Apple Lowers Revenue Guidance for Q1 2019 Citing 'Fewer iPhone Upgrades' Than Anticipated

Apple LogoApple today published a letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed to Apple investors announcing changes to the guidance for the first fiscal quarter of 2019.

Apple is expecting revenue of approximately $84 billion and gross margin of 38 percent, which is quite a bit lower than the estimate provided in November when fourth quarter earnings were revealed.

At that time, Apple said its guidance included expected revenue of $89 to $93 billion and gross margin between 38 and 38.5 percent. From Cook's letter:

Today we are revising our guidance for Apple's fiscal 2019 first quarter, which ended on December 29. We now expect the following:
- Revenue of approximately $84 billion
- Gross margin of approximately 38 percent
- Operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion
- Other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million
- Tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items

At $84 billion, Apple will see a year-over-year revenue drop in 2019 after pulling in $88.3 billion during the first fiscal quarter of 2018.

Cook offered up a number of explanations for the decline, some of which were mentioned during the fourth quarter earnings call.

Cook says that the timing of the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR launch compared to the timing of the iPhone X launch last year will impact year-over-year comparisons, as will the strength of the U.S. dollar.

Apple Watch Series 4, iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and AirPods were constrained during the holiday season, leading to an inability to keep up with demand, as did economic weakness in emerging markets played a major role in the guidance change.

Cook says that customers taking advantage of "significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements" is also a factor that led to fewer upgrades in 2018. Starting in January 2018, Apple began offering battery replacements for $29 after a snafu that saw the company quietly introducing software that throttled the iPhone's performance without letting customers know. Apple faced multiple accusations that it deliberately slows down iPhones to encourage people to buy new devices, and while that may not be the case, offering cheaper battery replacements does appear to have impacted sales of new devices.

In China specifically, Apple saw a significant decline in sales, especially during the second half of 2018, which Cook says was in part due to rising trade tensions with the United States.

While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China. In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad.

Cook says that Apple saw "fewer iPhone upgrades" than anticipated as a result of the aforementioned factors, requiring the company to lower its expected revenue estimates.

Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and for much more than our entire year-over-year revenue decline. In fact, categories outside of iPhone (Services, Mac, iPad, Wearables/Home/Accessories) combined to grow almost 19 percent year-over-year.

While Greater China and other emerging markets accounted for the vast majority of the year-over-year iPhone revenue decline, in some developed markets, iPhone upgrades also were not as strong as we thought they would be. While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, US dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.

At the end of his letter, Cook highlights positive results from the December quarter, such as a growth in active devices, and increased revenue outside of the iPhone business in areas that include services and wearables. Apple, says Cook, is confident in its business and the "pipeline of future products and services."

vMost importantly, we are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services. Apple innovates like no other company on earth, and we are not taking our foot off the gas.

We can't change macroeconomic conditions, but we are undertaking and accelerating other initiatives to improve our results. One such initiative is making it simple to trade in a phone in our stores, finance the purchase over time, and get help transferring data from the current to the new phone. This is not only great for the environment, it is great for the customer, as their existing phone acts as a subsidy for their new phone, and it is great for developers, as it can help grow our installed base.

This is one of a number of steps we are taking to respond. We can make these adjustments because Apple's strength is in our resilience, the talent and creativity of our team, and the deeply held passion for the work we do every day.

Expectations are high for Apple because they should be. We are committed to exceeding those expectations every day.

Cook's full letter to investors can be read on Apple's Newsroom site.

Update: Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for an exclusive interview with CNBC, where he further explained the guidance revision. He said the shortfall is over 100 percent from iPhone and primarily from Greater China due to a slowing economy during the second half of 2018.

Cook says trade tensions with the U.S. put additional pressure on the Chinese economy, leading to less traffic in stores and lower sales. Cook also blamed fewer carrier subsidies, a stronger dollar, and the $29 battery replacement program, suggesting that those factors led to fewer iPhone upgrades than expected. Going forward, Cook says Apple will focus "really deeply" on things it can control, boosting future sales through trade-in program marketing, monthly pricing options, and more focus on in-store services such as data transfer.

Top Rated Comments

Enclavean Avatar
28 months ago
Tim gonna blame everything except for the high prices lol
Score: 148 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sinsin07 Avatar
28 months ago
Simple
Lower prices
$1500 iPhones
$1800 IPads
Not rocket science

Tim wanted to test what the market could bear.
Now the bear is bitting back.

Tim fell into his own Reality Distortion Field.

UPDATE:
55 billion dollars wiped out in 1 afternoon due to hubris.
Score: 127 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MTW Avatar
28 months ago
Good. Time for Tim to stop the grift. Price products appropriately. Customers first, not shareholders. A return to the days of a 30% 'Apple Tax' (as opposed to whatever eye-watering number it is at now) is long overdue.
Score: 109 Votes (Like | Disagree)
trifid Avatar
28 months ago
Steve Jobs predicted this:

they cared about making a lot of money… they got very greedy and instead of following the original trajectory of the original vision which was to make this thing an appliance and get this out there to as many people as possible, they went for profits, and they made outlandish profits for about 4 years, one of the most profitable companies in America for 4 years, and what that cost them was their future, because what they should have been doing was making rational profits…”

Starts at minute 38:00:

Score: 102 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Eriamjh1138@DAN Avatar
28 months ago
My iphone7 plus is going for three years instead of upgrading after 2 because price.

Also, it’s a damn nice phone.

Edit: Jet Black, btw. (Thanks for the likes!)
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mlrproducts Avatar
28 months ago
Let's see:

2007 - iPhone is $399 (after initial flub)
2019 - that would be $487 with inflation - where is my $499 flagship phone? (which honestly should still be $399 as tech gets cheaper, certainly storage is)
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...