back to article Apple: iPhone sales are down (but they've never been more lucrative)

Apple on Thursday touted its highest-grossing quarter ever, even as iPhone and Mac shipments were down. CEO Tim Cook made a point of singling out strong iPhone X and iPad sales, while glossing over slowed Mac sales. For the quarter ending December 30, Apple's first of its fiscal 2018: Revenues of $88.2bn beat out analyst …

  1. Mayday Silver badge
    Gimp

    Slowing Mac Sales?

    Well considering there hasn't been a lower end* or a higher end computer (Mac Mini/Mac Pro respectively) for about 3 years and still try to sell them at "modern" prices could be a reason why.

    Also consider how hard it is to upgrade the any of the current line when the time may come.

    *I'm looking forward to a new Mac Mini myself. Be fscked if I'm spending that much on a 3+ year old computer now though.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Slowing Mac Sales?

      There is. The Mac Pro that this time, really IS for Pros. And it's worthwhile noting not only Linus' shock at learning the price... (first link) ... but also the fact that despite them wanting to pay for repair and agreeing the price... Apple wouldn't repair it !!! (second link)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUiIisJqt1g

      https://youtu.be/S0A8Lq1DVvI?t=55m10s

    2. Craig McGill 1

      Re: Slowing Mac Sales?

      This is either a problem for Apple or where they want the company to go. We've three iPhone users in the house all wanting to upgrade but won't pay the crazy prices for the existing ones and the SE is too out of date for the money, so we're holding off.

      Equally, the lack of an afforable MacBook saw us go to another OS.

      I think the pricing going up suits Apple just nicely but I suspect we'll (over time) see a rerun of the 90s with them because while the pricing element will suit a considerable part of the market, when you add in the fact that they seem to be making their walled garden more locked-in, I think they're making a bad move. Be expensive, yes, but let me use other companies' products with my Apple gear (the lock-in on their new Siri speaker is just daft).

      1. johnnyblaze

        Re: Slowing Mac Sales?

        then why don't you look elsewhere, for something non-Apple if you don't like Apple's prices. There's plenty of choice. You know, that thing we take for granted when you can pick and chose what you want. Oh yeah, I forgot, Apple have brainwashed the word 'choice' out of iPhone owners minds.

      2. Blotto Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: Slowing Mac Sales?

        i suspect all their future machines powered by their own ARM cpu's will offer more value than the Intel equivalent and likely have more grunt, maybe not overall geekbench numbers, but maybe more useful compute despite perhaps being down on raw single thread benchmark results. Apple have always sought to be different, moving on from Intel will give them their edge back, and they may be too far ahead of the curve for the likes of Samsung & Microsoft to catch up giving a generous head start on what ever new platform they introduce.

        we need a crystal ball icon.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still own an iPhone 6 plus

    So in my small way I am contributing to all this. Should I feel proud? Guilty?

    1. Packet

      Re: I still own an iPhone 6 plus

      thought about getting the battery replaced for the low promo price while you still can?

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I still own an iPhone 6 plus @packet

        "thought about getting the battery replaced for the low promo price while you still can?"

        I tried that with my iPhone 6 (nonplus). It was a scam.

        I had noticed earlier that the phone had become much slower when I upgraded to IOS11. People scoffed at the notion - before the deliberate slowdown was to become public knowledge...

        Anyway, I called Apple helpdesk and the helpful and knowledgeable (really!) guy told that I am eligible for the €29 battery replacement program even though the remote diagnostics said that the battery wasn't too much worn. He directed me to the only authorised Apple reseller around where I live, which I promptly called only to hear that the price would be €49... Apparently Apple advertises this €29 replacement program but no-one here in Finland swaps even no-name batteries at those rates. I asked a few further questions and yes, they would have swapped in an Apple approved battery and no, Apple doesn't sponsor either the labor or the part.

        Since the reseller tech said that the phone would be ready a day after I brought in the phone I went to the nearest mall where a small shop replaced the battery for €49 in half an hour or so.

        And yes, the phone became about as responsive as it was before IOS 11 and the battery lasts longer than it did before.

    2. Dominion

      Re: I still own an iPhone 6 plus

      Show off! I still own a 5S. Can't see any reason to replace it at the moment. I am thinking about getting an SE for when my 5S inevitably fails.

