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Apple’s record sales of iPads and iPhones point the way for multichannel retailers

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Apple continues to sell record numbers of iPads and iPhones, its latest results have confirmed. The figures illustrate the growing predominance of mobile commerce in the multichannel mix.

Overnight results showed that in the quarter to December 28 2013, the computing giant sold 51m iPhones, up from 47.8m in the same time in the previous year. At the same time, the company saw iPad sales grow to 26m, up from 22.9m the previous year. The sales dwarfed those of conventional desktop and laptop Macs, which sold 4.8m, up from 4.1m last time.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the business was “really happy” with record quarterly sales that hit $57.6bn (£34.8bn), while net profit came in at $13.1bn (£7.9bn). International sales accounted for 63% of revenue. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better,” he said.

These mobile devices are among those currently fuelling the fast expansion of mobile commerce. The relatively faster growth of iPhones and iPads compared to Macs points towards a future in which commentators have suggested mobile devices will be the most widely used for online shopping; already companies such as John Lewis are starting to see tablets and smartphones overtake desktop and laptops as device of choice for browsing and buying over the internet.

Commenting on Apple’s results, Warwick Business School professor of strategy Loizos Heracleous said the company would need to innovate in order to return to still faster growth.

“Even though Apple has achieved record revenues and profits, the growth rates of its leading products (iPhone, iPad) are reducing,” he said. “This means that to recapture the rates of growth that Apple historically delivered, there should be new product introductions of the calibre of these leading products.”

The form that innovation takes could be key to the future of online shopping, just as Apple’s iPhone and iPad has driven the development of mobile retailing so far.

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