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Apple blames 17% drop in Mac sales on iMac supply constraints

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Apple on Wednesday released its earnings for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year, revealing a precipitous drop in both revenue and shipments for Macs, a sector that once made up the core of the company's business.

For the quarter ended December 31, 2012, the Mac division moved 4.1 million units, generating $5.52 billion in revenue. That figure is down from 4.9 million units and $6.62 billion for the previous quarter, and 5.2 million units and $6.6 billion in revenue year-over-year.

iMacs
Apple blamed iMac production difficulties in part for disappointing Mac sales.


Revenue from the Mac sector has continued to shrink as a proportion of Apple's overall revenue. Even as Apple's mobile offerings have thrived ? CEO Tim Cook said today the company had sold more than half a billion iOS devices ? the company's notebook and desktop segment have dropped to just 10.1 percent of overall revenue, compared to 18.4 percent for the previous quarter and 14.2 percent for the first quarter last year.

Apple's Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer attributed the Mac division's disappointing figures to constraints in the production chain of new iMacs. The company began and ended the quarter with between three and four weeks of Mac channel inventory, according to Oppenheimer, below Apple's target of four to five weeks of channel inventory.

Oppenheimer noted that market research firm IDC projected the PC market to have contracted six percent over the quarter, while Mac sales slowed by 16 percent.

Cook said there were three main factors that contributed to the decline in Mac sales performance: constraint of iMac supply; the loss of one week from the last year's 14-week first quarter; and channel inventory constraints that were down by over 100,000 units at the start of the quarter.

Commenting further on the issue, Cook reiterated the impact of iMac production issues, noting that "if you look at our portables alone, they were in line with IDC's projections of growth." Cook also pointed to the 23 million iPads Apple moved in the quarter, saying "we've always said there was some cannibalization, and I'm sure there was some cannibalization of Macs there."
post #2 of 39

Well, yeah.

 

But don't blame, just fix it. Tim doesn't strike me as a "roam the halls, threatening to fire" kind of guy, but he's also supposed to be the operations guy. Maybe they're being too kind? Who can say.

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post #3 of 39
Quote:
Cook also pointed to the 23 million iPads Apple moved in the quarter, saying "we've always said there was some cannibalization, and I'm sure there was some cannibalization of Macs there."

Well duh...

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post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Well, yeah.

 

But don't blame, just fix it. Tim doesn't strike me as a "roam the halls, threatening to fire" kind of guy, but he's also supposed to be the operations guy. Maybe they're being too kind? Who can say.

Agreed. I thought that this was Tim Cook's forte?! If they can't get their supply chain in gear, they should simply slow down product development. Better to meet demand with fewer new products than not meet it with a larger set.

 

Execute, Tim.

post #5 of 39
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Execute, Tim.

 

Yeah, that comma's really important.

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post #6 of 39

I can believe this. I'm still waiting on mine to ship :\

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post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Yeah, that comma's really important.

lol.gif

Whew.

post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Agreed. I thought that this was Tim Cook's forte?! If they can't get their supply chain in gear, they should simply slow down product development. Better to meet demand with fewer new products than not meet it with a larger set.

Execute, Tim.

If that is the case. If it's an issue specifically with new method for bonding the display and/or friction-stir welding then not updating the iMacs last year or doing just a spec bump wouldn't have impacted the other products.

Something else we need to consider are the long term uses for this new display and friction-stir welding. The iMacs probably can only sell a couple hundred thousand per month, at best, which makes it very low volume for an Apple product. Perhaps they choose the new iMac to help perfect the process for a high volume product for friction-stir welding (like the MBP or iPhone) or larger display product (like an Apple HDTV) for some future project. If either is the case then it makes sense to work this out with the iMac now.
Edited by SolipsismX - 1/23/13 at 3:26pm

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post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If that is the case. If it's an issue specifically with new method for bonding the display and/ot friction-stir welding then not updating the iMacs last year or doing just a spec bump wouldn't have impacted the other products.

Maybe, maybe not - we don't know that. It could also be related to the new screen bonding method.

However, there's a more fundamental strategic error. They stopped shipping the old one a couple of months before the new one was available. There were certainly no production problems with the old version so there was no real reason to pull it off the shelves. Continuing to sell the old one until the new one was available would have had a significant impact.

