Apple lost iPhone business amid 5G smartphone launches by rivals

Apple on Wednesday forecast $85.5 billion to $89.5 billion in sales for its fiscal first quarter that ends in December.
Apple storeApple said its revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter was $64.04 billion. Apple did not reveal the number of iPhones sold during its fourth quarter. Strategy Analytics in its report said Apple shipped 45.6 million iPhones as compared with 46.9 million units in the same period previous year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that new iPhone 11 models were off to “a very, very good start” as sales of AirPods, Apple Watches and streaming services continue to rise.

Apple iPhone shipments fell 3 percent from 46.9 million units in Q3 2018 to 45.6 million in Q3 2019. “Despite the decline, this was actually Apple’s best growth performance since last year. Apple is stabilizing, due to cheaper iPhone 11 pricing and healthier demand across Asia and the United States,” Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, said.

Apple expects to ship at least 80 million of the new 5G iPhones, Nikkei reported one day before the financial results. The 5G iPhone series will be made up of three different models, which will carry a 5G modem chip from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm and Apple settled their patent dispute in April, which was an important move for Apple to accelerate into 5G hardware. 5G iPhones could add a boost to Apple’s iPhone sales, analysts say. A recent Piper Jaffray survey found that current U.S. iPhone users may be holding out on the newly-released iPhone 11 series, anticipating an upcoming 5G phone from Apple.

Tim Cook said he anticipated strong sales of services and wearables, as well as promising early sales for the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max released last month, Reuters reported. Cook said the forecast also reflects the company’s belief that the United States and China will resolve their trade dispute.

The forecast comes as Apple said it generated $33.36 billion in iPhone sales for its fiscal fourth quarter ended in September.

The results mark the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year declining iPhone sales as the Cupertino, California-based company tries to shift its business away from reliance on the flagship product and toward a broader product mix.

The company in September unveiled a new iPhone 11 priced at $699, $50 lower than the debut price of its predecessor, the iPhone XR.

“The starting price of $699 is a factor in bringing more people into the market and giving people just another reason to upgrade,” Cook told Reuters. “In China specifically … we picked locally relevant price points that were more similar to the price points that had great success with earlier.”

Apple’s revenue is increasingly coming from accessories such as the Apple Watch and AirPods as well as new services such as its Apple Card credit card and a streaming television service set to begin on Friday.

Customers will be able to buy iPhones using the Apple Card with no interest for 24 months, Cook said on the conference call.

Apple said its services and accessories segments generated $12.51 billion and $6.52 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, respectively. Apple now has 450 million subscribers to its own or third-party services on its devices, and sales of wearables were up 54 percent versus the previous year.

Apple earlier this year lowered iPhone prices in China, which had risen beyond the reach of many buyers there because of currency fluctuations. The move helped slow mid-year sales declines for Apple in China, and Apple sales for its Greater China region dropped a relatively modest 2.4 percent to $11.13 billion in Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter.

Apple’s Cook said that iPhone sales in China ticked up toward the end of the quarter, which includes several days of sales of the new iPhone 11 models. Cook also said the company saw double-digit services revenue growth in China and wearables revenue in China grew at a higher rate than the companywide figure.