back to article As Apple sales slide, Tim Cook says fanbois will tolerate higher iPhone prices

Apple has reported its first decline in revenues since 2019 as sales of Macs and iPhones both slowed – the latter in the wake of a shutdown at iPhone City, Foxconn's factory in China, late last year. For the quarter ended on December 31, Apple's Q1 of its fiscal 2024, it posted revenue of $117.2 billion, down 5 percent year- …

  1. trevorde Silver badge

    Veblen strategy

    More expensive luxury goods bought by fewer rich people

    1. Handy Plough

      Re: Veblen strategy

      Yes. Apple are doomed. /s

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple are doomed

        I read one report yesterday that said, Apple could carry on as a company, not sell anything and pay all their staff for almost 4 years just from their cash reserves.

        Doomed? If Apple is doomed then an awful lot of other companies will go out of business before they do, unfortunately.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Apple are doomed

          Their cash reserves would cover about three years operating costs around 2019 or so.

          That's how much profit they've made in a mere three/four years.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Veblen strategy

        No, actually selling Veblen goods is a good strategy today. All the luxury goods companies are doing great. Before the French Revolution it was the same <G>

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Veblen strategy

      Yes, but thus far Apple has managed to remain "aspirational". I've never wanted an I-Phone but have owned and paid for "flagship" models from other manufacturers, though I got out of the 2-year replacement trap years ago. Now, 4 years into my Samsung S10e and considering a replacement, or maybe just a new battery, I'm not really interested in any flagships. I might be an outlier but I can imagine attitudes shifting in general and Apple could, in a couple of years, find itself in a similar position as with the Macs in the mid 1990s: people loved them but there was little or no innovation.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Veblen strategy

        The flagship bubble has burst, is anybody impressed by someone's phone these days? They are a commodity items, and only mugs pay top dollar for something that will be mainstream in a year.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Veblen strategy

          I think it depends on what the market is.

          The issue may be nothing to do with the functionality and everything to do with fashion. There are huge numbers of people out there who will queue up to get the latest version, or pre-order (where the hell did that ridiculous term come from) something just to have it new.

          Most people who are reading El Reg are more than happy with a device that is a year or more old when they buy it because as long as it works, that is what matters. We also save huge amounts of money!!!!!

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Veblen strategy

      Priced for what the market will stand and history has shown that when it comes to iThingys, the market has very deep pockets.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    "And so I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category."

    And so I think people are willing to be bent over and really stretched to get the best they can afford in that category.

    Fixed it for him...

  3. gbchew

    Apple doesn't have customers, it has hostages.

    1. Raton que Ruge

      Apple is a cult. I guess that's much the same as taking hostages.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        "Apple is a Cult"

        The Children of God 'n' Delicious...?

      2. Lis Bronze badge

        @Raton que Ruge

        Apple is a cult?

        Linux penguinistas are saying "hold my beer".

  4. nematoad Silver badge

    Such a nice man.

    " It contains their contacts and their health information and their banking information and their smart home and so many different parts of their lives, their payment vehicle ..."

    Get a man by the balls and his wallet will follow.

    Lock-in, what a way to do business.

  5. captain veg Silver badge

    I've never owned an iThing, but once upon a time an American intern in our French offices proudly took delivery of a new iPhone. Being Californian he was very pleased with the fact that the packaging declared "Designed in California". I couldn't help but point out that the designer was a Brit.

    Well, at least that Brit lives in California.

    Manufacturing tech devices in China at whatever is their prevailing rate, I don't know what, but I doubt that it's more than a few dollars per unit, and flogging them to Californians for thousands of dollars is, um, good business.

    I wonder if it's sustainable. Were Apple to suddenly announce that henceforward its products would be assembled in California, I can't help but imagine that this would enhance the brand image. It might impact the profitability by literally some percentage points, but leave it obscenely profitable.


    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Pride over where the designer happened to be is a bit crazy, but if I wanted to defend him, I'd point out that it was designed by more than one person, and the other people were more likely to be Americans or even Californians by birth, if that matters. Although probably the design team will have people in multiple countries from even more national backgrounds, because they only said "Designed in California", not "Designed exclusively by Californians".