    3. Stephen McLaughlin

      Re: I still own an iPhone 6 plus

      I was thinking the same thing. I've had my iPhone 6+ for over 3 years but it is still an exceptional phone and I don't see a reason to upgrade. (Plus I'm sorta old-school where I like to have a headphone jack.)

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    "it won't be adding many new features to iOS 12, apparently: that next major release will be mainly stability fixes and bug squashing"

    Same Ole, same ole Apple.

    It will be interesting to see their next few quarters. I get the feeling that things will see a slip in performance.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Selling fewer phones, making more profit.

    The iPhone set must feel so proud to be helping poor, poor Apple stay out of debtors prison.

    1. Blotto Bronze badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Selling fewer phones, making more profit.

      so you'd rather they acted more like Carillion and go bust than themselves who are successfully selling new products every quarter and generating more revenues even though they sold less than last year?

      Some people really don't think things through before they come out with them. I'm sure every other tech company would do anything to have apples problem of declining sales yet increasing revenues. Its like you don't think the highly paid people at Apple who knew this before the announcement don't already have some strategy to manage this.

    2. Oh Homer
      Holmes

      Re: Selling fewer phones, making more profit.

      Well it doesn't take an Apple Genius® to figure out that Apple must therefore be gouging its cult members customers harder than ever.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    it's a neat trick if it works

    Build less, charge more.

    I also wonder if they're giving up on Mac since the OS code quality lately had somewhat fallen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it's a neat trick if it works

      It works short-term, it may be very hard to make it work long-term. After all, the iPhone X is more known for its price than its features...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less dumb fanboys

    Prepared to spunk a grand on a five hundred quid phone just because they think it makes them look cool (my builder with his badly fitting butt crack jeans has an iPhone, is he cool too???)

    If you really think iPhone isn't just a fashion statement, ask yourself this, why do pretty much all iPhone cases have a hole in the back so the fruity logo remains visible... Yup, that's it only purpose, to appease people that care that other people know brand of phone you own...

    1. The Bit Wrangler
      Headmaster

      Re: Less dumb fanboys

      * fewer

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Less dumb fanboys

      just because they think it makes them look cool (my builder with his badly fitting butt crack jeans has an iPhone, is he cool too???)

      The reason that I have one is because the alternative is so damn awful to contemplate. I'm not that keen on iOS but at least it's not Android. I really do wish a decent alternative to iOS would appear and I'd dump iPhones in instant. But all we are offered is that shit. Mine's a 7 and cost £277 SIM free. Much less than some Samsung, or Google Pixel phones which in turn cost less than a 10 a day cigarette habit.

      why do pretty much all iPhone cases have a hole in the back so the fruity logo remains visible... Yup, that's it only purpose, to appease people that care that other people know brand of phone you own.

      "Pretty much all" ? Mine doesn't. Type iPhone case into a google image search and see for yourself.

      Cognitive bias. It's just a phone and really people should not care what phones other people buy but for some reason they do. Says more about those people.

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Less dumb fanboys

        @werdsmith

        "It's just a phone and really people should not care what phones other people buy but for some reason they do."

        While I don't disagree in general, it is fair to say that a lot of iPhone users do care whether other people care about what phone they buy.

        I really don't encounter evangelism of a brand quite like that from those that favour Apple.

        Start a thread on any discussion board you like titled something like "I'm after a new Android phone, what should I buy?" there will be within the first few replies a "buy an iphone!" type response.

        1. Captain Queeg

          Re: Less dumb fanboys

          "Start a thread on any discussion board you like titled something like "I'm after a new Android phone, what should I buy?" there will be within the first few replies a "buy an iphone!" type response."

          To be fair that's very much a 2 way street. Like Wargames the only way to win, is not to ask the question...

        2. Philippe

          Re: fewer dumb fanboys

          Start a thread on any discussion board you like titled something like "I'm after a new Android phone, what should I buy?" there will be within the first few replies a "buy an iPhone!" type response.

          I am not sure this prove or disprove anything.

          Start a thread on any discussion board you like titled something like "I'm after a new iPhone, what should I buy?" there will be within the first few replies a "buy an Android!" type response.

          Some people like to advertise what they use, other don't, and many don't care either way.

          At the end of the day people should be free to spend money on whatever they want or like without having to deal with snarky comments. The poster above was right, it says more about the people who criticise than the ones being criticised.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Less dumb fanboys

        "I really do wish a decent alternative to iOS would appear"

        There was an alternative, and its interface was better, but because it was different, most didn't want to try. Also due to idiotic management of it through its iterations caused its demise. Guess which phone OS that was.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Less dumb fanboys

          You can take your pick, superciliousness from iPhone evangelists or sanctimony from Android wankers.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Less dumb fanboys

        So precisely what is wrong with android??

