It looks like interest in the iPhone is finally waning. For the first time since its creation in 2007, Apple is reporting a year-over-year dip in demand for its pricey pocket computer. That said, Apple still sold a lot of iPhones!
In a quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook just revealed that Apple has sold 74.77 million iPhones since September. That’s good news in a sense, since Apple really wanted to hit any number above 74.5 million iPhones sold, the ludicrous watermark established after sales of last year’s larger-than-usual iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But the increase in sales is almost insignificant.
Tim Cook spent time comparing (smartly) how impressive the numbers are to iPhone sales two years and five years ago, but not last year because then he’d have to say the phrase “zero percent growth.” Other than that, Cook pins most of the blame on “weakening currencies in international markets” and a continuing lack of LTE penetration.
Apple’s first ever iPhone sales plateau doesn’t necessarily mean it’s losing the title as reigning smartphone sales champion, but it does mean that Apple’s biggest source of revenue (about two-thirds, actually) might be stalling. Although that southward trending sales figure is a first for Apple, it certainly isn’t the first for most smartphone makers, who’ve been feeling a similar mobile sales plateau for at least a year aided in no small part by a slowing Chinese economy.
iPhone sales in millions from reported numbers starting in January 2008.
iPhones are also starting to have staying power, much like Apple’s iPad lineup. Early iPhones offered massive improvements over what came before—with some software even being upgraded into oblivion due to out-of-date processors. The iPhone 6s offered little more than the arguably useful 3D Touch and gimmick-filled Live Photos.
The 6s did come with the faster A9 chip, but the Pew Research Center shows that the top five uses for smartphones are now text messaging, voice/video calling, internet, email, and social networking. You don’t really need blazing processors for any of those things. As the push for smartphone-powered VR continues, that could change, but until then a better processor doesn’t really mean much.
Still, this number alone isn’t enough to declare that iPhone sales will forever be on the decline. When looking at the sales difference between iPhone 5 and 5s, you can see that the 5s only eked out a measly 3.2 million more than its predecessor. The 6s shows similar trends, though at an alarmingly smaller number.
Apple’s answer to this less-than-stellar report seems to be “strength in numbers.” Rumors of three different iPhones for 2016, the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and the much talked about 4-inch iPhone 5se, will most likely right the mobile ship, especially if Apple sticks with its bi-annual habit of reinventing the iPhone’s design. Some leaks already suggest as much.
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