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Apple forecasts strong Q4 on back of robust iPhone growth

Mac, smartphone growth rampant, but iPad shipments shrink for third straight quarter

Apple forecasts strong Q4 on back of robust iPhone growth

Apple Inc's revenue forecast for the fourth quarter exceeded those of analysts after the Cupertino company recorded better-than-expected growth in iPhone sales and became a top-five PC vendor, according to IDC figures.

According to a report from Reuters, the company yesterday predicted a revenue range of $63.5bn to $66.5bn in Q4, armed with fresh lines of smartphones and tablets to compete with Samsung, Amazon and Microsoft.

Sales of iPhones surprised Apple and industry commentators alike, with handset sales surging 16%, but the firm's iPads showed continued quarterly (for the third straight quarter) and yearly sales declines of 7% and 13% respectively, as evidence of a saturated worldwide tablet market continued to mount. Some analysts see Apple's alliance with IBM Corp as a means to stymie the ebb in tablet revenue, by targeting enterprise customers with device solutions centred on iPads and iPhones.

Strong pre-orders and sales for the iPhone 6 range, which included Apple's first large-screen handset, contributed to a 12.2% jump in Q3 revenue to $42.12bn, surpassing the approximate $39.9bn average forecast by analysts.

Apple has yet to release its Watch to the public, with a commercial release expected in the first quarter of next year. The generally warm reception the device received at launch may indicate another segment-defining move for Apple, but Microsoft is strongly tipped to introduce a cross-platform wristwatch in time for the holiday season.

Apple stock was up 1.3% to about $101.10 in after-hours trading.

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