Apple CEO Tim Cook Explains Why iPhone Sales Are Declining

By Dan Anderson ● January 3, 2019

In an interview with Josh Lipton of CNBC’s Fast Money, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained some of the reasons why there has been a slowdown in iPhone sales.

Cook mostly blamed the trade tensions between the U.S. and China for weaker iPhone sales especially in the second half of 2018. And Cook also pointed out that the battery replacement program has been slowing down the upgrade cycle. Essentially consumers are waiting longer to buy new iPhones due to the battery program.

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In China, traffic in Apple’s retail stores and channel partner stores were “particularly bad in November” Cook said. And he is speculating that the metrics in December likely were not good either.

When Lipton asked Cook whether he talked to members of the Trump administration about the impact of the trade tensions, Cook said he had many discussions over the course of many months to give some sort of perspective on trade and the importance it has on the American economy. “I’m actually encouraged by what I’ve heard most recently coming from the U.S. and from China and hopefully we’ll see some changes,” Cook explained.

However, Cook threw cold water on reports suggesting that Apple is seeing a major backlash in China. The reports claimed that businesses have been boycotting Apple’s devices in retaliation to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada.

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When Cook was asked about the logic behind why Apple stopped reporting the number of units sold for the iPhone, he indicated that it has to do with the wide price range in the devices. Apple will still report the number of units sold when necessary, but does not feel it makes sense to do so every 90 days. And the company is going to provide additional disclosures such as gross margins and services businesses figures.

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