Reports from Asia last month had claimed that Apple had placed large orders for 9.5-in. to 10-in. touchscreens.
"They may not make it with a keyboard," Gottheil continued. "There was a lot of talk today by them about 'cramped keyboards.' I think it would be a mistake to make the keyboard not essential, but every company has its prejudices, and Apple is not a keyboard-friendly company."
While Mac sales slipped, sales of iPhones in the quarter surged: Apple sold 3.8 million of the smartphones, 123 percent more than the same quarter the year before. The number was significantly higher than many analysts' projections: Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech, for example, had estimated Apple would sell 3.15 million iPhones.
Cook also called out the iPod Touch as a big seller, though he declined to get specific; Traditionally, Apple does not specify how each iPod model has done. "The iPod Touch is a runaway hit," said Cook, "and clearly that's been driven by the App Store."
When asked to explain whether there were reasons Apple has stuck with AT&T as its exclusive mobile partner in the U.S. -- a question prompted by recent reports that AT&T wants to extend the deal, but that Apple may not -- Cook dodged the question. "They have done a very good job with the iPhone," he said instead. "We do not have a plan to change that."
"iPhone sales were higher than I expected," admitted Gottheil. "They're still meeting some pent-up demand outside the U.S."
As is their practice, Apple's executives today refused to comment on upcoming products, other than to repeat that they believe what they have in the pipeline is "fantastic." Most Apple watchers, however, expect that the company will roll out one or more new iPhone models this summer when Apple upgrades the operating system to iPhone 3.0.
Gottheil predicted that Apple will let the current iPhone 3G inventory draw down, as it did last year when in the weeks preceding the early-June announcement of the upgraded smartphone, Apple and AT&T exhausted their supplies.
Bottom line, said Gottheil, Apple's ability to weather the recession is impressive. "Mac users are still buying Macs," he said. "They may be getting fewer of those 'switcher' sales, but the Mac will be in a strong position when the economy recovers."