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Apple used to make things in CA but they moved it offshore to increase profits, if I recall correctly it turned a gross profit on an iPhone/iPod from 46c on the dollar to 71c.

      The problem that Apple's got is that the Chinese can not only assemble things like phones, they can also design them. Anyone who's been following the Huawei saga closely will know that Huawei phones were not only better than iPhones in value for money terms but also better quality -- they were the largest selling brand in the world before the US government blacklist. Since Huawei also make the infrastructure equipment and had a large lead in modern technologies such as 5G the only way that traditional companies like Apple could compete would be to try to shut the competition down. This might work in the short term but ultimately its a losing strategy so while companies like Apple might have a lot of cash on hand (where is it parked?) it doesn't have that much of a future outside any walled garden it can control.

      1. Apprentice

        Errr.. Huawei were not the biggest selling brand, they were second to Samsung for market share. But they were very healthy competition for Samsung and Apple, and stood a chance of taking the crown had they not been sanctioned.

      2. ICL1900-G3

        Very happy with my Huawei P40, does everything I need and has a superb camera. Bought for a tiny amount on ebay from someone who couldn't live without Google. I see that as a bonus.

      3. Baudwalk

        >>>Huawei phones were not only better than iPhones in value for money terms but also better quality<<<

        Err. no.

        Huawei's Bluetooth was (still is?) notoriously incompatible/troublesome to work with.

        And their non-OLED screens were cheap looking too, IMHO

        I'm on Android, but Huawei would be on my no-buy list, sanctions related issues regardless.

        1. Boozearmada

          subjective, most found the P30 to be an outstanding phone

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      California looks like a nice place to live, so a consumer might assume a company (or a university) there can attract top talent from around the world. "Designed in California" thus carries a stronger positive message than "Designed by Californians".

      "This album was recorded on British mixing desks using really expensive German microphones" was a sleeve note I read once. I guess we Brits make good hifi because it's too rainy to play outside and we're too British to spend our indoor hours making love.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        I guess we Brits make good hifi... we're too British to spend our indoor hours making love.

        Aaah! That explains why I was left out in the rain for going to the studio when my better half suggested making sweet music! I'm soooo British!

        -- Awesome sleeve note, Dave! --

        [Icon: lucky I took my coat!]

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          As George Mikes said: Continental people have a sex life; the English have hot-water bottles.

          And they have difficulties heating them nowadays...

  6. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    1st gen iPhone to go under the hammer

    Unopened first-generation iPhone set to sell for $50,000 at US auction

  7. Winkypop Silver badge

    Obscene profits

    Grossly underpaid factory workers

    All praise the god of Avarice (may dividends be upon him)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    luxury industry CEO, here

    "Apple is betting big that people are prepared to dig deep to get hold of the newest and latest iPhone, with Cook apparently confident that residents of the walled garden would never want to hop over into Android land, and will keep upgrading rather than sticking to their old iPhones.

    When asked last night about whether the market would tolerate a hike in iPhone ASPs during a "tough macro environment," Cook said: "I wouldn't want to predict, but I would say... the iPhone has become so integral into people's lives. It contains their contacts and their health information and their banking information and their smart home and so many different parts of their lives, their payment vehicle and – for many people. And so I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category.""

    Classical analysis of a luxury industry droid. Except, at least officially, Apple is not in this market, although, of course, we all know they are knee deep in it, now.

    But, yes, Cook, one can live with no Iphone at all, and move to Android where you can still find very good phones under 300 bucks. Paiement ? it's all on Android as well. Contacts ? Yeah, easy to move to any Android phone. I'm even sure there is a specific app for this ! Health info ? Why bother about them from the last years ? You literally wear them with you !

    No, really, the ma, is in complete denial of his job as a tech company CEO ...

