Apple, Inc. Is About to Stop Bragging About iPhone Launch Sales

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: Apple.

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Every year since 2008, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has taken the opportunity to brag about how well the iPhone sold during its launch weekend. This figure has been steadily climbing over the years as Apple released its latest and greatest every year.

Year

Model

Launch Weekend Sales

2008

iPhone 3G

1 million

2009

iPhone 3GS

1 million

2010

iPhone 4

1.7 million

2011

iPhone 4s

4 million

2012

iPhone 5

5 million

2013

iPhone 5s and 5c

9 million

2014

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

10 million

2015

iPhone 5s and 6s Plus

13 million

Data source: Apple.

Well, it looks like the Mac maker is calling it quits with these disclosures. In a statement to various media outlets, including Reuters, Apple says it will stop sharing launch weekend sales this year.

Say no more

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The company says that launch weekend sales are not a good indication of demand, as iPhones at launch are supply constrained. In other words, the metric only measures supply and not demand and, as such, is not particularly useful for investors anymore. "These initial sales will be governed by supply, not demand, and we have decided that it is no longer a representative metric for our investors and customers," according to Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet.

The thing is that iPhone sales have long been supply constrained at launch, but that has never stopped Apple from sharing the data before. So the company's rationale for discontinuing the disclosure seems a little weak. Most years, there is some crucial component that creates some bottleneck within Apple's supply chain that limits production, and shipping times on new models typically slip pretty quickly.

It's probably not a coincidence that iPhone unit sales have seemingly peaked, with Apple expectedly putting up its second decline in unit sales last quarter. Instead, what may really be happening here is that Apple expects the iPhone 7 launch weekend sales to be less than or equal to last year's figure, in which case it already knows ahead of time that it doesn't want to share a number unless it's larger.

This all plays into a broader storyline that's been happening over the past year or so. Apple has been trying very hard to shift the narrative away from quarterly unit sales and toward recurring revenue sources like services and digital content purchases. What better way to accomplish that goal than to share less data around unit sales?

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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.