7 things you need to know about Apple (Q1 2017 edition)

Apple CEO Tim Cook is eager to assure investors that there's plenty of life left in the iPhone. And why not, given that Android users are switching to iPhone in record numbers.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

While Apple's earnings report is where we get the raw facts about how the company is doing, there can be some real nuggets of information buried in the follow-up conference call.

Here are seven new things we know about Apple:

#1: There's plenty of life left in the iPhone

Apple's heavy reliance on a single product might make some worried that the company is a one-trick pony, but CEO Tim Cook wants to reassure all that there's plenty of life left in the pony.

Cook: "I think the smartphone is still in the early innings of the game. I think there's lots more to do."

He goes on to talk about home automation, health, CarPlay technology, and how enterprise usage is growing.

#2: A big iPad fumble

iPad sales and average selling price (ASP) took a huge hit during the last quarter, and one reason is that Apple, usually the king of the supply chain, suffered a big fumble.

Cook: "... we did under-call the number of iPads that would be in demand for the quarter, and that compounded a shortage issue that we had with one of our suppliers."

However, given that Apple missed the mark by a several million -- Apple sold some 13 million, while analysts were anticipating something around the 16 million mark -- it's unlikely that supply chain issues were the only thing that affected the iPad.

#3: Apple could have sold more iPhones if it had them

The wild analyst estimates of 80 million iPhone sold during the quarter could very well have come true but for supply constraints.

Cook: "We did have an exceptional quarter with iPhone, and that was with the backdrop of not predicting the demand very well on the iPhone 7 Plus and therefore being in constraint on it through the quarter."

However, Apple is playing a balancing act here. Sell too many iPhones in Q1 2017 and the natural fall-off seen in Q2 looks a lot bigger. Better to push some of those sales gently forward by making small tweaks to availability.

#4: Cook is "bullish" on the iPad, but don't expect anything to change during the next quarter

Cook tries to put a brave face on the iPad by hinting at things to come.

Cook: "But again, beyond the 90-day clock, I'm very bullish on iPad."

I think it's pretty obvious that Cook is talking about an iPad revamp, but not one happening during Q2 2017.

#5: The iPhone 7 is popular in China. And iPads. And Macs.

While plenty of virtual ink has been spilled on how Chinese smartphones pose a huge danger to the iPhone in the US, the Chinese love the iPhone.

Cook: "... what we've seen is that iPhone 7 was the best-selling smartphone in China during the quarter, according to Kantar. Singles Day, which is a huge day in China, as you know, we were the most popular U.S. brand on Alibaba."

iPads and Macs are also big in China.

Cook: " And Mac revenue was up double digits year over year. iPad units were also up double digit in Mainland China, which was obviously different than the trend that we saw in the balance of the world."

#6: Android users are defecting to iPhone in record numbers

"Switchers" are an important metric for Apple, and represent Android users (along with users of other mobile platforms, which is a negligible number) that made the switch to the iPhone. And according to Cook, those numbers are strong.

Cook: "If you look at the absolute number of upgraders, it was the highest that we've seen in any quarter. And if you look at the switcher number, it's the highest that we've seen in any quarter."

It's likely that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fires help buoy the switcher number a bit.

#7: Cook keen to emphasize just how far Apple has come and how much it has done in only a few years

Remember that Apple is a company that wants you to focus less on the tech specs and more on the story of how technology can change lives, and Cook delivered just that with a short speech on how Apple allows people to do things today that only a few years ago would have seemed like magic.

Cook: "I'm personally using HomeKit accessories and the Home app to integrate iOS into my home routine. Now when I say good morning to Siri, my house lights come on and my coffee starts brewing. When I go to the living room to relax in the evening, I use Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And when I leave the house, a simple tap on my iPhone turns the lights off, adjusts the thermostat down, and locks the doors. When I return to my house in the evening, as I near my home, the house prepares itself for my arrival automatically by using a simple geofence. This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago, and it's here today with iOS and HomeKit."

All earning call quotes provided by Seeking Alpha.

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