I can't imagine a single reason why they stopped selling the old one as early as they did. In most cases, they even keep selling the previous model for a while after the new ones come out.
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post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Maybe, maybe not - we don't know that. It could also be related to the new screen bonding method.

However, there's a more fundamental strategic error. They stopped shipping the old one a couple of months before the new one was available. There were certainly no production problems with the old version so there was no real reason to pull it off the shelves. Continuing to sell the old one until the new one was available would have had a significant impact.

I can't imagine a single reason why they stopped selling the old one as early as they did. In most cases, they even keep selling the previous model for a while after the new ones come out.

1) The bonding of the display was the first scenario I gave.

2) They did the same thing with the original iPhone, which isn't to say the reasons were the same. One possibility might have been to put those production lines into use with the new iMacs ASAP so they could ramp up faster knowing it was going to be a slow and arduous process to perfect. I assume they are well behind their plans for the new iMac but for all we know they are ahead of the proposed ramp up schedule.

3) Since I'm coming from a 2010 13" MBP with Core 2 Duo and dGPU I would have been perfectly fine with a 2011 27" iMac that had the SSD capability but it wasn't until last week that I first noticed the 27" back on their refurbished site.

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post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Well, yeah.

 

But don't blame, just fix it. Tim doesn't strike me as a "roam the halls, threatening to fire" kind of guy, but he's also supposed to be the operations guy. Maybe they're being too kind? Who can say.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Agreed. I thought that this was Tim Cook's forte?! If they can't get their supply chain in gear, they should simply slow down product development. Better to meet demand with fewer new products than not meet it with a larger set.

 

Execute, Tim.

 

Bear in mind that Apple is in hitherto unexplored territory. What company manufactures multiple products at such highly volumes? What company has introduced 3 products as challenging to produce as rMBP, iPhone 5 and the new emaciated iMac all in the same year, all of which to be manufactured in the millions and 10s of millions in each quarter? I am not mentioning the iPad because, presumably, neither iPad 4 nor Mini is much harder to make than iPad 3.

 

Thank goodness that it is the iMac they had trouble bringing off the assembly line and not the iPhone.

 

Regardless, we take Tim Cook and Apple for granted. But even if all the new products were not at all innovative, they have pulled off one hell of a year in manufacturing in 2012.

post #12 of 39

It is now obvious with hindsight that the new designed iMac was a generation too early. They could have left the old design for one more generation and still put in the ivy bridge, usb 3, ugraded SSD plus HDD offerings/Fusion, and faster GPU's. They would have no supply problems and they'd have been able to delivery earlier. This would have more than satisfied pretty close to 100% of users. 

post #13 of 39

*wants to buy a Mac*

 

*tries an iPad*

 

*reconsiders Mac purchase*

 

 

Now multiply that by a lot of people. That's at least *in part* responsible for recent declines in Mac sales. 

 

Apple has effectively re-imagined and revolutionized a particular product space: the PC.  Yet they still develop and sell products *in that space*. Naturally, declines in that space are now industry-wide. Apple is hit a little less because they make more money on it than others and still put out a superior product that dominates consumer satisfaction. 

post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post

It is now obvious with hindsight that the new designed iMac was a generation too early. They could have left the old design for one more generation and still put in the ivy bridge, usb 3, ugraded SSD plus HDD offerings/Fusion, and faster GPU's. They would have no supply problems and they'd have been able to delivery earlier. This would have more than satisfied pretty close to 100% of users. 

And what if that put the rest of their products behind another year because they waited an extra year to get the iMac sorted out? Would that then make sense that they had some growing pains with the iMac for a quarter?

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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Agreed. I thought that this was Tim Cook's forte?! If they can't get their supply chain in gear, they should simply slow down product development. Better to meet demand with fewer new products than not meet it with a larger set.

 

Execute, Tim.

 

Apple would have sold a LOT more Macs in the quarter if they had held off the iMac update till 2013. It was a dumb move to announce the product weeks before it was to ship AND THEN when the ship date did arrive not have enough AND THEN have manufacturing issues.

