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#PRFAIL: Apple is a Terrible Wizard

#PRFAIL: Apple is a Terrible Wizard

Pay no attention to the numbers behind the curtain.

That’s Apple’s “Wizard of Oz”-like message as it’s decided to move forward obscuring concrete figures on iPhone unit sales.1

And just as the Emerald City Wiz was eventually found out, the Silicon Valley tech company can only succeed so long artificially insulating stock prices in the face of iPhone sales setbacks.

What gives, you might ask? There was a time of day when people set up camping gear to wait for the drop of the new iPhone.

Turns out it’s a combination of things. CEO Tim Cook published a letter to shareholders addressing the revenue shortfall, primarily blaming slow growth and competition in developing markets like China2 (where Apple contends not only with Samsung but with Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo)3 – however, over here at home, people just aren’t shelling out like they used to. The pricetag of a new XS? $1,449. And Apple’s last goof with battery-related operating system slowdowns allowed many to replace old iPhone batteries for just 29 bucks.4

Pay $1000 or more for a shinier smartphone with no home button and not a headphone jack in sight? Many voted “no thank you,” leaving only the Mac diehards and those of, uh, less limited means.

For those that love stats, according to data shared by Strategy Analytics, Apple sold an estimated 65.9 million iPhones during Q1 of 2019 – which is 11.4 million less than 2018’s Q1 number (77.3 million). Apple’s total revenue for Q1 2019 was $84.31 billion, down from $88.3 billion in Q1 2018.5 Tim Cook’s letter acknowledged to investors that total Q1 revenue would be lower than expected by up to $9 billion.6

This revelation, even while keeping the public in the dark about those iPhone numbers, caused Apple stock to drop by 10%.7

Again, who do they think they’re kidding? It’s obvious the future of the iPhone, Apple’s bread and butter, is in flux. Smartphone consumption patterns are changing. Apple needs to think smart and think fast.

But hiding their unit sales figures is about as smart, and about as effective, as little Johnny hiding the stolen cookie behind his back. We all know it’s there. We all know what you’re doing. And we can all tell the numbers are declining – only now, because you’re refusing to be transparent about it, we trust you less.

CEOs take note: Covering up unfavorable data after you have been publishing it before never  works in the long run, leaves a vacuum of information that the public will supplant with bad news, and compromises the goodwill and trust you’ve built up with the public and with shareholders. When weathering a storm, first admit there’s one brewing. When we know you’re not in denial and you’re not trying to keep us in the dark, we have more confidence you’ll be able to pull through.

 

  1. Clover, Juli. “Apple to Stop Providing Unit Sales Data for IPhone, IPad and Mac Starting With December Quarter.” Mac Rumors, MacRumors, 2 Nov. 2018, www.macrumors.com/2018/11/01/apple-no-unit-sales-data-earnings/.
  2. Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “IPhone Sales Are down Because Buying a New One Isn’t That Cool Anymore.” Vox.com, Vox Media, 3 Jan. 2019, www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/3/18167072/apple-iphone-sales-down-china-upgrades-q1-2018.
  3. Savov, Vlad. “Apple and Samsung Feel the Sting of Plateauing Smartphones.” The Verge, The Verge, 3 Jan. 2019, www.theverge.com/2019/1/3/18166399/iphone-android-apple-samsung-smartphone-sales-peak.
  4. Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “IPhone Sales Are down Because Buying a New One Isn’t That Cool Anymore.” Vox.com, Vox Media, 3 Jan. 2019, www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/3/18167072/apple-iphone-sales-down-china-upgrades-q1-2018.
  5. Clover, Juli. “Strategy Analytics: Apple Shipped an Estimated 65.9 Million IPhones in Holiday Quarter.” Mac Rumors, MacRumors, 29 Jan. 2019, www.macrumors.com/2019/01/29/apple-holiday-quarter-iphone-sales-estimates/.
  6. Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “IPhone Sales Are down Because Buying a New One Isn’t That Cool Anymore.” Vox.com, Vox Media, 3 Jan. 2019, www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/3/18167072/apple-iphone-sales-down-china-upgrades-q1-2018.
  7. Ibid.

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