Apple 2.0

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How many iPods did Apple sell last quarter?

April 10, 2011: 12:45 PM ET

In this category, the pros are more bullish than the amateurs

Source: Company reports; Piper Jaffray

iPod unit sales, despite seasonal spikes, have been drifting down since Christmas 2008, when they peaked at 22.7 million for the quarter (Apple's fiscal Q1 2009).

That quarter also represented the low point in iPod average selling price (ASP) per unit, $148. That's because Apple's (AAPL) business model was shifting from selling dedicated music players to selling more expensive hand-held computers, like the iPhone and the iPod touch, that also play music. Apple reports iPhone sales separately, but you can trace the growth of iPod touch sales in the chart above, and in the iPod's rising ASP, which hit $176 in fiscal Q1 2011.

All this is by way of explaining an anomaly that surfaced when we polled 43 analysts -- professionals and amateurs -- for their iPod unit sales estimates for fiscal Q2 2011, the quarter that ended two weeks ago.

In every other category -- from top to bottom line -- the amateurs' estimates are higher than the professionals'. But when it comes to iPod unit sales, the pros come in, on average, 1.66% higher. For once, the high estimate (11.32 million iPods) was offered by a professional, Gabelli's Hendi Susanto, and the low (8.5 million) by an amateur, Luke Kittell from The Mac Observer's Apple Finance Board.

It seems the amateurs, as a group, are betting that Apple will have sold fewer music players but more hand-held computers.

Below: The estimates for Q2, along with each analyst's ranking in the Q1 2011 earnings smackdown. We'll find out who was closest to the mark this quarter when Apple reports its earnings on April 20.

Analyst, affiliation iPods Date Q1 rank
Hendi Susanto, Gabelli & Co. 11.32 3/25/11 NA
Alexis Cabot, Apple Finance Board 10.78 3/30/11 3
T. Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity 10.70 3/28/11 29
Steven Fox, CLSA 10.50 3/29/11 NA
Scott Craig, Merrill Lynch 10.34 3/21/11 16
William Power, Baird 10.34 1/19/11 34
Patrick Smellie, Apple Finance Board 10.34 3/25/11 1
William Fearnley, Janney Capital 10.30 1/19/11 26
Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray 10.20 3/25/11 33
Adam Thompson, Apple Finance Board 10.14 3/22/11 NA
Daniel Tello, Deagol's AAPL Model 10.13 3/21/11 6
Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank 10.12 4/5/11 13
Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs 10.10 3/25/11 12
Ralph Schackart, William Blair 10.09 1/19/11 NA
Matthew Hoffman, Cowen & Co. 10.07 1/19/11 23
Robert Paul Leitao, Posts At Eventide 10.00 3/30/11 7
Horace Dediu, Asymco 10.00 3/27/11 11
Shaw Wu, Sterne Agee 10.00 3/30/11 27
Maynard Um, UBS 10.00 3/28/11 37
Richard Gardner, Citigroup 10.00 3/25/11 18
Dennis Hildebrand, Apple's Gold 9.98 3/26/11 8
Robert Cihra, Caris 9.96 3/25/11 NA
Rajesh Ghai, Think Equity 9.92 3/25/11 39
Andy Hargreaves, Pacific Crest 9.89 3/30/11 NA
Jeff Fosberg, Apple Finance Board 9.80 3/27/11 9
Andy Zaky, Bullish Cross 9.80 3/31/11 5
Tavis McCourt, Morgan Keegan 9.80 3/25/11 35
Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein Research 9.80 3/2/11 30
Brian Marshall, Gleacher & Co. 9.72 3/3/11 19
Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer 9.72 3/2/11 10
Scott Sutherland, Wedbush 9.72 3/3/11 NA
Brian White, Ticonderoga 9.72 3/28/11 38
Chas McKenna, Apple Finance Board 9.70 3/27/11 NA
Peter Misek, Jeffries 9.70 3/30/11 NA
Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley 9.65 3/25/11 36
Mark Moskowitz, J.P. Morgan 9.64 3/25/11 15
Turley Muller, Financial Alchemist 9.60 3/23/11 2
Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna 9.58 3/25/11 31
Mark Beauch, Apple Finance Board 9.50 3/29/11 21
Daniel Ernst, Hudson Square 9.50 1/19/11 28
Nicolae Mihalache, Traderhood 9.25 3/27/11 4
Charlie Wolf, Needham 9.20 3/29/11 41
Luke Kittell, Apple Finance Board 8.50 3/29/11 NA

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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