iPod revenue declines slightly

Apple revenue and profits continued to soar in the first quarter of the year, but for the first time in a long time, the iPod didn’t help.

While unit sales for the digital music player were up 24% from the same quarter a year ago to 10.5 million, revenue was down 1% at $1.7 billion. Decline in iPod revenue is the first since Apple started reporting it separately in mid-2003.

With growth in total device sales, the decline indicates the company is selling more iPod Nanos and Shuffles and fewer higher-priced video iPods.

Revenue from iTunes music, TV show and music sales, along with iPod accessories, was up 35% at $653 million.

Overall revenue for the company was up 21% at $5.3 billion, driven in large part by healthy growth in Apple’s computer business, especially laptops.

Net income was up 88% to $770 million.

Company is counting on a boost this summer from the June launch of the highly anticipated iPhone. It remains to be seen whether the Apple TV, which debuted late last month to mixed reviews, will have any impact on the company’s bottom line.

Along with the company’s earnings report, all six of Apple’s independent directors issued a statement supporting Steve Jobs in the flap over backdated stock options. Though the SEC is not charging the CEO with any wrongdoing, former chief financial officer Fred Anderson said Tuesday he warned Jobs about potential problems if options weren’t dated properly.

Anderson issued the statement Tuesday after reaching a settlement with the SEC in which he admitted no wrongdoing.

Former general counsel Nancy Heinen is also being charged.

“We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple’s independent investigation and in Steve’s integrity and his ability to lead Apple,” said board members Bill Campbell, Millard Drexler, Al Gore, Arthur Levinson, Eric Schmidt and Jerry York.

Apple shares rose 2% to $95.35 Wednesday before earnings were announced and the directors’ statement was released.

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