The guessing game about Apple’s iPhone sales is a quarterly tradition among many people who follow the company, but the fun is coming to an end. Apple says it will stop reporting quarterly unit sales for its major hardware lines, the Mac, iPad and iPhone, starting with its next quarterly report.
Take a long look at the chart above, because it’s apparently the last time we’ll be updating the official data, which we’ve traced back for nearly a decade.
Apple’s official rationale is that the numbers don’t accurately reflect the state of the business, as explained by Luca Maestri, the company’s chief financial officer.
Luca: Walk you through rationale. Our objective is to make great products, provide best customer experience, have customer sat and loyalty. Look at financial performance, look at last three years, number of units sold in any quarter, not representative of underlying business.
— Six Colors liveblog (@sixcolorsevent) November 1, 2018
For example, iPhone sales were up just slightly in the most recent quarter, at 46.9 million units, from 46.7 million units, but iPhone revenue was up 29 percent to $37.2 billion. Apple’s quarterly revenue was $62.9 billion, up 20 percent, and quarterly earnings were $2.91 per share, up 41 percent.
It seems to me Apple tried to get investors to look at other data-points other than units for a while now and as it has not happened they are making it easier by not reporting units #AAPL
— Carolina Milanesi (@caro_milanesi) November 1, 2018
This isn’t an unusual move for consumer technology companies to make when faced with unit sales that are slumping or no longer growing as quickly as in the past. Microsoft, for example, stopped reporting Xbox unit sales, focusing instead on Xbox Live active users, as it became clear that the PlayStation 4 was building a significant lead over the Xbox One in unit sales.
Apple shares are down 6.7 percent in after-hours trading.