Additional notes from Apple’s Q4 2008 conference call


In its fourth-quarter 2008 Quarterly Results Conference Call, Apple Inc. executives CEO Steve Jobs, CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook made several comments concerning the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. At the start of the call, Oppenheimer stated that because deferred iPhone revenue has grown so much — to $5.8 billion at the end of the September quarter, or more than 39% of Apple’s total revenue had it not been deferred — the company will begin providing quarterly non-GAAP info to show how iPhone/Apple TV numbers are used internally, including adjusted sales, the adjusted cost of sale, and adjusted net income.

Apple CFO Tim Cook made several statements regarding the iPod and iPhone, revealing that the latter was shipping to carriers in 51 countries by end of the quarter, with 30,000 points of distribution. He also revealed the company had roughly 2 million iPhones across all of the 51 countries in inventory, and said Apple thinks that’s about right for 4-6 weeks of inventory. Cook declined to give hard numbers on how many of the iPhones went to new users or first-gen owners, saying that information was confidential to Apple’s carrier partners, but added that since the company expanded from six to 51 countries, there were a large amount of iPhones being sold to first-time buyers.

On iPods, Cook said that sales were up eight percent for the quarter, but noted that the final weeks of quarter we were running flat year-over-year, adding that it’s difficult to predict whether the usual holiday seasonal lift will follow the pattern that it has before. Cook also hinted at possible iPhone price cuts while outlining Apple’s price drop on the iPod touch, from $299 to $229 on the 8GB model, with $100 off the others, and doubling the memory on the iPod nano while maintaining current price points.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs also made several sweeping statements, regarding the iPhone as both a netbook competitor and in comparison to other cellular handset makers, and the Apple TV. Discussing the pricing of the company’s Mac line relative to the economy, Jobs explained that Apple considers the iPhone as one of the company’s entries into the netbook category, while simultaneously stating that there weren’t many netbooks being sold. When asked about Apple’s decision to produce only one model of phone, Jobs explained that while most companies in the past have chosen to make a great number of different models, as software becomes a differentiating technology in the category, these different models will be unattractive to developers. He said that Apple approaches the market as a software platform company, suggesting that Apple will make very few models in order to make same software available across all phones. Finally, discussing the Apple TV, Jobs again stated that the category was a “hobby,” repeating his prior statement that he doesn’t think anyone has yet succeeded in it, while adding that he thinks it will continue to be a hobby in 2009.

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Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.