Apple sees significant slump in iPhone sales over festive season

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Apple has acknowledged demand for iPhones is waning, fulfilling the worst fears of investors concerned the company’s most profitable product has lost some of its lustre. 

The reckoning came in the form of a warning that Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered to the company’s shareholders in a letter released after the stock market closed on Wednesday.

Mr Cook said Apple’s revenue for the quarter including the crucial holiday shopping season will fall well below Apple’s earlier projections and those of analysts, whose estimates sway the stock market.

Apple now expects revenue of 84 billion dollars for the quarter spanning from October through December.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Apple’s revenue to be about 9% higher — 91.3 billion dollars.

Mr Cook traced most of the revenue drop to China, where the economy has been slowing and Apple has faced tougher competition from home-grown smartphone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi.

President Donald Trump has also raised new tensions between the US and China by imposing tariffs on more than 200 billion dollars in goods, although so far the iPhone has not been affected directly.

China’s “economy began to slow there for the second half”, Mr Cook said during an interview with CNBC on Wednesday afternoon. “The trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy.”

Mr Cook also acknowledged that consumers in other markets are not buying as many of the latest iPhones, released last fall, as Apple had anticipated.

Apple’s stock plunged 7% to 146.40 dollars in extended trading.

The shares had already fallen 32% from their peak in early October when investors still had high hopes for the new iPhone models.

Chris Price