Apple will no longer report iPhone, Mac and iPad unit sales

Posted:
in AAPL Investors edited November 2018
Apple on Thursday dropped a bombshell in announcing a major change in the way it reports quarterly earnings, saying it will no longer release iPhone, Mac and iPad sales numbers starting with the December period.

iPhones


The surprise shift in policy was announced during a quarterly conference call for the fourth quarter of 2018 as part of opening remarks delivered by CFO Luca Maestri.

Going forward, Apple will no longer break out unit sales for three of its most important products. The company will continue to report revenue, sales growth, and guidance, but the change means analysts and market watchers will be unable to derive device ASPs and other calculations.

"A unit of sale is less relevant today than it was in our past," Maestri said, adding that the number of units sold does not necessarily represent the relative health of a product's underlying business.

Further, product ranges have become "much wider" and exhibit an equivalent sales price dispersion. Of note, iPhone offerings now run the gamut, from $449 for an iPhone 7 to $1,449 for a top-of-the-line iPhone XS.

The adjustment arrives as sales of iPhone, Apple's most important revenue driver, slowly stagnates. During the most recent quarter, for example, iPhone sales growth was flat year-over-year, and last quarter sales were up by a single percent from 2017.

While iPhone unit sales are no longer trending toward massive growth, average sales prices are booming. For the fourth quarter of 2018, iPhone ASP hit an all-time high of $793, up from $617.99 in 2017. Similar positive changes were seen in trailing quarters with a marked increase materializing with the launch of Apple's premium-priced iPhone X last year.

Maestri during today's call noted segment competitors do not provide unit sales.

"Our intention is to continue to give revenue guidance at the company level and gross margin in the other categories," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "Our guidance isn't changing, it's the actual report that is changing."

When pressed on the matter, Cook said more important metrics like user install base -- which is growing at double digits -- provide better insight on Apple's ecosystem. He then offered a somewhat bizarre simile before ending the call.

"This is a little bit like if you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier, and she says, or he says, 'How many units you have in there?' It doesn't matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of the cart," Cook said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 117
    What's the real reason for not giving us this information?
    dysamoria
  • Reply 2 of 117
    Not saying unexpected, as I suspect something like this will happen sooner or later. Although I don't think this will entirely stop those analysts making predictions on their own.
    lolliver
  • Reply 3 of 117
    So they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore? Sort of weird.

    I also suspect it might be because they don't want to reveal that their higher price devices aren't selling as they are hoping they will.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 117
    What's the real reason for not giving us this information?
    The "real" reason is, as Maestri succinctly said, "A unit of sale is less relevant today than it was in our past,"
    retrogustoJFC_PAMisterKitmagman1979jony0trashman69repressthislolliverJWSCrandominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 117
    So they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore? Sort of weird.

    I also suspect it might be because they don't want to reveal that their higher price devices aren't selling as they are hoping they will.
    It's kinda weird but also expected. And judging from people's reaction, I don't think this will stop people making assumptions. On the contrary this will fire up all the cylinders: assumptions, predictions, suspicious, curiosity, fear, insecurities, doubts, questions etc. None that would be answered by Apple at least not directly or publicly, which they have right to do so.
    edited November 2018 baconstangcurtis hannahjony0repressthispalomineronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 117
    Doesn't bother me. Unit sales is just another number those fucking useless analysts use to try and manipulate Apple stock.
    JFC_PAbaconstangMisterKitmagman1979berndoglovemnRayz2016chasmjony0repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 117
    Good.
    The analysts have brought it upon themselves. All their crystal ball gazing and their supply chain predictions of what they think Apple should be selling.
    Bottomline is sales and profits.
    retrogustoJFC_PAMisterKitmagman1979lovemnRayz2016jony0mdriftmeyergilly33repressthis
  • Reply 8 of 117
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,108member
    So they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore? Sort of weird.

    I also suspect it might be because they don't want to reveal that their higher price devices aren't selling as they are hoping they will.
    "The company will continue to report revenue and sales growth, but the change means analysts and market watchers will be unable to derive device ASPs and other calculations."

