Apple watchers: Six takeaways from latest earnings call

Apple scored an all-time revenue record during the middle of a pandemic.

Apple Q1 earnings are out, and they beat Wall Street expectations by quite a bit. Analysts had expected earnings in the region of $103 billion, and Apple delivered $111.44 billion.

And this revenue was delivered during a pandemic.

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To put Apple's growth into perspective, yesterday Apple closed at $142.06. Adjusted for splits and dividends, 20 years ago, Apple closed at $0.30 a share.

Also: Best iPhone models to buy in 2021

While Apple's financials offer a deep look at the company (not as good as it used to back in the day when we got unit sales breakdowns, but it's still interesting), I find the earnings call that follows to be the most interesting bit.

So, what did we learn? Here are six things that, if you are an Apple watcher, you need to know.

1: Over a billion iPhones in use

Apple's install base is massive. The iPhone's active install base is now over a billion, with the entire Apple ecosystem of devices exceeding 1.65 billion.

That's a lot of devices that Apple can sell content and accessories to.

2: Here's the reason why the iPhone 12 was hard to find early on

According to CFO Luca Maestri, iPhone demand "exceeded our own internal expectations at the beginning of the quarter."

That makes sense, and explains the longer than expected shipping times.

3: Big iPad and Mac growth

Pandemic-driven growth of 41% and 21%, respectively. What's also interesting is that CEO Tim Cook went on to say that "about half of the purchases that are coming from people that are new" to the platform.

4: The holiday season was a big season

Here are Cook's own words:

"The winter holiday season is always a busy time for us and our products. But this year was unique. We had a record number of device activations during the last week of the quarter. And as COVID-19 kept us apart, we saw the highest volume of FaceTime calls ever this Christmas."

5: Vague hints about Apple Silicon M1 growth

I'm still untangling what Cook said:

"If you look at Mac, the M1, I think, gives us a new growth trajectory that we haven't had in the past. Certainly, if Q1 is a good proxy, there's lots of excitement about M1-based Macs. As you know, we're partly through the transition. We've got more -- a lot more to do there. We're early days of a 2-year transition but we're excited about what we see so far."

So, if I got that right, M1 has seen a lot of interest, but it's early days.

6: Switchers and upgraders

Users switching from Android, and existing iPhone owners upgrading handsets was a strong driver of iPhone 12 sales, increase on a year-over-year basis. This led to Apple seeing the largest number of upgraders in a quarter.