Facing uncharted waters, Apple reports 54% year-over-year revenue increase


Q2 2021 —

Chip shortages and a waning pandemic might make growth unsustainable, though.

Samuel Axon

A casually dressed Tim Cook stands in a green field.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing new products in the company’s April 20, 2021, livestream.

Nathan Mattise

Apple released its Q2 2021 earnings report to investors today after the bell, and it was another huge year—so huge, in fact, that investors are concerned it’s not sustainable as the world enters a new, later phase of the pandemic.

Revenue for the quarter was $89.58 billion, a record for the March quarter, and up 54 percent year over year. The number surpassed investors’ and analysts’ predictions and expectations leading up to the report. Gross margin was 42.5 percent.

Apple reported double-digit growth in every product category. Mac and iPad revenue were up 70.1 percent and 78.9 percent from last year ($9.10 billion and $7.8 billion, respectively), and the iPhone was up 65.5 percent (to $47.94 billion). Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and analysts have called the iPhone 12 launch a “super cycle,” in which adoption, upgrades, and sales are particularly strong due to various factors.

As for services, that business segment saw 26.7 percent growth year over year (to $16.9 billion), with an all-time revenue record of $16.9 billion—up 27 percent over a year ago. “Other Products,” which most notably includes wearables like the Apple Watch and AirPods, saw 24 percent growth, reaching $7.83 billion in revenue.

On a call with investors, Apple executive Tim Cook and others from the company fielded questions about the sustainability of this kind of revenue and growth in light of a partial transition out of a pandemic lockdown mindset in some regions.

Analysts and Apple itself have both said that the company’s products have thrived amidst the pandemic. For example, Mac sales have gone up in part because of a rise in remote work and school, though the introduction of the M1 chip last fall also likely played a part.

Further, semiconductor supply shortages may threaten the company’s ability to meet demand in coming quarters.

The Apple reps acknowledged that it’s difficult to predict where things will go from here, and they again declined to provide guidance for the next quarter. (They have not done so since the global pandemic began.)

Beyond that, Cook spent much of his time on the call either recapping the product and services announcements from the company’s April 20 event or talking up Apple’s various green initiatives.

Apple stock rose almost 4 percent in after-hours trading following the call but has slipped down to just 2 percent over the day’s earlier value as of this writing.

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