Apple's Q2 2012 iPhone sales dip: Can the iPad 3 save the day?

Apple's Q2 2012 iPhone sales dip: Can the iPad 3 save the day?

Summary: Apple is expected to announce that iPhone sales during Q2 2012 decreased slightly from the previous quarter. But can the iPad 3 save the day?

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With Apple's earnings less than a fortnight away, a report in Fortune suggests Apple may have sold between 26--44 million iPhones in the past quarter, which ended two weeks ago.

While the Cupertino-based company will likely shed more light on the figures on April 24, analysts polled suggests a middle ground of around 35.1 million devices --- a decrease from the previous quarter.

That said, it marks more than 85 percent increase year-on-year for the company, even if Samsung continues to dominate the mobile OEM space quarter-by-quarter.

But with the last quarter doing so well with the release of the iPhone 4S, along with distracted attention towards the iPad 3, it seems logical that Apple could find a dip in numbers, and therefore a crucial dip in iPhone revenue.

Apple said in February that it sold more than 37 million iPhones in Q1 2012, a cumulative total of 175 million to date. In the 2011 fiscal year, the numbers levelled out and appeared to stagnate and only grew marginally in the face of a wave of Android devices hitting the market. Last October, the figures jumped by nearly double from 17.07 million in Q4 2011 to 37.04 million smartphones sold in Q1 2012 with the launch of the iPhone 4S.

It should come as no surprise that OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" should therefore become more like its iPhone and iPad counterpart in functionality and feature set to increase its popularity amongst users --- the so-called "iOS-ification" of the desktop operating system --- as Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in nearly three decades.

While Apple is expected to generate around half of its revenue from the iPhone, the iPad 3 may well pick up the numbers should declining iPhone sales cause a dip in revenue. In theory, the numbers balance each other out. But it's more likely that more people are still buying the entry-level 16GB iPhone at $199 on contracts rather than going all-out on an unlocked device, costing consumers a greater price tag of $649.

Compare this to the iPad 3, however, its entry level tablet at $499 could generate more revenue per device than the entry-level iPhone does. Plus, while its predecessor the iPhone 4, and the now ageing iPhone 3GS remains on sale, Apple is taking to increase the surface area its smartphone has by having three vastly different iPhones on sale.

Crucially, for Apple, iPad figures are the logical ones to watch during the April 24 earnings.

It's likely that iPhone sales will remain either around the same as the last quarter if not dipping slightly in the wake of the iPad 3's arrival, but Apple could simply shift its focus from the iPhone being the critical figure to its earnings report and claim instead that iOS as a platform is what keeps the company in business.

Image source: Wikipedia.

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Topics: Apple, Collaboration, Hardware, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

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24 comments
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  • I'm waiting to hear

    How the stellar sales of the Nokia Lumia are "biting" into Apple's sales. Has either Microsoft, or Nokia announced how many phones were activated? I could care less how many were dumped in the sales channel, how many ended up in consumers' hands, that is the only number that counts.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Probably Few

      Consumers know junk when they see it and that's why Windows Phone marketshare is decreasing.
      itguy10
    • 2M

      I heard 2 million sold since launch, that was last week around the time of their earnings warning.
      wright_is
      • I'm guessing you're wrong, wright

        I'm guessing Nokia didn't even make that many phones. Did you just make this up? Sources?
        Info-Dave
      • @Info Dave ... 2M sold according to ZDNet

        Bleh, my comment has now disappeared twice!

        I read it in Mary-Jo's column last week on this site.

        12 million handsets sold of which 2 million were Lumias.
        wright_is
    • For smartphones and other items like them where new models come out

      multiple times a year retailers stock very small supplies so the number in the channel is very accurate. If they arent moving them they dont stock them because the new ones are right around the corner. But it sounded like it was the online channels that were the big movers anyway with the black and cyan 900's taking the top two spots on amazon all week. Interestingly 5 different windows phones also took the first 5 spots on the top rated phones list. They're obviously doing something right.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Year Over Year

    is the proper way to measure performance, but saying Apple is Doooooooomed! because sales dipped in a quarter when sales always dip is so much more sensational.
    baggins_z
    • What are you talking about? Its not uncommon at all for sales to be up yoy

      and qoq. Im sure apples iphones have done both many times.
      Johnny Vegas
      • It could very well happen...

