Apple CEO Steve Jobs: iPhone sales “too big to ignore”

Making a rare appearance during the company’s quarterly results conference call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs discussed several topics, including iPhone sales, the App Store, and the economy. Notably, Jobs compared Apple’s iPhone sales in the quarter to that of rival Research In Motion, stating that Apple “beat” RIM by selling 6.9 million iPhones compared to RIM’s sales of 6.1 Blackberry devices. “Even more remarkable,” Jobs said, was the fact that measured by revenues, Apple has become the world’s third-largest mobile phone supplier, behind only Nokia and Samsung. Stating that deferred iPhone revenue has grown to $5.8 billion dollars, or 39% of Apple’s total revenue, Jobs said it was “too big to ignore,” while outlining the company’s reporting of non-GAAP financial results to help investors get a better sense of Apple’s actual business. Later, when asked about the upcoming year and the possibility of the market being cluttered with iPhone “wannabes,” Jobs said the company has to be the best, without leaving a price umbrella underneath the iPhone. He noted that Apple has a great partner in AT&T, and that both are committed to making the iPhone a great value for customers, while hinting that the “next round” would include either lower prices or new models.

Speaking about the App Store, Jobs said Apple has changed the value proposition for mobile devices. He said the Store will see its 200 millionth download tomorrow, now offers over 5,550 applications, and is available in 62 countries around the world. The rate of new submissions increases every week. “We’ve never seen anything like this in our careers,” Jobs said. He also said that customers are now attracted to iPhone not only for its functionality and multi-touch user interface, but also its ability to add free games and applications.

Discussing the economy, Jobs described Apple customers as some of the smartest, most product-aware customers in the market, saying that they are unlikely to abandon the quality and seamless integration of Apple’s products. He went on to say that they are more likely to delay purchases than switch away from the company’s products, and that while Apple may not appeal to every prospective customer, the percentage it needs to appeal to in order to grow its share isn’t that many. Finally, he noted that Apple has almost $25b safely in the bank, and zero debt.

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