iPhone 7 Sales Figures: What Is Apple Trying To Hide? – Before the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus went on sale to the public, Apple AAPL -1.18% CEO Tim Cook ensured that the markets and the media knew that Cupertino would not be releasing the first-weekend sales figures for the smartphones. Rightly pointing out that this would be more a measure of its efficiency in moving stock rather than the demand for the handset, the opportunity to post a triumphant press release was declined.
What is Apple trying to achieve by hiding the figures?
The team at Localytics has been looking at the data gathered over the first weekend of the new handsets to see how many owners started using apps on their new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus smartphones. As such these charts do not represent direct sales data, but indicate the trend of adoption. Localytics is also able to draw on historical data from the launch of the iPhone 6S family to act as a performance guide.
In the first weekend of sales, the iPhone 7 picked up 1.11 percent of the iPhone market, while the iPhone 7 Plus picked up 0.21 percent. This compares to the iPhone 6S’s 1.37 percent and the 6S Plus’s share of 0.35 percent over a similar period in 2015. Although the percentage is down, remember that Apple has pushed more sales online and many of those handsets have not yet been delivered. Localytics’ Caitlin O’Connell:
This year, many people decided to order online to avoid long lines which means these users will have to wait a couple weeks to get their hands on their new phone. Given that Apple is expected to sell 13 million phones this weekend, beating the first weekend of the ‘6S’ models last year, these adoption numbers are sure to rise once more users begin to receive their phones.
Looking at the figures from Localytics, it doesn’t feel like Apple has very much to hide in the first-weekend sales of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Yes the percentages are down, but Apple’s iOS user base has increased. The question of whether the lower percentages reflect increased first weekend sales, stable sales, or a drop in handsets getting in to customers’ hands is a finely balanced one.
What would not be finely balanced if the numbers had been published would be the media coverage. The knives would be out if sales dropped, and they would likely still be sharp if the sales figures remained stable. With the best will in the world, the logistics of the supply chain mean that a modest rise in sales might have been all that Cook could have hoped for.
Releasing the first-weekend sales figures offered a significant risk of bad publicity and very little benefit with a positive result.
By skipping the sales announcement Apple draws the heat out of the first weekend sales. The iPhone 7 family of devices have not tanked but in a world where every year is expected to be bigger and better in the tech world, staying stable would have cast Apple in a negative light. Apple did not release the numbers because it was a risk that Tim Cook was not willing to take.
It also has a long-term benefit. The press will no longer expect to see these initial sales figures on the launch of any Apple device in the future, be it a refresh on the MacBook line, an update to the smaller iPhone SE range, or even next year’s presumptively titled iPhone 8.
Don’t forget that the removal of the headphone jack and the switch to a virtual home key in the iPhone 7 have drawn the heat out of the arguments against these changes before they make a significant contribution to the design of the iPhone 8. Removing the pressure of releasing the initial sales spike is just one more way that Tim Cook and his team at Apple are using the iPhone 7 family to prepare the ground for a new approach with the tenth-anniversary iPhone.