Apple sits on mountain of cash after record quarter. Now what?

Apple posted a blockbuster Q1 of 2012, thanks in large part to spiking sales of iPad tablets and iPhone handsets. 

Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2012. Here, a line of Apple products on display at Wal-Mart.

Demand for the Apple iPhone hit a new high over the holidays, to the tune of 37 million handsets unloaded in the first quarter of 2012. During the same period – the last 14 weeks of 2011 – Apple sold more than 15 million iPad tablet computers. Those combined sales figures helped drive Apple's quarterly revenue to $46.33 billion, a company record. (Net profit for Apple during Q1 of 2012 was about $13 billion.) 

Apple currently has a market cap of $420 billion, almost twice as high as that of Microsoft, Fox Business reported today. 

"We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs," Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said in a statement. "Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

Meanwhile, according to TechCrunch, Apple has a whopping $97.6 billion in cash on hand, $64 billion of which is offshore. The Huffington Post has assembled a pretty amusing list of things that Apple's $97 billion could pay for, including 216 missions to Mars, 17 years of foreign aid, and Facebook, which is rumored to be valued around $100 billion. 

More likely, of course, is that Apple will use some of that cash to bolster its software and hardware. Remember, back in 2010, Apple purchased Siri – the well-liked voice-powered personal assistant – and subsequently incorporated the software into its iPhone 4S. As Apple's Peter Oppenheimer said during a conference call with reporters recently, the company has no intention of "letting [the cash] burn a hole in [its] pocket”

So what's the takeaway here? Well, over at ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes notes that it sure doesn't seem "anybody or anything is a threat to Apple." 

"Sure, Microsoft has the upper hand when it comes to the desktop, and Android is certainly hot, but Apple’s business is an absolute financial and sales juggernaut. After a mildly disappointing Q4 2011 (which was really only disappointing thanks to crazy predictions made by analysts), the company is back to having record-breaking quarters. With new devices and refreshes on the way," he added. "I don’t see Apple’s fortunes changing any time soon."

Among the devices he's talking about, incidentally, is the iPad 3, which is expected to hit shelves in the US sometime early this year.  

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

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