Apple's record quarter: Who's buying in this economy?

Apple reported another amazing quarter, thanks to record sales of premium luxury products? In this economy, the question is: Who is buying and how can they afford these products?

You have to hand it to Apple. The company managed to pull off another amazing quarter, breaking financial and sales records on a portfolio of luxury products that mostly carry a premium price tag.

For its fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 25, the company said Monday that it generated more than $65 billion in revenue, earned a record $14 billion in net profit and is now sitting in $51 billion in cash.

Meanwhile, headlines yesterday continued to paint a picture of a poor economy in the U.S. and other regions. People are still out of work, the housing market is still in crisis, state and local governments are broke and politicians are slinging bad-economy mud across the airwaves as the U.S. approaches mid-term elections in two weeks.

Apple is simply immune to the economic back-and-forth.

Forgive me for going a little off-topic here but here's a question I can't help but ask: Who are the people buying all of these products and how on Earth can they afford them?

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to rain on Apple's parade and I certainly understand that, as a company of its size, it also has a role in keeping the global economy humming. But iPads start at $499 and Macbooks start at $999. That's certainly not pocket change.

Speaking for myself, I'm in the market for a new Mac for the house - probably an iMac. And I'd finally like to take the plunge and get an iPad for the family. Add it all up and I'll need more than $2,000 to do that. That's a lot of dough for me to drop when there are other things that we need, instead of just things that we want.

I guess it all comes down to priorities, right? We put school clothes and sports camps for the kids in front of an iPad this year and decided to use the iMac money on a nice family vacation instead. At this point, I don't know that I could justify dropping more than $2,000 at the Apple store.

I can't help but wonder they do it. Are they...

  • putting away money out of every paycheck to pay for these products?
  • running up credit card debt?
  • facing foreclosure and using not-paying-the-mortgage money?
  • taking on second jobs for extra cash?
  • trading the car in for a bike to save money?
  • letting someone else foot the bill - an employer, parent, rich uncle?

Again, congrats to Apple on an incredible quarter. I can only imagine how much stronger it would have been if the world wasn't dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime economic meltdown.

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