 

Quite embarrassing actually and they paid the cost of their mistake this quarter.

post #16 of 39
I would prefer less emaciated and easier to produce designs anyway. Cheese cutters. The new iMacs are likely to be difficult if not impossible to upgrade after the fact as well. Some of us need more RAM, faster graphics, multiple cheap fast HD's, etc. The iMac is a stand in for the Mac Pro many of us who have been waiting far too long. The new iMac is going in the opposite direction of what I am looking for.
post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

Apple would have sold a LOT more Macs in the quarter if they had held off the iMac update till 2013. It was a dumb move to announce the product weeks before it was to ship AND THEN when the ship date did arrive not have enough AND THEN have manufacturing issues.

They didn't even need to hold off on announcing the new product. If they had just kept the old ones on sale until production of the new one caught up, they wouldn't have had such a drop in sales.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim W View Post

I would prefer less emaciated and easier to produce designs anyway. Cheese cutters. The new iMacs are likely to be difficult if not impossible to upgrade after the fact as well. Some of us need more RAM, faster graphics, multiple cheap fast HD's, etc. The iMac is a stand in for the Mac Pro many of us who have been waiting far too long. The new iMac is going in the opposite direction of what I am looking for.

Very few people ever upgrade their computers. Get over it.
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post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

They didn't even need to hold off on announcing the new product. If they had just kept the old ones on sale until production of the new one caught up, they wouldn't have had such a drop in sales.

Apple isn't afraid to make money. They usually do continue to sell an older product right up until the new one is being put on the shelves. They even keep it hush hush for as long as possible like they did with the iPad (4). Because of all the historical data I am not satisfied with simply saying "Apple did it wrong" without considering why they did what they did with the iMac and at least one other product, as previously mentioned. The simplest answer to me is that they choose to lose some Mac units sales, revenue and profit from a severely limited number of iMacs to get an 3 month of progress on something.
Edited by SolipsismX - 1/23/13 at 6:05pm

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post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


And what if that put the rest of their products behind another year because they waited an extra year to get the iMac sorted out? Would that then make sense that they had some growing pains with the iMac for a quarter?

 

Well, it's a given that the problem with the imac (if it's not the actual casing) is the laminated screen. What I have suggested is pretty well what they released minus a thinner case and laminated screen, with regards to functionality. I can't see how waiting for the production of laminated screens while still releasing the iMac that everyone was waiting for anyway, would impact their other products in any way. 

 

Screen problems were flagged eight months ago. The screen on the current imac is arguable the best there is so this whole imac cock up was completely unnecessary. If they weren't ready it was utterly useless rushing it out when a normal component upgrade is all that anyone wanted. 

post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post

If they weren't ready it was utterly useless rushing it out when a normal component upgrade is all that anyone wanted. 

Neither you or I can be sure of that statement because we don't know what this represents to Apple. As I noted in post #18 leaving money on table by not having a product ready to ship at all or soon after they announce it uncommon for Apple so why now? It's unscientific, irrational and unfair just to say "Apple sucks, Cook should be fired" or other such nonsense.

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post #21 of 39

You must not know any video, audio, animation, or other media professionals. I won't get over it and neither will they. Scientific applications require expandability. Thunderbolt is not going to replace internally expandable computers. Apple is losing the faith of the pros that kept them alive before the stock speculators and bean counters began driving decisions. Upgradability is critical to many of us out here. Some of us must do more complex work than you. Not all of us are looking for an "adequate" piece of sculpture. I want my computer to be beautiful, but not sealed and inaccessible. I think the Mac Pro is a beautiful design. They might be able to meet their production goals with a bit more space inside as well. Don't forget "form follows function". Some of us have more complex functioning in mind. Not everyone, but there are enough of us who have staked our livelihoods on computers with expandability and the highest possible performance.

post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post

It is now obvious with hindsight that the new designed iMac was a generation too early. They could have left the old design for one more generation and still put in the ivy bridge, usb 3, ugraded SSD plus HDD offerings/Fusion, and faster GPU's. They would have no supply problems and they'd have been able to delivery earlier. This would have more than satisfied pretty close to 100% of users. 

100% agree & I've said the same thing frequently. They screwed up the entire refresh in a huge way.

I wonder if Tim didn't have the strength to stand up to Jonny and say "the new design ships early 2013 once we've worked out the manufacturing issues".

