Though Apple began as a computer company, it's common knowledge that Cupertino's other products, such as the iPad, iPod and iPhone, are massive money-makers. The company's latest earnings report revealed that Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones and 15.43 million iPads in the fourth quarter of last year. By comparison, the number of Macs shipped in the same quarter was just 5.2 million. Not a small number by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely not at the level of the iPhone and iPad. In fact, the iPad and iPhone are so wildly successful that all the Macs sold in nearly three decades still can't match up to iOS device sales in terms of units.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently revealed 55 million iPads to date, adding that it took five years to achieve that number with the iPod, and 22 years for the Mac (as noted by Fortune here). This got the folks over at Asymco thinking about unit sales across Apple's product portfolio and how long each device had been on sale. Horace Dediu writes that the iOS platform overtook OS X in less than four years and that last year alone, the number of iOS devices sold amounted to more than the number of Macs sold, well, ever.
Of course, it's impossible to deny the success of the iPad or the iPhone (or even the iPod touch) considering the number of units sold, but it's also hard to ignore the fact that these are all significantly cheaper than the price of the cheapest Apple computer. Throw in the fact that smartphones are on a 12-month refresh cycle (as is the iPad) whereas people tend to hold on to their computers for much longer than that, and these crazy numbers start to make a little bit more sense. Just a little!