Herb Greenberg Offers His Apple Reality Check

Most analysts are pleased with the numbers Apple reported during its third quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday, but Herb Greenberg writing for MarketWatch doesnit think the Mac maker deserves all of the praise it is getting. While Mac sales showed a 12 percent year-over-year gain, and operating margins climbed, iPod sales were slightly down, and thatis what he is focusing on.

He says "So, whatis not to like [about the earnings report]? Plenty, especially when you consider that iPod unit sales, from a quarter ago, tumbled 5% -- the second straight quarter of declines."

iPod sales are down for the second quarter in a row, and iPod revenue was down 13 percent. Compared to last year, however, iPod sales are up - 32 percent, in fact, compared to the same quarter last year.

Two consecutive quarters of declining sales may indicate that consumers are starting to lose interest in the iPod. But they may also be caused by holdouts waiting for Apple to release a new model. So far, Apple hasnit refreshed the iPod product line at all this year.

If Apple does release new iPod models this year, that two-quarter decline is likely to disappear as fast as new iPods off the Apple Store shelves.