Had they released a speedbump back in April or so last year they'd be about ready to surprise everyone with the new revision now.
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post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Apple isn't afraid to make money. They usually do continue to sell an older product right up until the new one is being put on the shelves. They even keep it hush hush for as long as possible like they did with the iPad (4). Because of all the historical data I am not satisfied with simply saying "Apple did it wrong" without considering why they did what they did with the iMac and at least one other product, as previously mentioned. The simplest answer to me is that they choose to lose some Mac units sales, revenue and profit from a severely limited number of iMacs to get an 3 month of progress on something.

The point is that I can't imagine a single thing Apple gained by not having an iMac on the shelves for 2 months.

Clearly, there might be some reason for delaying the new product (manufacturing difficulties, need to build inventory, etc). But I can't see ANY upside to taking the old one off the market for a couple of months. Maybe you can enlighten me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim W View Post

You must not know any video, audio, animation, or other media professionals. I won't get over it and neither will they. Scientific applications require expandability. Thunderbolt is not going to replace internally expandable computers. Apple is losing the faith of the pros that kept them alive before the stock speculators and bean counters began driving decisions. Upgradability is critical to many of us out here. Some of us must do more complex work than you. Not all of us are looking for an "adequate" piece of sculpture. I want my computer to be beautiful, but not sealed and inaccessible. I think the Mac Pro is a beautiful design. They might be able to meet their production goals with a bit more space inside as well. Don't forget "form follows function". Some of us have more complex functioning in mind. Not everyone, but there are enough of us who have staked our livelihoods on computers with expandability and the highest possible performance.

That's why Apple sells the Mac Pro.

Oh, what you want is a computer with maximum power, maximum expandability, and a $499 price point. Not going to happen.
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post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The point is that I can't imagine a single thing Apple gained by not having an iMac on the shelves for 2 months.

Clearly, there might be some reason for delaying the new product (manufacturing difficulties, need to build inventory, etc). But I can't see ANY upside to taking the old one off the market for a couple of months. Maybe you can enlighten me.

I already gave an example. There might be a reason an extra 3 months on working on the display bonding or stir-friction welding or something else in the iMacs will benefit them in the long run that makes any profits gained by eschewing the design changes and sticking with the old style iMacs less opportunistic for their long term bottom line.

We have to remember that our inability to conceive of a reason is not proof that there is no reason. And we both know that it's atypical for Apple to allow such a wide gap between the new and old products so it's only logical not to rule out a reason for its existence even if we can't figure out what it is.
Edited by SolipsismX - 1/24/13 at 9:27am

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post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post

Yes, it was a monumental fu[k up.  If Jobs were still CEO, heads would roll. Cook wouldn't sleep for weeks.  It would be a bloodbath at Apple.

Who was fired when Apple didn't sell a single iPhone for months back in 2008?

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post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Who was fired when Apple didn't sell a single iPhone for months back in 2008?

 

A better example is the MobileMe debacle.  Jobs fired MobileMe director Rob Schoeben after chewing out the team and telling them they should hate each other for having let each other down.  He condemned the entire team for having "tarnished Apple's image".  

 

Note that the MobileMe debacle didn't have the same repercussions on sales that this iMac debacle has.  This iMac failure is comparable to some of Motorola's failures, and it's well documented how Jobs felt about Motorola.  

 

I'm surprised there isn't more anger here at AI given how many users are also Apple stock investors.  When Apple's mistakes are costing you money and you still make excuses for Apple, that's a warning sign that you're a fanboy.

post #27 of 39

Or more people use optical drives than Apple thought and they don't want to be forced to use an external one when a desktop computer should have internal room for it?

Just a thought.
 

post #28 of 39
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post
Just a thought.

 

A completely incorrect one.

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post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post

A better example is the MobileMe debacle.  Jobs fired MobileMe director Rob Schoeben after chewing out the team and telling them they should hate each other for having let each other down.  He condemned the entire team for having "tarnished Apple's image".  

Note that the MobileMe debacle didn't have the same repercussions on sales that this iMac debacle has.  This iMac failure is comparable to some of Motorola's failures, and it's well documented how Jobs felt about Motorola.  