        I have a pixel2 and its superb. I think you may have confused the Android based thing that Samsung put on their phones with Android. Easy mistake to make it you are a moron.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    To be honest, I'd be really worried about that.

    You're selling LESS THINGS.

    Making MORE MONEY.

    Which means those things you sell are either cheaper for you to make than before, or you're selling them for higher prices than before.

    Either way, you're screwing your customers harder for the same product, when you could quite easily reduce prices or reinvest it. That would rile me, if I'd ever purchased a single Apple product in my entire life (I manage thousands... but I don't purchase them, and never would for personal use... and even the ones I manage we're phasing out because of an entire series of Apple support stupidity incidents where they literally couldn't care less about our business).

    And even I notice a trend in bad quality updates (iOS on iPad now takes several revisions to "get right" every time something goes wrong, MacOS is being phased out entirely, etc.) and culling of hardware lines of late.

    Here's hoping the trend continues until people realise they've bought an empty box for $2000 and start a revolt.

    1. Wilseus

      "Here's hoping the trend continues until people realise they've bought an empty box for $2000 and start a revolt."

      It's already stating to happen. My brother, a die hard Apple enthusiast has bought his last iPhone as he is fed up with their bullshit. The lack of the headphone socket was the last straw for him, but that was the last in a long line of things. He uses a midrange Android now.

      Several other people I know have done the same thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's hoping the trend continues until people realise they've bought an empty box for $2000 and start a revolt.

      Why? I see no sense in buying an Apple device, and spent £160 on my current phone, but if Apple customers can't think of a better use for the Apple tax, it is their choice. And lets face it, the Android universe has its share of pillocks, notably those shelling out Apple-money for a Samsung S8, a Pixel 2XL and the like. And it isn't a problem for Apple because the numbers are (so far) clear, that Apple users are largely impervious to the fact that they are being reamed out, and still put shiney ahead of good value. It's interesting to dwell for a moment on that term "shiney" - for millennia, rich humans have been attracted to jewellery with little or no function, made of rare metals and stones, usually traded by the very rich from very rich materials suppliers to rich buyers. You could make stronger, lighter, often more durable jewellery from cheaper and more readily available materials, but the very point of the purchase is to spend more than is needed on things with some limits on availability or affordability. That's the same for iPhone X buyers.

      The great thing about these people is that it is their money paying to trial ideas that (if they work) will trickle down to the sort of phones I buy. And if those innovations don't work or aren't popular, I won;t have to put up with them. So come along Apple customers, keep buying the shiney, I'm depending upon you!

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Apple are a designer brand.

        Note that this has nothing to do with actual "design" (don't get me started down that path with Apple products).

        People pay to have the Apple name. Same as Beats headphones, Nike trainers or Calvin Klein underwear.

        I'm under no illusion that that is what's happening, and neither (I suspect) are most Apple buyers. But it's something that would drive me insane if a company that I actually used did so.

        But, to be honest, I have never once cared about designer brands, chosen a brand "just because it's that brand" (though by chance I have a number of Samsung devices - printers, TVs and phones - that I'm very happy with, none of them big-name items or expensive smart things) or any celebrity endorsement, or even "what other people have".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Select, copy and paste - is so broken in iOS

    iOS needs an intelligent 'AI' tracing paper layer that can allow you to circle, select and copy and paste text and graphics, from any screen image/web page, independently from the layout, that prevent certain text selections.

    Current text selection, copy and paste is so broken Apple, it's embarassing.

    Get rid of the Safari, 8 line suggestion box that covers the whole page, along with the keyboard, so it's possible to type say a model number shown on a web page into Google (when iOS's text selection/copy doesn't work) without having to do it from memory, because it get's covered by suggestions that aren't relevant.

    Sort out the selection (blue dots), to prevent scrolling windows within windows, as you attempt to select.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Select, copy and paste - is so broken in iOS

      It really is isn’t it?

  9. DougS Silver badge

    Missed the most important announcement for investors

    They plan to become net cash neutral (i.e. only hold enough cash to match their outstanding debt, as they pay that down and of course they'll no longer have a reason to issue new debt)

    That's big news for investors, while the "buy Netflix" idiots will still hold out hope of a big acquisition, the way it was stated implies it will be capital return in the form of buybacks and dividends. Net their debt and tax bill, that means $150 billion going back to stockholders.

