Poor iPhone Sales Panic Apple, Sudden iPhone XS Price Cut, …


Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes low iPhone sales, Apple pushing a positive iPhone XR message, more iPhone price cuts, the good news around no iPhone sales information, why the iPad Pro smart connector has failed, the latest Apple patents, the App Store heading to the Supreme Court, and Project Fi coming to iPhone.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

More iPhone Discounts To Fight Low Sales

Apple continues to counter the weak sales of the new iPhones with more discounts. These aren’t (yet) direct to the customer, but it’s getting close. Following the discounts to carriers, the latest move is to increase the value of credit offered if customers trade in an older iPhone. Gordon Kelly reports on the new Chinese offer:

Digitimes reports today that Apple has “enforced a second wave of order reduction in the wake of weaker-than-expected sales for its new iPhones”. Apple’s Chinese manufacturers were already reporting profit warnings due to order cutbacks of 25% by their “largest customer”.

Apple’s response: it will give customers up to $100 more when they trade-in their existing iPhones under its ‘GiveBack’ program and upgrade to one of the new models

More here on Forbes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a product launch event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. – New iPhones set to be unveiled Wednesday offer Apple a chance for fresh momentum (Photo: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images)Getty

Apple Says The iPhone XR Is The Best. 

Good news! Apple VP of marketing Greg Joswiak has told CNet that the iPhone XR “been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available.” But hold on a moment… that doesn’t tell us anything about the retail performance of the iPhone.

Taken to the extreme this could mean that the iPhone XR is selling 3 units a day, the iPhone XS and XS Max each selling 2 units a day, and another iPhone just one unit day. That makes the iPhone XR the best-selling iPhone, but it would pale into comparison if the competition is selling 10 million units a day. Without a fixed point from Cupertino, this is little more than hot air. Shara Tibken continues the story:

The news comes amid worries about iPhone demand. Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter results at the beginning of November showed that the company may be grappling with a case of iPhone fatigue — but it’s still getting people to shell out more money for the phones they do buy. Apple said it didn’t sell as many iPhones as analysts expected in the quarter that ended Sept. 29, and it projected lackluster revenue results for the December quarter. Apple also said it would no longer detail unit sales of its iPhone and other major devices, a reversal from its strategy since first introducing the products.

More at CNet.

No iPhone Numbers Is Not Necessarily Bad News

Combining the lowered sales of the latest iPhones, the reduced orders in the supply chain, and a move to hide the unit sales of iPhones being reported, many have drawn the conclusion that Apple is looking to hide bad news. As I’ve noted previously, Tim Cook’s Apple is looking to change the story – from sales of iPhones to revenue from services. It’s a strategy that requires careful communications, something Apple has not been on top of in the last few quarters, but it is not all bad news. Daniel Dilger argues that all is well as long as revenue is maintained:

Rather than having “something to hide,” Apple provided guidance for a record-setting holiday season this quarter. On its November 1 conference call, Apple’s chief financial officer Luca Maestri stated “we have the strongest lineup ever as we enter the holiday season and we expect revenue to be between $89 billion and $93 billion, a new all-time record.”

…This negative speculation is targeted specifically at iPhone because phones make up most of Apple’s revenues. However, while Apple will stop detailing the unit sales of iPhones, it will continue to report iPhone revenues. If there were any real problem with iPhone sales, it would obviously be evident in the data Apple will continue to supply.

More at Apple Insider.

The Fallen Future Of The iPad Pro

When the iPad Pro family was first launched, Apple made a huge deal of the smart connector… but it didn’t pick up a huge amount of support. Third-party manufacturers noted a number of issues and fed these back to Apple.The repositioning of the smart connector in the new tablets has increased the challenge. Andrew O’Hara discusses the missed opportunity and why further development is unlikely:

By removing the port from the edge of the device, not only does Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio require a back panel, any future third-party keyboards will as well. This leaves those of us who don’t want or need that rear protection stuck with lackluster Bluetooth options that don’t use the Smart Connector.

We also have no chance of docking stations for the updated Pros. Unless the dock is exceptionally wide to reach all the way to the Smart Connector —which would be different for the 12.9-inch versus the 11-inch model. They could be docked in portrait mode, but iOS and iPad software as it stands today has far more utility in landscape mode, particularly when docked. We’ve used it as a picture frame, HomeKit control panel, and a second monitor all in landscape.

More at Apple Insider (and a hat tip to Daring Fireball).

Washington Post reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler reviews Apple’s newest iPad Pro on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 in San Francisco. (Photo by John Brecher / The Washington Post / Getty Images)Getty

Apple Helps You Push The Button

Meanwhile, Apple’s push to improve its revenue stream from iPhone peripherals may have prepared another win this week. A newly published patent reveals Cupertino’s technology that can replicated the feeling of an iPhone button through a protective case. I looked at this earlier in the week:

The upshot of this patent is that through the connecting magnets, the feeling of pressing a metallic button with a crisp action can be replicated in a silicon case with a much looser ‘pass through’ button. Binding the silicon button to the button on the iPhone will help mimic the experience, even through a different material.

…there is another, more financial, advantage. The addition of even a little bit of Apple’s patented technology into a case will mean that manufacturers who want to use it will need to join Apple’s ‘Made for iPhone’ program. And that means that Apple will be taking a cut of the revenue of the peripheral sales.

More here on Forbes.

App Store Heads To The Supreme Court

If the Apple App Store is the only way for developers to reach out to customers, and Apple insists on taking a thirty percent cut of the cost of an app, should the App Store be covered by Anti-trust legislation? Are consumers buying their apps from Apple, or direct from the developers? It’s an important point that could be a key point in a case approaching the US Supreme Court. Greg Stohr  and Naomi Nix report:

The case turns on what happens when iPhone users buy something at the Apple App Store. In allowing the suit, a federal appeals court said the transaction is a simple one in which consumers buy directly from Apple. Apple says it’s more complicated, with the company serving as a middleman connecting app developers with users.

The distinction is critical because of a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that says only direct purchasers of a product can collect damages for overpricing under federal antitrust law.

More at Bloomberg.

And Finally…

Google’s Project Fi – which uses domestic wi-fi and wi-fi hotspots across the US to replicate a cellular network – is limited to a number of compatible handsets. That list expanded this week, and for the first time includes the iPhone, reports Zach Epstein. Google’s Project Fi blog has more details:

Now, you can sign up for Fi with popular Android phones (including many Samsung, LG, Moto and OnePlus devices) and with iPhones (in beta). Since this is the first time Google Fi is available for iPhones, there are a few extra steps to get set up, which we’ll walk you through in the Google Fi iOS app. No matter what phone you use with Fi, you’ll get great Fi features—like reliable coverage, easy group plans, and high speed international data coverage for the same rates you pay at home. Plus, as always with Fi, there are no contracts and zero hidden fees.

Read the full blog post here.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

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