Apple profits increase 50%, boosted by iPhone sales

Apple has announced a 50% increase in profits after seeing a bumper Christmas period, in which sales of iPhones doubled from a year ago.

Net income rose to $3.38bn (£2.08bn) in the three months to 26 December, from the $2.26bn it made the previous year.

Apple said it sold 8.7 million iPhones in the quarter. Sales of Macs also rose 33%, although iPod sales fell by 8%.

But the results were boosted by a new accounting standard that records revenue at the point of sale.

Previously, revenue was deferred over the life of products.

On Wednesday, the firm will announce a new product, widely expected to be a touch-screen "tablet" computer.

The company has previously used January launches to unveil products including the iPhone and the MacBook Air.

Apple shares rose $5.33, or 2.7%, to close at $203.08 in New York before the results came out.

In extended trading the shares rose a further $1.28 to $204.36.

'Phenomenal sales'

Sales in the first quarter rose to $15.7bn from $11.9bn in the same period a year ago.

Sales of the iPhone were boosted by its roll-out in China, the world's biggest mobile phone market.

Mac sales rose to 3.36 million during the quarter while sales of iPods fell to 21 million.

Analysts were impressed with the results.

"It was a very good quarter, as expected. It's a continued sign that Apple has great products that consumers want despite this recession," commented Daniel Ernst from Hudson Square Research.

"Mac sales were phenomenal as well... Macs continue to gain share and what's interesting is that it only has 3.6% share globally so there's a lot of headroom."

Apple forecast sales for the current quarter of between $11bn and $11.4bn.

"The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about," said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs.

Earlier this month, Microsoft and HP unveiled a touchscreen slate computer, ahead of Apple's much rumoured device launch.

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