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One billion served: iPhone 12 helps boost Apple iPhone to record sales

Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's iPhone install base tops one billion, CEO Tim Cook announced during its first quarterly earnings call of 2021. That contributes to 1.65 billion install base among all of Apple's devices, which caps off an earnings report citing record $111 billion in quarterly sales.

That one billion iPhones number is up from a reported 900 million iPhone install base in 2019, per Reuters, while the total install base was 1.5 billion devices in 2020. This growth was helped by the first sales of the iPhone 12, which helped iPhone sales top $65 billion in the quarter, up from nearly $56 billion in the same period last year, per Apple's Q1 2021 earnings report.

During the earnings call, Cook stated that more iPhone users had upgraded in the last quarter than ever before in the same time frame. They'd also seen more consumers switching to iPhones than last year – presumably to the iPhone 12, but potentially also the iPhone SE 2020 and other models, like the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, which were both retained in the official lineup and discounted after the new line of Apple smartphones launched in late 2021.

Quarterly earnings: gains all around

To summarize Apple's Q1 2021 quarterly earnings report: sales growth everywhere, for all products. This is obviously a success story in a year where Apple admitted that the COVID outbreak impacted production of the iPhone 12, and likely other products, as well as the pandemic's impact on both Apple brick-and-mortar store closures and consumer spending all over the world.

The biggest regional growth came in Greater China, where Apple sales jumped from $13.5 billion in Q1 2020 up to $21.3 billion in Q1 2021. Cook noted that China's 5G infrastructure is more developed than the US's, and more 5G-capable phones are sold there; ergo, it was important to release a 5G-capable iPhone like the iPhone 12. 

Device-wise, iPhone continues to make up the majority of the sales with $65.5 billion, though its portion of total sales (which rose to $111 billion in Q1 2021) has slightly dropped from 60% down to 58% as the rest of Apple's lineup's sales increased. That includes Services, which added Apple Fitness Plus and the all-inclusive Apple One services, rising from $12.7 billion last year to $15.7 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

So what does this say for Apple in 2021? Cook characteristically deflected much of the forecasting questions, preferring not to go into specifics, but did note that the company is looking to take more of a chunk out of the personal computing market with its lineup of M1 chipset-powered Macs. 

Only the recently-released MacBook Air has Apple's new M1 processor (which propelled it to the top of our best laptop list), but this is just the beginning of a two-year period transitioning the entire Mac lineup to the new silicon, which promises more power, better efficiency, and longer battery life.