iPhone sales doubled in the last quarter of 2009, helping Apple profit grow by nearly 50%, the company has announced.
Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones during the quarter, 1.3 million more than in Q3 and twice as much as a year earlier.
Revenue grew 31% to $15.68 billion and gross margin rose three percentage points to 40.9%, as Apple posted a $3.38 net profit and generated $5.8 billion in cash during the quarter.
“If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it’s surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said.
Jobs added that Apple had a strong portfolio of products planned for release this year, “starting this week with a major new product that we are really excited about.” The product, which will be debuted tomorrow, is widely expected to be an Apple tablet.
The strong iPhone sales indicate that Apple's strategy of abandoning exclusive handset partnerships is paying off, as does this week's revelation that Vodafone sold 100,000 iPhones in the UK during its first week of offering the handsets.
Vodafone launched the iPhone on January 14 – nearly two and a half years since the handset's debut in the UK through rival O2.
The company is Apple’s third British partner, after Orange and supermarket chain Tesco, to launch the iPhone since O2's exclusivity period expired in November.
Despite the delay and the intense competition, Vodafone said it had attracted 50,000 pre-orders in the lead-up to the launch, and has since sold 50,000 more at retail.
Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that suggest that US operator AT&T's exclusivity period may also be nearing an end.
Inside sources told HotHardware that AT&T will lose its exclusivity tomorrow, with Apple opening up the iPhone to all rival carriers.
But AT&T is reportedly unperturbed by the decision, as it is tired of trying to cope with the capacity requirements of its legions of bandwidth-hogging iPhone users.