Apple returns to growth as cheaper iPads boost sales

Apple’s business has been producing record-setting revenues and profits for years now. But in the second quarter of last year its blistering period of growth came to an end. Today the company posted its third quarter earnings, and it’s clear Apple has found a way to restore some of the lost momentum. Revenue grew about 6 percent year over year, and profit was up 12 percent over the same period in 2016.

Leading the way was Apple’s iPad sales, which were up 15 percent from last year. Revenue rose just 2 percent, suggesting sales of cheaper $329 iPads were a bigger driver of the jump in sales than the new models of the iPad Pro. We posted a positive review of the cheaper iPad in April of this year, highlighting the low price as the best feature. Prior to this earnings report, Apple had gone years without an annual increase in the number of iPads sold.

iPhone and Mac sales were both up modestly on a year-over-year basis. In total, Apple reported $45.4 billion in revenue and $8.7 billion in profit for this quarter. The biggest drivers of growth were from Services and Other Products. Both of those revenue lines grew at more than 20 percent over the same period last year. The App Store, Apple Music, and cloud storage are the big drivers of revenue growth for services. Hardware like the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones where the highlights of the Other Products category.

Finally, China — the region driving Apple growth for the past few years — saw revenue drop from last year as competition from local phone makers increased.

Chinese consumers might not have to wait long. Apple’s projections for its next quarter of earnings would indicate a big iPhone launch this coming September.