Apple's numbers have a story to tell

Apple store
Apple is the most valuable company in the world

Anybody who stuck by Apple in its underdog days should be feeling pretty smug today: after yet another record-breaking quarter, Apple now has all the money in the known universe.

Apple's profits now exceed Google's entire revenue, and the world is its oyster.

Tim Cook could commission a helicopter made of cheese, a robot army and a selection of intercontinental ballistic missiles to point at Samsung without making the tiniest dent in Apple's cash mountain, but that's not the most interesting thing about the latest financial results.

What's interesting to me is that once again, reports of Apple's doom have been wildly exaggerated.

For much of the last year, we've heard that Apple's doomed (John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame has been collecting the predictions). 2011 would be the year that everyone dumps the iPhone for other smartphone OSes. 2011 would be the year that rival tablets give the iPad a wedgie. 2011 would be the year that Apple's bubble bursts.

It hasn't burst. And it doesn't look like it's going to. Even if you hate Apple with a passion, it's worth looking at the numbers, because they're not just figures on a balance sheet. They're tea leaves, or runes, or crystal balls.

They're in the money

The numbers are extraordinary. The "disappointing" iPhone 4S drove sales of iPhones to a record high - 37 million in three months - with the 4S far and away the most popular model.

Sales are up 128%, and given that many iPhone 4 owners - me included - are hanging on for iPhone 5 before upgrading, and that Apple has barely begun to sell in huge markets such as China, 2012's numbers are going to be even bigger.

Tablets? 15.4 million iPads, up 111% on the previous year. Whoever's buying Kindle Fires, they aren't buying them instead of Apple tablets. Maybe they're buying them instead of BlackBerry Playbooks, or sheds.

Macs? Up 26%. Even the Apple TV shifted 1.4 million units. The only thing that isn't doing so well is the iPod, which Apple predicted would be replaced by the smartphone.

To do those numbers at any time is incredible. To do it in the middle of a global recession is bordering on the miraculous.

Apple's numbers are telling a story, and the story is that Steve Jobs was right: the post-PC era is here. Whether you're an Apple fan or an Android one, the chances are that more and more of your everyday computing is taking place on a post-PC device - a tablet, or a smartphone.

It's personal computing, but we're doing less of it on PCs.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.