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This afternoon, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) reported $7.79 in per-share earnings and $28.57 billion in revenue for the fiscal third quarter. Analysts had been calling for $5.80 and $24.92 billion, respectively. Only Steve Jobs could make pundits look this silly.

And that's not even the most embarrassing part. With almost everyone calling for strong but not outrageous handset sales ahead of the release of the iPhone 5 this fall -- 15 million to 17 million, specifically -- Apple sold more than 20 million of the devices. Somebody call Ashton Kutcher. Wall Street just got punked. Again.

Some other facts about the rapidly expanding iEmpire from the Q3 report:

  1. Mac unit sales rose 14% while revenue improved 16%. All told, Apple sold $5 billion worth of computer hardware in Q3.
  2. While Android tabs from Samsung and Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) struggle to give consumers the on-demand video they crave, Apple sold 9.5 million iPads.
  3. With more than $75 billion in cash and short- and long-term investments on its balance sheet, Apple now has the fiscal heft of a small Caribbean dictatorship. All that's missing are the communism, cigars, and first-rate Major League pitching prospects.

How difficult it must be to work at Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), or any Apple peer right now. For all the talk of viable alternatives to its iDevices, the numbers suggest that consumers are having none of it. They're hooked on iCandy, and delivering sweet profits to Apple and its investors as a result.

Will they keep buying? Will you buy shares? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to tell us whether you've boarded the iBandwagon. You can also add Apple to your watchlist for up-to-date analysis on the stock as soon as it's published.

Fool contributorTim Beyers is a member of theMotley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim'sportfolio holdings andFoolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insightsdelivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.