  10. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Numbers in detail

    New flagship only moves the numbers slightly but manages to cover over a decline in sales. Well done Apple for shifting so many units with such a high margin but in the handset area growth is less impressive than a few years ago. In other words, I-Phone users are renewing their phones less often.

    The real bright spots are the expensive hand jobs and the I-Tunes stuff. Expect more of this in the future.

    Expect the stupid notch to go in the next version of the Apple Galaxy.

  11. Toilet Duk

    Ditched my iPhone after my 6 Plus just bricked and my replacement slowed to a crawl. I bought a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Android phone for just over £100 on Banggood and it's excellent.

  12. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Am I the only one that thinks that the header pic is Tim channelling Alan Alda in MASH?

    1. John Bailey

      Only if Alan Alda is Lilly Savage in disguise.

  13. David Lawton

    iPhone sales are NOT down like the article says, the same quarter last year was 14 weeks, its 13 weeks this year and Apple sell way more than 1 million iPhones a week. But hey, nothing quite like lies in a headline to get clicks?

    Also not surprised in a slight drop in Mac sales, the whole PC/Laptop market has been in decline for years now.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Analysts know quarters with 14 weeks fell, so none of this is coming as a surprise.

      Like I've been saying since last summer, the iPhone upgrade cycle won't really start until this fall. The X was introduced late, in short supply at first, without a plus-sized companion (very important in China where huge phones of up to 7" are popular) and starting at $1000, none of which will be true this fall.

  14. Triumphantape

    I have my doubts

    Apple recently repatriated a large amount of cash, I think this has something to do with their "best quarter ever".

    1. Philippe

      Re: I have my doubts

      They stated during the call that the money repatriation will impact Q2, there was no impact for Q1

      The "best quarter ever" is due to two things 88b of sales because the average selling price of an iPhone was $796 versus $650 or so in the same quarter last year.

      They've also experienced huge growth in their "other" category. (Apple Watch, TV, Music, Itunes etc)

      1. Triumphantape

        Re: I have my doubts

        Nothing Apple states rings true to me.

  15. MJI Silver badge

    Battersea Dogs Home

    Shouldn't he be there with a camera crew deciding to adopt another dog?

    It is Paul O'Grady isn't it?

  16. Joe Gurman

    Had your fun? One of the most inaccurate articles ever in The Reg

    If the writer had actually bothered to listen to Apple's earnings call, or read one of the few accurate stories online reporting it, he would have noted that the 2018Q1 to 2017Q1 comparison was 13 weeks compared with 14 weeks. Comparing like numbers of weeks (an "apples to apples" comparison? Sorry, had to), gives these sales figures:

    iPhones up by 6%

    iPads up by 8%

    Macs up by 2%

    Services (e.g. Music) up by 27%

    And revenues up by 21%.

    Think those results might have something to do with the 3.1% overnight rise in share prices? (To be fair, they're back down 2.81& so far today, with all US shares down 1 - 1.5% so far on the day.)

    But that wouldn't make a good "Failing Apple" or "Peak Apple" story, would it? You'll just have to settle for "dumb but rich Apple fanbois." What else could possibly explain people all over the world buying more expensive bling than you prefer?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Had your fun? One of the most inaccurate articles ever in The Reg

      El Reg hasn't jumped back on the 'peak Apple' train after they got fooled last time. I think they will be more cautious about declaring it again :)

      The story they wrote is basically what you see on most news reports. People don't care about the 14 versus 13 week thing - analysts already took that into account when making their estimates. Anyway, the analysts weren't unhappy about the 1% miss of their estimates for Q4 iPhone sales, given the high APRU. They were unhappy about the ~20% lower guidance for Q1 versus their overly optimistic estimates.

      They were using the intro of the iPhone 6 as their guide, which had a blowout Q4 followed by a blowout Q1, but the reason for that was because it was released late into China so most of their sales hit in Q1. Apple has got better at filling demand over the years and doesn't have to stagger the release in countries over several months like they used. Apple will never again see a Q1 that's 75% of Q4 like analysts were stupidly expecting.

  17. unwarranted triumphalism

    crApple are doomed

    It's only a matter of time before they finally go under. Those taxpayer subsidies won't last forever.

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