Apple announced its fourth-quarter earnings today after the bell, and it was something of a strange quarter because, unlike some previous years (including last year), this quarter’s numbers did not include an iPhone launch. The iPhone 12’s various models ship in October and November instead of September this year.
CEO Tim Cook proudly announced double-digit YOY growth in all product categories besides iPhone on the call, but the iPhone is important: Apple’s total revenue was up only 1 percent year over year, with iPhone revenue down almost 21 percent.
While the iPhone didn’t help push up the bottom line, Apple did launch other products during the period, including the redesigned iPad Air and two Apple Watches: the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. iPad revenue was up a substantial 46 percent YOY (it totaled $6.8 billion), and Mac revenue was also strong at $9 billion, or 28-percent more than the same quarter last year.
Apple’s increasing emphasis on services is a well-trodden story by this point, but it continued in Cook’s remarks to investors on the earnings call. Services were up 16.3 percent year over year, totaling $14.55 billion—that’s more revenue than any other product category besides the iPhone ($26.44 billion in this down quarter).
Cook specifically called out Apple TV+ as having a good quarter. The streaming service appeared to outsiders to have a slow launch this time last year—especially in contrast to the massively successful Disney+, which began service at almost the same time. But Cook spoke of Apple TV+ in a positive tone and named the series Ted Lasso as a notable success. The sports comedy starring Jason Sudeikis has drawn praise for its positive, uplifting vibe, and it might be Apple TV+’s biggest hit yet—though Apple has not released as many numbers about Apple TV+ viewership as many would like.
Apple also declined yet again to give guidance for the next quarter—a practice it and some other companies have stuck to throughout the pandemic, given the global uncertainties involved. Some analysts had thought Apple might return to giving guidance this quarter, but with COVID cases on a sharp rise in some regions (including the United States), it seems that wasn’t in the cards just yet.
That means that analysts, investors, and other observers have no idea how well Apple expects the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro to sell. Currently, two out of four new iPhone models this season are already shipping, so we’ll see those numbers in the next quarter—which is usually Apple’s best, precisely because of those new iPhone sales.
Apple shares dropped about 5 percent in value in after-hours trading as some investors were disappointed that the surge in iPad and Mac sales wasn’t enough to make up for the iPhone’s short-term decline. That said, Apple’s reported earnings hewed closely to what analysts expected from this quarter.