a profit for the period of $63m for the quarter, which ended 27 December.

Chief executive officer Steve Jobs hailed the quarter as an outstanding one, saying that his company began its financial year with "strong momentum", especially around Mac OS X, which is now used by nearly 40% of Apple's customers.

Merrill Lynch said it is pleased with Apple's strategy and product lineup.

"We think Apple has gotten its act together in focusing on core markets, building a mature management team and, most important, innovating again," Merrill Lynch wrote. "People will pay more for Porsches, but they have to perform."

The introduction of iTunes for Windows during the quarter contributed to the strength of iTunes and iPod revenue. iTunes users bought and downloaded 17 million songs from the service during the quarter.

In the Americas, overall revenue rose 25% from the same quarter the previous year, and grew 48% in Europe, 13% in Japan and 55% in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan.

In education, sales to higher education customers were up strongly year on year, while sales to other schools declined slightly.

For this quarter, which ends in March, Apple expects another quarter of double-digit, year-on-year growth in both revenue and earnings, with revenue growing to $1.8bn.

Stacy Cowley and Stephen Lawson write for IDG News Service

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