Apple sets revenue record during recession

Execs say Mac sales up 9 percent, also call netbooks 'inferior' and dodge questions about Jobs

The company may be waiting for the economy to reach bottom and begin to climb back out of its hole before launching a netbook, Gottheil added, given that Apple would probably not compete on price but instead push the concept of a luxury-class netbook.

Oppenheimer and Cook also dodged a question early in the call about CEO Steve Jobs, who earlier this month announced he was taking a six-month leave from Apple because his medical condition was "more complex" than originally thought.

Oppenheimer repeated bits from the statement Jobs issued last week. "Steve plans to remain involved in major strategic decisions," Oppenheimer said when asked if there was an update on Jobs' situation.

Cook took a different tack, and ignored a question about whether he thought he was a front-runner for the CEO spot if Jobs was unable to come back in June. "There is an extraordinary breadth and depth among Apple's executive team," Cook said, adding that all employees at the company were "wicked smart."

"The values of our company are extremely well-entrenched," Cook said. "Frankly we don't settle for anything less than excellence [so] I think regardless of who is in what job, [those values] are embedded in this company." Gottheil agreed. "I think that's fundamentally true," he said. "That really is in their DNA." Apple's Oppenheimer said that the company was predicting a better quarter for January through March 2009 compared with the same period of 2008. Gottheil found the prediction fascinating. "They're saying, 'Well, it's rough but we've stabilized, we sort of see the bottom on this'," he said. "They're kind of thinking 'this is tough, but it's not horrible'. That's the most amazing thing I've heard about the economy in the last several months."

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

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