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Apple's strong sales don't extend to iPad

Apple's year has been a busy and profitable one, but out of all its products, the iPad seems to be losing steam while its Macs is speeding up.

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Apple's iPhone was again the company's star in the first three months of the year. The tech giant sold 61 million iPhones, or 40 percent more than in the same period a year ago. That represented about two-thirds of its $58 billion in revenue.

But executives also shed some light on other well-known Apple products in interviews and a conference call with analysts Monday evening.

iPad sales down

Apple's tablet computing device, once a red-hot consumer gadget, has suffered from a steady decline in sales over the last year. Apple sold 12.6 million iPads in the latest quarter, for about $5.4 billion in revenue. That's down from 16.3 million iPads sold in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts say consumers are realizing tablets aren't as useful for some tasks, and they're also waiting longer to buy new models. Apple CEO Tim Cook said Monday that some potential iPad users are opting instead for the company's new lightweight MacBook computers, or even the newer iPhone models that have larger screens.

But Cook said he sees a future for the iPad in business settings, where workers can use specialized iPad apps created by IBM and other commercial software developers. "I believe the iPad is an extremely good business over the long term," Cook said. "Precisely when it begins to grow again, I wouldn't want to predict. But I strongly believe that it will."

Mac sales up

At a time when market researchers say the personal computer market is shrinking, Apple is actually increasing its sales of Macs. The company sold 4.6 million Mac desktops and notebook computers in the last quarter.

That's a lot fewer than the estimated 13.4 million PCs sold by leading PC-maker Lenovo in the same period. But the Mac contributed $5.6 billion of Apple's revenue last quarter and saw unit sales grow 10 percent, while market researchers at International Data Corp. estimate total PC sales by all vendors shrank nearly 7 percent.

The growth in Mac sales was led by Apple's MacBook portables, said Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri, although he did not break out desktop or laptop figures.

Watch sales undisclosed

Despite repeated questions, Cook and Maestri declined to reveal any sales figures for the Apple Watch, which went on sale this month. The company is currently only accepting orders online and Cook said, "right now, demand is greater than the supply."

But he said Apple is working to fill orders and expedite deliveries that have been delayed for several weeks, while increasing supplies to the point where Apple will begin selling the watch in more countries by late June. Currently, the watch is being sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Maestri also said the watch will contribute to a slight dip in the company's profit margins during the first quarter that it's on sale. Cook, however, said that's typical for a new product when manufacturing and supply chains are still being refined, and he declined to offer any estimate for the watch's profitability over the long term.

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