I'm surprised there isn't more anger here at AI given how many users are also Apple stock investors.  When Apple's mistakes are costing you money and you still make excuses for Apple, that's a warning sign that you're a fanboy.

What resources could possibly not be available to the MobileMe team? They ran out of a href tags? There is nothing relevant about the two. Again, whom did Jobs fire when the have no iPhone sales for 2 months when they transitioned from one model to the other?

Hint: I'm trying to get you to see that production has certain limitations that can (and have) caused issues in the short term but have little to no effect in the long term and can actually be beneficial in the long run.

If you are still not getting it let me try a scenario you might be familiar with. Two people just graduate high school. One get a job right out of HS and is making money. The other decides to go to college to further his education. He doesn't work for 4 more years yet in that time frame the other guy has made money each week and has been promoted in his job. 3 more years go by and the kid in college has finished his masters and now he's ready to enter the work force. Which one is likely to make more money in their lifetime?

The bottom line is you can't claim that Jobs wouldn't have done the same thing and there is precedence to show that Apple under Jobs rule has done the same thing which makes any claim that Jobs would never if he were alive or Tim Cook is ruining Apple to be complete BS>

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post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Or more people use optical drives than Apple thought and they don't want to be forced to use an external one when a desktop computer should have internal room for it?
Just a thought.

So they have a 3-4 week waiting period because Apple is lying? Seriously?!

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post #31 of 39

They made the mistake of using a design that is so difficult to mass manufacture. This show the design is unpractical. You can claim the design is great, but what good there is if you cannot mass produce it?

post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

They made the mistake of using a design that is so difficult to mass manufacture. This show the design is unpractical. You can claim the design is great, but what good there is if you cannot mass produce it?

Why can't they mass produce it? Why did they choose this design?

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post #33 of 39
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post
…a design that is… …difficult to mass manufacture. …show[s] the design is unpractical. 

 

Eh, this doesn't quite follow.

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post #34 of 39

The chief designer of the iMac is deluded here. He thinks his so-called industrial design is so great that they cannot mass produce the product to the detriment of the company.

 

Well, maybe it does not really matter anyway, since their market share is so low.

post #35 of 39
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post
He thinks his so-called industrial design is so great ⇦|⇨ that they cannot mass produce the product…

 

Once again, these two parts don't follow. You have to have a connection, but the former doesn't imply the latter.

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post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


The point is that I can't imagine a single thing Apple gained by not having an iMac on the shelves for 2 months.

Clearly, there might be some reason for delaying the new product (manufacturing difficulties, need to build inventory, etc). But I can't see ANY upside to taking the old one off the market for a couple of months. Maybe you can enlighten me.
That's why Apple sells the Mac Pro.

Oh, what you want is a computer with maximum power, maximum expandability, and a $499 price point. Not going to happen.

 

I am not expecting a $499 price point for a Mac Pro. My last one a 2010 5,1 cost well over $4000, before graphics upgrades and more RAM,  and I would pay that again for the next version. You sir, have no comprehension of the professional market and the money that is spent there. I just hope Apple honors their promise of "something great" , intimating a new Mac Pro, later this year. They are going to lose the the Pro, Science, and high end market to Windows, and I dread that.  Super thin, difficult to manufacture, non-upgradable computers that look good on the desks at fashion magazine offices are not what we need at the high end. No disrespect intended to Jony Ive. He is a genius, who happens to be a neighbor of mine in Hawaii, where I had the largest non-linear editing sales business in the state a few years ago. All Mac by the way, Avid, etc.

post #37 of 39
Originally Posted by Jim W View Post
No disrespect intended to Jony Ive.

 

He did the PowerMac G5 design in the first place. You know, probably the single best tower computer design ever made? I think he knows what he's doing in this regard.

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post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

He did the PowerMac G5 design in the first place. You know, probably the single best tower computer design ever made? I think he knows what he's doing in this regard.

 

Totally agree. Best design of a tower ever. Still looks modern. I 'd be happy with the same design and up to date CPU, graphics, fast bus, and USB3 and Thunderbolt. And expansion slots.

post #39 of 39

Also should add to the Mac Pro list multiple HDs/SSDs. This is one of the most powerful aspects of the Mac Pro. Multiple boot drives, application environments, internal RAID.

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