Apple COO Tim Cook used his company's April 20 earnings call to shed a little light on the company's upcoming legal battle against Samsung, and offered a brief update on CEO Steve Jobs, who is officially absent on medical leave.
"We do see him on a regular basis," he said, referring to Jobs. "He continues to be involved in major strategy decisions." But would Apple's famous leader eventually return to full-time duty? "He wants to be back as soon as he can."
Apple reported strong sales for the fiscal 2011 second quarter ended March 26, with revenues of $24.67 billion and net profit of $5.99 billion-a significant rise from the year-ago quarter, when the company logged revenues of $13.50 billion and quarterly profit of $3.07 billion.
Helping drive those numbers were quarterly sales of 3.76 million Macs, 18.65 million iPhones, 9.02 million iPods and 4.7 million iPads. "We sold every iPad 2 that we could make during the quarter," Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said during the earnings call. "Seventy-five percent of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPad."
Despite his absence on the actual call (he does show up on occasion, if only to argue that Google Android tablets will always prove inferior to the iPad), Jobs issued an upbeat statement as part of Apple's earnings release. "We're firing on all cylinders," he wrote. "We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year."
Apple will almost certainly release a new iPhone and revamped iOS later in the year, along with Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," the next version of its operating system for Macs.
Despite Apple's dominant position in the tablet arena, and commanding market share in smartphones, the company finds itself increasingly challenged by the growing family of Google Android devices. Apple recently filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against one of its biggest rivals in that area, Samsung, which offers an Android-based line of Galaxy Tab tablets and Galaxy S smartphones.
"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smartphone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," Apple wrote in its suit. Soon after, Samsung issued a statement that it was planning to take "legal action" against Apple.
Complicating matters is Samsung's position as a major Apple components supplier, something that Cook acknowledged during the earnings call.
"I expect a strong relationship will continue," he said. Nonetheless, "we felt the mobile division of Samsung had crossed the line ... after trying for some time to work the issue, we decided to rely on the courts."
Android's growth aside, some analysts expect the iPad to maintain its leadership position in tablets.
"Despite the introduction of competitive 10-inch Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets at CES, MWC and CTIA from OEMs such as Motorola, LG, Samsung and others, we expect Apple to hold dominant market share of the tablet market in C2011," T. Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, wrote in a co-authored April 20 research note. "In fact, our checks indicate strong sales of iPads despite the stock-outs and slowing sales of the Xoom following the iPad 2 launch."
Samsung is prepping two new Android 3.0 tablets, measuring 8.9 inches and 10.1 inches, for release this summer.