When Apple released its last earnings report, CEO Tim Cook declared that rumors about this year’s iPhone (referred to by most as the iPhone 8) were having a negative impact on unit numbers. However, that may not have been entirely accurate.
A “pause” due to the iPhone 8?
Forbes contributor Chuck Jones crunched the numbers and discovered that nothing much out of the ordinary may actually by occurring in terms of unit numbers for the iPhone during the June quarter. That’s in spite of Cook’s claim that they had observed what they thought was “a pause in purchases on iPhone,” which he blamed on the continuing rumors about the high and mighty iPhone 8.
Jones notes that every year there are rumors about what the next iPhone will bring, and every year, those rumors have some impact on sales of the current models. He also stated that this year it seems as if rumors about the iPhone 8 are more rampant than rumors about previous models in past years. Of course, isn’t this how it seems every year?
In reality, what’s different this year may be the level of analyst hype about the tenth anniversary model, which has undoubtedly reached new heights this year. After all, as long as Apple keeps churning out new iPhones every year, the rumor mill will spin new stories to appease the masses. As such, it’s probably less about the number of rumors and more about how analysts have vastly raised expectations for the iPhone 8.
Crunching the numbers
At any rate, Jones made an interesting observation when he tracked iPhone unit numbers over the last several years and compared them with this year. The general view for this year’s iPhone cycle has been to compare it with the iPhone 6 cycle, which is understandable because analysts also spent a good bit of their day hyping it as well because it was the first iPhone with a bigger display. It also seems that all the hype this year is to a greater extreme than it was ahead of the iPhone 6 cycle, although anyone can debate this given that it’s a qualitative rather than a quantitative issue.
Heading into the iPhone 6 launch, the general view was to hold off until the new models were announced, and Jones was one of those who did. This suggests that the iPhone 6 cycle is the closest comparison to the iPhone 8 when trying to gauge the effect of consumers holding off on purchases until the next model comes out.
Apple may be just trying to make investors feel better
According to Jones, Apple recorded a 19% quarter over quarter decline from March to June in 2012, a 13% decline in 2013, and a 19% decline in 2014. In 2015, the year of the iPhone 6, the sequential decline was 20%, while for the iPhone 6s last year, the decline was 14%. However, he also points out that the first quarter the iPhone SE became available was in last year’s June quarter, which helped give Apple’s sales a boost then.
He adds that Apple management guided for $43.5 billion to $45.5 billion in sales for this year’s June quarter, which he estimates means about 39 million to 42 million iPhones. Wall Street’s consensus stands at $44.9 billion, which would be approximately 41 million iPhones. Looking at that and assuming no changes in inventory, the decline would be 19% from the 50.76 million iPhones Apple sold in the March quarter or a 21% decline from the inventory-adjusted sales of 51.96 million during the March quarter.
Based on all these numbers, a sequential decline of 19% to 21% would certainly not be out of the ordinary, he concludes. As such, he feels that Cook may simply have been trying to calm investors down.