Apple CEO Tim Cook took the easy way out.
In a lousy PR move, Cook rocked Wall Street Jan. 3 with his shocker announcement that the company’s revenues would fall below guidance that he provided only 60 days ago.
He blamed China, which generates 20 percent of Apple’s revenues, for the financial woes, saying the company “did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration” there.
In his Jan. 2 letter to investors, Cook noted that China’s reported GNP growth during the September quarter was the second lowest in the last 25 years. “We believe the economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the US,” he wrote.
Apple, indeed, has been hammered by China’s lackluster growth and economic uncertainty posed by president Trump’s tariff war.
And Apple won’t be alone. Kevin Hassett, White House Council of Economic Advisors chief, said Jan. 3 that “a heck a lot of US companies that have sales in China are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China.”
Note to president Trump: that dire forecast is not good news for your prime economic indicator, the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
But back to Tim: Wouldn’t it have been nice if Cook took some of the blame for Apple’s predicament?
The lack of a breakthrough product surely contributed to Apple’s not-so-hot outlook.
When was the last time you got excited about visiting one of its stores? They once were event spaces with long lines of eager customers each time a product was launched? There’s no buzz there now.
The Chinese apparently have been avoiding Apple stores in droves. “As the climate of mounting uncertainty weighed on financial markets, the effects appeared to reach consumers as well, with traffic to our retail stores and our channel partners in China declining as the quarter progressed,” wrote Cook. “And market data has shown that the contraction in Greater China’s smartphone market has been particularly sharp.”
The company has been milking its flagship iPhone for all its worth, introducing new generations of the smartphone that are barely different from their predecessors.
Cook admitted, “iPhone upgrades also were not as strong as we thought they would be.”
I’m a long-time fan of Apple but my trusty 2013 MacBook Pro and iPhone 6s Plus work just fine.
There’s no reason for me visit an Apple store. On second thought, I occasionally drop by the Apple store on the balcony of Grand Central Station to take advantage of its nifty view of the teeming masses.
Tim has to reach into Steve Jobs’ bag of tricks to get Apple back on track.
He hinted of better days ahead. “More importantly, we are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services,” wrote Cook. “Apple innovates like no other company on earth, and we are not taking our foot off the gas.”
It’s time to press the pedal to the metal, Tim.