Apples were tasty and music was in the air during the week that was. Let's take a closer look.

An Apple a day keeps the bears away
It's hard not to like Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL). Even as companies such as Dell Computer (NASDAQ:DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) lapped Apple in personal-computer sales, Apple always had style. Sure, its machines went unloved for quite a while, but they looked like art and packed a powerful wallop. That's why it's great to see that the market has rewarded Apple's penchant for quality -- even if it is the result of the iPod revolution.

Apple's sales soared by 75% this past quarter. Earnings per share? Up a staggering 363%. One can always quibble over a spike in inventory levels, which more than doubled the company's heady top-line growth. But that still shouldn't take away from this amazing story, in which a country's fascination with a digital music device has renewed the consumer's appetite for all things Apple.

Enthusiasts of Apple may argue that the public would have been enamored with the latest line of Macintosh computers anyway. But let's be honest: Mac unit sales rose by 35%, but a lot of that street cred comes from also selling 6 million more iPods this past quarter.

The company's guidance for the current quarter suggests flat to weakening sequential performance during the current quarter. That shouldn't be alarming. It's coming on the heels of a blowout quarter. Plus, if you can keep a secret, Apple's been getting into this habit of putting out lowball targets lately. I'd be shocked if the company isn't able to obliterate its latest batch of projection posturing, just as it has over the past few quarters.

You don't need one of those 6 million iPods to check out some tunes online
If you miss the days when MTV used to play music, will you come to miss the days when free websites didn't? Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online subsidiary is teaming up with XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) and AEG to produce live -- and, for now, free -- music content online.

It's all part of the new that's beefing up its heavily trafficked domain to take advantage of a plethora of online advertising opportunities that are springing up. With its flagship service's subscriber base waning in recent years, America Online is trying to galvanize its captive audience -- while the audience is still there to be galvanized.

Still, America Online has had no problem stripping its subscribers of an effective newsgroup reader and speedy, moderated discussion boards in recent months. But that's all part of the process of migrating many of its services to the broader World Wide Web, where anyone can access them, including those who have defected from AOL over the years. Yes, improvement in the company's spam-control and virus-battling features have helped strengthen the value of maintaining that ISP subscription, but it's clear where is heading these days.

Ads and license fees will fuel the 24-hour music platform. XM and Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) are already hosting rising artists in their radio studios and on the road, so the content acquisition will be a breeze. And XM is likely to grow its own brand appeal.

What do XM, Time Warner, and AEG plan to do once they have music aficionados just where they want them? The options are tasty. This is, after all, only the opening act.

The headlines behind this week's stories:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Time Warner and Dell Computer are both recommendations of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter.

Fool contributor Rick Munarriz likes streaming music online, and he is a satellite radio subscriber. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, though. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.