Earlier today I flagged Steve Jobs' optimism regarding Apple's current fortunes. Very well-justified optimism, it turns out: After the market closed today Apple posted its financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter, and among the many happy numbers -- profits of $904 million, up 67 percent from the same time last year -- was this amazing one: 2.2 million. That's the quantity of Macs Apple sold during the quarter, beating its previous record quarter by 400,000.
About 800,000 of the machines were desktops, and about 1.4 million were laptops. The number cements Apple's status as a computer-sales powerhouse. Though it still trails Dell (5 million sold in the quarter) and H.P. (4.3 million), Apple's sales are growing far faster than those of the Windows PC market.
The iPhone proved to be no laggard either. Apple said it sold 1.2 million units in the quarter, bringing sales of the device since its debut to 1.4 million.
IPods keep ticking too. The company put out 10 million in the quarter, an increase of 17 percent over the same period last year; the numbers include few units of the priciest model, the iPod Touch, which went on sale just a few days before the quarter ended in September.
Preemptive defense: Every time I report Apple finances, haters pop in to letters to argue that because I don't usually report other companies' numbers I must be biased.
But this is not a case of mindless Apple polishing. There is a real story here: By binding its hardware and software -- its OS and its machines -- Apple chose long ago to part ways with the rest of the industry. For years, that model looked doomed to fail. The Windows hegemony looked unbeatable.
To be sure, nothing in today's numbers signals the end of Windows. But that a company can not only survive but thrive without buying into the Redmond model of development, that's now obvious. These numbers prove it.
It's a big story. And if Jobs keeps doing what he's doing, it'll get bigger still every quarter.