Apple has decided to stop disclosing how many iPhones are sold during their initial preorder period and opening weekend. The change, it says, is because the iPhone 7 is going to sell out, making initial sales “no longer a representative metric” of demand and a poor gauge for investors.
That may be true, but you could also look at this as an admission that Apple is concerned about declining iPhone sales. Year after year, Apple has claimed record-breaking sales figures following each iPhone launch — and for the first time in a while, we’re not going to see one of those.
It’s entirely possible Apple still would have set a new record; it’s effectively been fudging the numbers for a while by adding more and more countries at launch, thus inflating initial sales. But iPhones seem to have been selling out for years, and this is the first time that Apple has cited that as a reason for not offering initial figures.
In a note given to CNBC, Apple also reiterated its earnings guidance for the quarter ending in late October. That guidance speaks to the declining iPhone sales narrative too, as Apple is expecting revenues to drop around 10 percent year over year, suggesting at the very least that iPhone 7 sales won’t make up for falling sales of Apple’s existing smartphone models.
The iPhone is still doing remarkably well worldwide, so this is by no means some harbinger of Apple’s doom. But it does play into the growing narrative of the iPhone’s slow decline — one set of numbers from July, for instance, showed new Galaxy phones outselling new iPhones in the US.