The numbers are in: The iPod phenomenon got even bigger over the holidays.
Apple Computer Inc. sold 14 million of the music players in the last quarter of 2005, chief executive Steve Jobs said yesterday.
"We've now sold over 42 million iPods," he said in his opening speech at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Jobs also introduced the first iMac computers with new Intel Corp. processors that he said would make them two to three times as fast as previous desktop units.
The iPod sales numbers beat the expectations of industry analysts. "They surprised all of us," said Tim Bajarin, president of tech consulting and research company Creative Strategies Inc. Bajarin's company had predicted Apple would sell 12.5 million iPods in the fourth quarter.
The iPod's popularity helped account for Apple's $5.7 billion in sales for those three months -- $1 billion of which occurred in the company's chain of 135 retail stores. Jobs also said the iTunes Music Store has now sold 850 million copies of songs and has 83 percent of the online music sales market.
Apple is scheduled to report financial results for the quarter on Jan. 18.
Jobs said the company sold 1.25 million computers in the same quarter. That figure is somewhat flat for Apple, Bajarin said, but that could be because many Mac users held off from buying new machines until the machines using Intel chips are available.
Apple's personal-computer market share has been under 5 percent for several years, although industry analysts have predicted that the security concerns that continue to trouble Microsoft Windows users will encourage more consumers to switch to Apple's line of computers.
Shares of Apple closed up $4.81, or 6.3 percent, at $80.86 on the Nasdaq. Earlier in the day, shares set a new 52-week high of $81.89. Year to date, shares are up 12.5 percent from the Dec. 30 closing price of $71.89. In recent aftermarket activity, Apple was trading up an additional 31 cents.