You might not be able to tell by Wall Street’s reaction, but Apple delivered stellar earnings during their 2011 fourth fiscal quarter. Still, while profits increased by over 50%, analysts were expecting stronger iPhone sales even though Apple recorded 17.07 million units sold, an increase of 21% from the same quarter in 2010.
Now before people go reading into Apple’s missed iPhone target, it’s important to recognize that Apple’s 2011 Q4 didn’t have an new flagship iPhone to carry it through the Summer as previous years’ fourth quarters had. To that end, its arguably impressive that Apple’s iPhone 4 continued to sell as well as it did in throughout the Summer weeks when anticipation for an iPhone 5 was building.
On that note, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer admitted as much during the Q&A portion of Apple’s earnings conference call yesterday, calling the iPhone 5 rumors “pervasive” during the second half of the quarter. “Apple’s secrecy”, Oppenheimer said, “creates a certain amount of vacuum, which, as we all know, the Internet abhors and then fills with rumors.”
We can’t tell you with precision with how many units we’d sold if there weren’t any rumors. We believe it was substantial. That’s why we called it out. Go out and talk to a group of customers and you’ll get a good answer.
Indeed, rumors of an impending and completely re-designed iPhone made the rounds quite consistently this past Summer. The reality is that Apple’s next-gen iPhone, and its ongoing delay, was without a doubt the Apple story de’jure this Summer. More than that, some reports claimed Apple would release two new iPhone models this Summer. And then as the weeks went on, the rumored release date for Apple’s next-gen iPhone kept on getting pushed farther and farther back.
It stands to a reason that a large number of people chose to temporarily delay upgrading their iPhone until Apple announced a new model. This holds especially true for iPhone 3GS owners who were at the end of their 2-year contract period. After all, why upgrade to the iPhone 4 when a new, snazzier and shinier model was just around the corner?