Apple Profits Up, But Rocky Road Ahead

Apple announced today that record iPhone and Mac sales drove profits up 47 percent, . News of the phenomenal quarterly results sent Apple stock to a new all-time high of $204 in after-hours trading.

Apple has had the Midas touch recently. Steve Jobs is like the Walt Disney of technology and the gadgets that evolve from his imagination and under his direction are part computer, part magic. Apple has a way of fluidly combining form and functionality in a way that makes its products as aesthetically pleasing as they are capable.

All of that being said, Apple is going to face a steep, uphill battle trying to repeat a quarterly performance like that again. First of all, the stellar year-over-year growth in profit could be as much a commentary on a sluggish 2008 as an indication of a successful 2009. The 47 percent growth is relative to the same quarter last year so it has to be viewed in that context.

Apple managed to capture record Mac and iPhone sales, but sales of Apple's iPod music devices is slipping and Apple has garnered its share of criticism and made some enemies along the way. Google, which , has had a rather public falling out with Apple, creating a bitter rivalry between the two in a number of areas where the two compete head to head.

The iPhone revolutionized the smart phone and has been a tremendous success for Apple. In recent months though Apple's business practices for approving iPhone apps has , and the exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T is slowly becoming an Achilles heel for both companies. Analysts have suggested that by ending exclusivity and distributing the iPhone through other wireless providers as well.

Unfortunately, Apple may have made enemies with the wrong company and that ship may have sailed. After months of rumors that Apple and Verizon were in negotiations to bring the iPhone to Verizon no agreement has materialized. to develop smart phones on the Android mobile operating system.