        If you look at the chart it's happened twice in the last 5yr for the iPhone.. only once in 5yrs after sales had doubled YOY...

        But you are right... It could happen again, but it's not a common occurance for this product... looks like half the analysts think it will happen again too... we see that the analysts were off WAY off the last time as even the very highest estimates ended up being too low by ~3-6 million phones..
        theFunkDoctorSpoc
      • It is uncommon; very few Q1 results ever top Christmas quarter

        Even Apple did it only few times and under specific circumstances (like big iPhone 4 production deficit in calendar 2010Q4). But Zack was grown in tradition of classic British tabloid media (Mirror, Sun, Daily Mail, et cetera), so he does things the way he can.
        DDERSSS
  • Not that alarming, really...

    The jump from Q4 to Q1 was unusually dramatic (even by Apple standards), so it's not really too surprising that there might be a dip... although shareholders will want Apple to explain precisely why. It could be because of the iPad, or because some iFans are holding off for the iPhone 5. It'd be nice (for us Windows Phone fans) if the Nokia Lumia were responsible for part of the dip, but there's just no evidence for that... yet.
    metromalenyc
    • I know...

      a few 3GS owners are eeking their failing batteries out as long as they can, waiting for a redesign. The complain the all glass and metal case doesn't sit comfortably in the hand.
      wright_is
    • We're talking about a quarter where the lumia wasnt out on ATT or verizon

      in the US nor at all in most of the world. So No I dont think Nokia had anything to do with it. Nokia wont be impacting anyone in 2012. They arent even big into WP until WP8.
      Johnny Vegas
  • People are starting to understand Apple's release schedule.

    I read a story the other day that said that MacBook/Pro sales are down this quarter. Well golly! Apple is about to announce new MacBooks; would [b]YOU[/b] buy one this quarter or would you wait just a little while to get the latest and greatest model?

    It's the same with iPhones. Depending on whose rumor you believe, the next iPhone refresh (almost certainly the iPhone 5) is coming in either June (doubtful) or October (likely), so you can certainly expect sales of last year's model to trail off as we approach those months. I use a now almost four-year-old iPhone 3G so I know that I'll be online pressing the "Buy" button just as soon as Apple announces the next generation.
    Atlant
    • It depends...

      on whether I need one now. Sometimes you don't have a choice. ;-)
      wright_is
  • It's good. But not that good.

    iPhone sales were running around 15-20 million units per quarter, then suddenly jumped to twice that in 1Q12 when the 4S came out. That's obviously pent-up demand; anyone who expected 37 million per quarter to become the 'new normal' must've just wandered out of the forest.
    Robert Hahn
  • I wonder if you're trying to get page clicks.. lol...

    1) look a the range of predicutions... 22-44million... that tells you that no ones has a clue what the number will be...
    2) arbitrarily cutting it down the middle is the best way to judge?? and with that kind of range and error associated with the prediction (20 million units) you think it makes sense to talk about a 2 million deficit??
    3) NEWS FLASH!! cellphone sales are cyclical.. eveyone knows this.. sales dip EVERY YEAR in Q2.. how do you not know this? even in the face of this idiotic prediction an 85% YOY increase is light years ahead of anyone in the business and is a huge bump YOY!
    4) as others have stated.. iPhone sales plateaued because everyone was waiting EXTRA long for the iPhone 5 to be release.. AGAIN EVERYONE KNOWS THIS.. this is no mystery.. that's why iPhone sales plateaued and why when the 4S came out the flood gates open and there was a huge up take.. why does everyone know this except the writer of this article?
    theFunkDoctorSpoc
  • Apple's Q1 (Christmas Season) compared to Winter Q2

    Makes no sense to compare Q1 sales to Q2 sales without comparing Q2 2011 sales. [b] Bold [/b]Absolute nonsense.
    the Data Ferret
  • One wonders if Zack wrote this in bitterness over his iPhone fiasco

    After all, it's about as well thought through and executed as Botelli's approach to football.

    That or as a criminologist or whatever it's a bad idea to run into writing a blog about numbers and financials etc.
    ego.sum.stig
  • The first cracks in the monolith

    have appeared. Even mighty Apple can't sell as many phones without a major holiday occurring?!? Say it isn't so.

    This is news?
    dhmccoy