Hey, turns out that people seem to like a little thing called the iPhone 3G. Apple just announced that it's sold 6.9 million of 'em during its financial fourth quarter, beating out the 6.1 million total first-gen iPhones sold in the previous five quarters -- and beating RIM's total sales this quarter, which Apple seems excited about. Of course, that represents worldwide availability in 51 countries vs the initial US-only launch, so it's not totally unexpected that the numbers are up, but it means that Apple's hit its goal of 10 million iPhones sold in 2008, which should cause some celebration in Cupertino. Apple also seems pleased with Mac sales, which are up 21 percent over a year ago to 2.6 million -- more than it's sold in any other quarter ever. All that combines with 11 million iPods sold for a total profit of $1.1 billion on revenues of $7.9 billion -- that's a lot of scratch. Still, times are tough, so Steve, do you have a seemingly-cautious statement about the US economy that also doubles as a smug shot at your competitors? "We don't yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we're armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt." Yeah, we thought you might.

PS.- The analyst call just finished with a special appearance from Steve Jobs, who took questions. Head past the break for our semi-liveblog transcript of the good parts.


Update: Steve's on the call. He says that Apple has 5,500 apps in the iPhone App Store, and that Apple should sell its 200 millionth app tomorrow -- "unlike anything we've seen in our careers." He's calling Apple customers the "smartest, more product-aware customers in the market," and that economic hardships won't cause them to switch to cheaper machines, just delay their purchases, since "none of our competitors can deliver products in this class." In addition, Apple plans to invest and "innovate through the downturn" as it did the last time the economy went sour.

Update 2:
Taking questions now -- Steve says that the iPhone could be considered an entrant into the netbook market, since it can browse the web (uh, sure), but that Apple's looking at the "nascent" netbook market and it's "got some interesting ideas there if it does evolve."

Update 3: Hitting harder on the price aspect of netbooks, Steve says, "We don't know how to make a $500 machine that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA won't let us do it." He also says that he thinks Apple TV will remain a "hobby" in 2009, and totally shot down a question about touch / tablet computing.

Update 4: That's it! In response to a question about different form factors for the iPhone, Steve said "Babe Ruth only had one home run, but he hit it a bunch of times," and that he didn't think software developers would want to target lots of different platforms -- probably indicating that the current iPhone design isn't changing for a while. He also said that he didn't think Apple's competitors really understood the idea of a phone as a "software platform" -- a pill that requires a pretty big dose of RDF to swallow, since both Google and Microsoft probably beg to differ.

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