    Just unit sales, not "
    they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore". You will still get categories sales just not individual unit sales numbers.
    fastasleeplolliverradarthekatronn
  • Reply 9 of 117
    Makes sense. Growth is slowing and none of Apple’s compeitiors provide unit sales. Wall Street hates it though. Stock down 7%.
    gilly33repressthismuthuk_vanalingamdysamoriaronn
  • Reply 10 of 117
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,581member
    Probably because share price fluctuates based on number of units sold regardless of profits.  By doing this the only metric they are judged on is profit.
    baconstangMisterKitlolliverxamaxyojimbo007dysamoriaStrangeDayspalominewaltgronn
  • Reply 11 of 117
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 295member
    The bottom line IS the bottom line for a business after all. That’s dollars not widgets. Line item dollar totals I’d still expect. 
    jony0
  • Reply 12 of 117
    So they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore? Sort of weird.

    I also suspect it might be because they don't want to reveal that their higher price devices aren't selling as they are hoping they will.
    Wouldn’t we be able to figure that out by revenue compares? We won’t know ASP but we’ll have revenue dollars.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 13 of 117
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 295member
    So they don't want to discuss which product categories increase sales anymore? Sort of weird.

    I also suspect it might be because they don't want to reveal that their higher price devices aren't selling as they are hoping they will.
    Except that exploding ASP shows the top end is selling well. Math. 

    Apple's average selling price was $793, crushing analyst estimates of $750.93.

    edited November 2018 douglas baileymagman1979Rayz2016jony0repressthisxamaxradarthekatronn
  • Reply 14 of 117
    Doesn't bother me. Unit sales is just another number those fucking useless analysts use to try and manipulate Apple stock.
    I’m glad they’re no longer providing unit sales but less information isn’t going to stop the manipulation. There will still be supply chain rumors and sales estimates from outlets like IDC. I’d like to see Apple give more information around install base/ARPU. Especially now that growth is coming from higher prices and services, not unit growth,
    repressthis
  • Reply 15 of 117
    kevin kee said:
    What's the real reason for not giving us this information?
    The "real" reason is, as Maestri succinctly said, "A unit of sale is less relevant today than it was in our past,"
    I suppose, but a good reason is that it's information which helps their competitors sharpen their plans. Why should Apple provide it if it doesn't benefit Apple?

    Personally, I think Apple should provide no guidance to analysts. Let them do their own homework.
    edited November 2018 gilly33genovellexamaxApple Exposedpalomineronn
  • Reply 16 of 117
    ...
    The change arrives as sales of iPhone, Apple's most important revenue driver, stagnate. During the most recent quarter, for example, iPhone sales growth was flat year-over-year. Last quarter, sales were up by a single percent from the same time last year.
    ...
    I really don't care about GROWTH.  So what of growth is stagnant... you're telling me they sold just as manny phones this year as they did last year?... that sounds fantastic to me!  It wasn't even a "new" model year, "merely" an incremental improvement.  The market is near saturated, yet they continue to sell just a s many phones!

    If GROWTH is required to make a profit, then you have a bad business model.

    magman1979mac_doglolliverxamaxradarthekatdysamoriaStrangeDaysbaconstangpalomineronn
  • Reply 17 of 117
    What's the real reason for not giving us this information?
    I like knowing these numbers, but based on the market’s reaction to Apple’s latest impressive record-breaking quarter, it looks like those numbers just confuse investors because too many of them are unable to see the bigger picture. So Apple is just going to show them the bigger picture without the distraction of knowing exactly how they achieve their enormous profits. 

    Apple was was not going to be able to keep increasing iPhone profits forever by selling more and more units at the same prices. The only answer was to increase average selling prices, which they have successfully done. But some investors are always going to get hung up on unit prices and market share, which are really only relevant* as a means of driving increased profits, not as an end in and of themselves. 

    *once you have the critical mass necessary to support an ecosystem including a strong developer community, which Apple clearly has
    gilly33radarthekatpalomine
  • Reply 18 of 117
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    Unit sales figures may not matter to Apple, but it matters to third parties whose livelihood depends on Apple unit sales... and that should matter to Apple.
    (For my business, maybe I just focus on Linux going forward.)
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 19 of 117
    cpsro said:
    Unit sales figures may not matter to Apple, but it matters to third parties whose livelihood depends on Apple unit sales... and that should matter to Apple.
    (For my business, maybe I just focus on Linux going forward.)

    Such as?
  • Reply 20 of 117
    kevin kee said:
    What's the real reason for not giving us this information?
    The "real" reason is, as Maestri succinctly said, "A unit of sale is less relevant today than it was in our past,"
    That's not a reason at all. I.e., how is it less relevant? If it's not a legal requirement to release that information, why have they been doing it until now?
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