iPhone sales growth earns new fourth quarter record

Apple announced today it sold 33.8 million iPhones in fiscal 4Q 2013, which is a record for the quarter in any year; last year it sold 26.9 million iPhones in the same quarter. Most impressive, however, is this figure: Apple sold a record 150 million iPhones in the fiscal year on the whole, up 25 million (16.7%) from 2012, and the company has now sold 421.3 million smartphones in total.

The new report reflects sales for all iPhone models through September, including the 5, 5c and 5s. The industry-shaking TouchID-equipped 5s has been making headlines as it sells even faster than expected after its early Sept. 2013 launch. It was recently rated the fastest smartphone on the market in performance tests, likely owing in part to its 64-bit A7 system-on-a-chip. The gold-colored model also helped boost sales and interest in the 5s.

The overall company stats also reflect an interesting one-notch down-tick in gross margins, which industry experts maintain will be a vital part of Apple's future as it competes with the growing Android market. The overall margin was 37%, down from 40% in last year's fourth quarter, and it is expected to stay the same next year. While most agree that Apple is wise to keep its premium product profile to differentiate itself from the competition, they also concede it must incrementally shrink its margins to stay dominant.

Along with iPhone stats came some for the rest of the company's product line. Apple CEO Tim Cooke cited iOS 7, the new Retina iPad mini, new iPad Air, new MacBook Pros, Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks and new iWork and iLife apps as critical to the company's growth this quarter. The widely awaited announcement came just a few moments before it began streaming the company's overall earnings conference call.