Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, made a rare and surprising admission during his company’s otherwise stellar quarterly earnings call this week, saying that he and his team never stopped to consider how the ongoing battery replacement program would affect users’ decisions to upgrade their iPhone.
While the company reported yet another record-smashing quarterly revenue on Thursday, iPhone sales were ironically down by 1 percent relative to the same quarter last year. This is a conundrum which, given that its hyped-up iPhone X has been available for a while now, prompted investors on the call to ask Cook whether they should be concerned about slowing iPhone upgrade rates relative to the fact that users with older models affected by degrading batteries may simply opt to replace them for $ 29 instead of buying a new iPhone.
Cook asserted in response that he couldn’t honestly answer them because Apple “did not consider, in any way, shape, or form, what it would do to upgrade rates.”
“We did it because we thought it was the right thing to do for our customers,” Cook said, referring to his company’s ongoing program that affords iPhone 6 and 6s users the opportunity to receive fresh battery replacements amid Apple’s ‘planned obsolescence’ crisis. “I don’t know what effect it will have for our investors. It was not in our thought process of deciding to do what we’ve done.”
Defending an Icon
While a large part of Apple’s business is made up of selling new iPhones, Cook went on to rush to the defense of his company’s older, legacy iPhone models, lauding their “fantastic reliability” while pointing to continued growth in the “previously-owned” iPhone market.
This growth, Cook believes, is being fueled in part by customers deciding to hand down their older iPhone models to family or friends, while using trade-ins and/or carrier incentives to get a new device for themselves, adding that he believes customers who hand down their devices are doing a “positive thing,” because “the more people on iPhone, the better.”
It’s certainly encouraging to hear Cook maintain his infectiously-optimistic outlook on the iPhone — though as he said, himself, we really don’t know how the latest battery replacement program is, or is not, playing into the equation.
Worth noting, as we mentioned, is that while Apple shattered revenue estimates this quarter, the gains came amid less than enthusing iPhone sales, which fell short of Wall Street’s estimates and sent the company’s stock, (NASDAQ; AAPL), down at least 3.5 percent as of Friday afternoon trading.
And even though Apple is expected to shake things up this fall with a trio of new iPhone models, including a refreshed 5.8-inch iPhone XI, a larger, 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, and a 6.1-inch iPhone boasting LCD and Face ID, the current slate of predictions concerning them paint a rather disappointing picture of how, or to what extent, they’ll perform.