A cup of mastery, a dash of diversity, and a whole lot of iPhones
All the news, rumors, and tips you missed this week.
By David Price, Editor, MacworldJAN 29, 2022 2:00 am PST
Welcome to the new home for Apple Breakfast! If you’re a reader of Macworld’s UK site, you’ll recognize this column that will now appear on Macworld.com every Saturday. If you’re new, this is our weekly collection of all the Apple news you missed this week, in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
It’s that time again: Apple this week announced its quarterly earnings, giving pundits a chance to gloat, weep or prognosticate on the future of the industry.
We had inklings beforehand, thanks to enthusiastic analysts, that this was going to be an earnings report to remember. And, sure enough, Apple broke nearly all the records it set last year, regained its smartphone crown in China, and recorded growth in every segment except for iPads. It was a phenomenal performance.
The truly impressive thing, however, was the context in which all this was achieved. Apple had warned at the last earnings call that shortages and delays would plague its most important quarter, and there’s little evidence to suggest that Tim Cook was just managing expectations: analysts agreed, for one thing, and we saw the shortages with our own eyes when we went hunting for Black Friday deals in November. The chip shortage took a toll this quarter, and Apple still made historical quantities of cash.
Partly this is a function of diverse revenue streams, something which Apple has worked hard on in recent years and which limits the damage the chip shortage was able to cause. Accessories and wearables escaped unscathed, as seemingly did the Mac, but in the long term the most important win could prove to be Services. One day, perhaps, Apple will be known for selling software and services more than for selling hardware.
But we’re not quite there yet. Because the other part of the equation is the era-defining success story that is the iPhone, a device that came here to chew bubblegum and generate unprecedented customer demand, and is all out of bubblegum. Apple put in the hard work early on by marketing the iPhone lifestyle (creativity, affluence, privacy, ease of use) rather than any individual iPhone handset, and now reaps the reward in the form of mega demand for even incremental upgrades, and even long after pundits predicted it would have saturated the market.
Apple could have sold even more iPhones than it did–Cook didn’t put a hard figure on this but noted that the overall shortfall was greater than the $6 billion from last year–and the fact it shifted as many units as it did is testament to the unsung mastery of the company’s logistics operation, and presumably, a few favors called in via intense phone calls. (It may also have been about priorities to a certain extent. In the Q&As, Cook implied that Apple may have sacrificed some iPad supply to prioritize the iPhone, although he denied this was a significant factor.)
So it’s all good at Cupertino for another quarter. Although Jason Snell was left wondering where the company is headed – which is one of the problems caused when you keep breaking your own records. Time to manage expectations, perhaps.
With news breaking that Apple TV+ crept up to a feeble 5% market share in the US last quarter, David Price explains how Apple can beat Netflix – if it will only change strategy now. The key is to stop obsessing over original programming and embrace the rerun.
Communication should be the iPhone’s strongest suit, but it’s not. Dan Moren has some ideas on how it could be.
Peloton is struggling. Maybe Apple can help out by sliding in with an offer that can’t be refused.
The Macalope has issues with everyone’s folding phone strategy—except Apple’s that is.
Apple’s run-in with the Dutch competition authority continues to drag on. Earlier this month the company grudgingly agreed to let developers of dating apps use alternative payment methods, but apparently, that won’t do. A fine of €5m will be levied every week until Apple finishes its homework properly.