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Apple is in the middle of a supercycle for everything it sells, and the Mac and iPad are on a tear

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple laughs while Lana Del Rey (with iPad) takes a photo during a launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 30, 2018 in New York City.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

Apple reported another blowout quarter Wednesday, showing 54% revenue growth and authorizing a mind-melting $90 billion share buyback.

But while we usually spend each quarter talking about the performance of Apple’s iPhone and Services segments, it’s impossible to ignore the insane growth the company reported for Mac computers and iPads.

Apple isn’t just in the middle of a new iPhone supercycle of sales. It’s in the middle of a supercycle for everything.

Just take a look at the Mac and iPad segments’ performance during Apple’s fiscal second quarter:

  • Mac revenue: $9.10 billion, up 70.1% year-over-year
  • iPad revenue: $7.80 billion, up 78.9% year-over-year

Those are just wild numbers for two product categories that had been languishing for the last few years. Before 2020, the story behind the Mac was that Apple had put its PC development on the backburner in favor of focusing on its profit engine: the iPhone.

But that started to change last year with the perfect storm for Apple’s Mac and iPad sales growth: the launch of Apple’s own computer chip, the M1, and the spike in demand for devices to help people work from home.

While the pandemic part of the equation is obvious, Apple also said the M1 played a role in the sales boom. On the company’s earnings call Wednesday, CEO Tim Cook credited the M1 chip for fueling the growth, especially after Apple proved it can perform just as well or better than the Intel chips it used to use for computers.

Apple also just added the M1 to its new iPad Pro model, which goes on sale Friday and ships in May. That gives the iPad the same power as the Mac. Apple executives told TechCrunch this week that they hope adding all that power to the iPad will spur a new wave of software development to make the device much more useful for productivity tasks. If that works, the iPad Pro will be a viable alternative for people who want to use a tablet instead of a traditional laptop.

And there are more reasons to be optimistic about the Mac later this year, when Apple will reportedly redesign its Mac laptops and potentially use the next version of its M-series chip in them.

There’s just one caveat to all this optimism around the Mac and iPad: the chip shortage.

Cook and his team admitted on the earnings call Wednesday that there could be supply constraints for some components needed for Apple’s gadgets. But they sounded optimistic they’ll be able to work through the issues.

And don’t forget: Cook made his name in the business world as a supply chain and logistics genius.

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