Apple Inc. reported strong iPhone sales and downloads of its new mobile operating system Monday, but didn’t comment on weekend reports that CEO Steve Jobs had a liver transplant two months ago.
In a press release announcing it sold 1 million on the new 3G S since they went on sale Friday, Apple included a quote from Jobs: “Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning. With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday night that Jobs, who is expected back from extended medical leave this month, underwent a liver transplant two months ago in Tennessee. The paper cited unnamed sources.
Reports on the health of the 54-year-old CEO sent the stock down sharply at the beginning of the year, dropping shares to a 52-week low of $78.20. The company’s stock has rebounded since then, however, closing up nearly 80 percent from those lows on Friday at $139.48.
The Journal reported there is speculation that Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who has run Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in Jobs’ absence, would continue in a more prominent role at the company. Some analysts have said that would help insulate the stock more from gyrations related to Jobs’ health it has seen in the past.
The sales that the company announced for its newest generation of the iPhone were higher than those estimated by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Munster figured there were 750,000 iPhones sold since Friday, 50 percent above his initial projection but well below the 1 million 3G versions sold on the launch weekend of the previous generation last year.
Munster said that of the 256 customers his group surveyed over the weekend, 28 percent were switching carriers to AT&T. That’s down from 38 who were new to exclusive U.S. service provider AT&T (NYSE: T) last year and 52 percent in 2007. More than half (56 percent) were upgrading their old iPhone, compared to 38 percent last year.