    Signed, A gamer, who has multiple (old) Macbooks, never owned an iphone, and is spending way too long in gamers' forums, teaching gamers they're fucked with their 3 kUSD macbook for gaming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: luxury industry CEO, here

      Having worked in the luxury industry, Apple in not in that market.

      Luxury goods, the real ones, last generations...

  9. Silverburn

    As an apple Fanboi, I can categorically tell Mr Cook that youve successfully convinced me not to upgrade any of my gear any time soon.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      We will just sweat our assets for longer and only replace when they *have* to be replaced

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      I've just upgraded my mid 2015 15in MBP to an M1 16in MBP and the difference is dramatic. Work all day on battery power and no fans blasting away almost as soon as I open Photoshop.

      After seven years of faithful service, the old one now runs AlmaLinux and serves as my wordpress dev system. It was well worth the money. YMMV naturally.

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Indeed, I am still trying to understand the rational behind the price of the phones.

      How can an iPhone 12 be sold at the same price as the iPhone 13?

      Was not the v13 supposed to be "highly" superior to the v12?

  10. osxtra

    Brake Fix

    My trusty '09 MBP is still trucking away, though not used nearly as much these days after getting a Frame.Work machine last fall.

    There's a '12 Mini laying around somewhere that I keep meaning to press back into service, though am not sure exactly what I'd have it do.

    What have these two Fruity devices in common?

    User repairability and upgrades; keeping the OS out of my way when I tell it to; and the fact that I haven't purchased an Apple product in over ten years.

    The MBP has had most of its innards replaced over time. But, being a Core 2 Duo with "only" 8 gigs of ram, I was really only using it as a bigger screen than what the tablet has when on the road and needing to dial into the shop to fix something.

    While the Frame.Work device is great, haven't quite gotten around to loading OpenCore in a VM on it yet, so it's either Fedora or 'Doze.

    The main desktop, though, is running OpenCore and Monterrey; those OC folks are amazing. Back when Catalina got loaded (still Clover then) I had to give up on my now-aging - though very powerful for its time - Titan XP, switching to a Titan Black with, at 6GB ram, only half what the XP had. (For reasons left to another comment, I prefer nVidia.)

    And don't even get me started on locking root out of the file system. Sure, for a vast percentage of users that's probably a good safety feature, but just whose machine is it, anyway? I (purport to) know how to operate the thing, and understand the risks when running as boss. When I say "sudo mv" to something whose target is in /System, it had better damn well work.

    Or, what if I *like* still having bash as my main shell, and don't feel like running sed on the first line of all scripts to change from /bin/bash to a recently compiled /usr/bin/bash?

    I shouldn't have to create a snapshot & bless it just to keep things usable.

    Overall what they've done to BSD is great, but this overwhelming need to control the entire experience, and keep folks from working on their own machines, is antithetical to the spirit of the company J&W started.

    Sure, eventually, they'll have moved away from Intel hardware, but by then one of two things will have happened:

    They'll go back to letting folks mod their own machines. Memory and storage, that's all I'm asking.

    They'll stop putting a gag over the fingers of folks who actually know how to operate the device.

    Alternatively, folks will figure out how to hack their OS with 3rd-party M* chips, just as they have with Intel.

    Personally, am not holding my breath. I like OSX, I really do, but don't use any of their native apps. It's just a pretty screen. No Maps or FaceTime or any of that, more iTerm & Vim/VS Code/Pulsar (when it matures a bit). It's just a tool, and it's *my* tool. The manufacturer should not obstruct my either repairing or operating it.

    (The overall tenor of this also explains why I've never purchased one of their phones.)

    Hopefully, eventually Adobe will create a 'nix version of their own rental software, so I don't have to learn Gimp/Inkscape/Scribus/Audacity/etc., and thus also don't have to consider going back to 'doze as my daily driver.

    As to the sliding sales, sure, all this is part of it - I can't be the only one tired of their shenanigans - but part of it is also surely a simple case of glut. Eventually we'll just run out of folks that either need - or can comfortably afford - the latest shiny bling, especially as it's really no shinier than that other bling they just got a little while ago.

  11. willyslick

    Apple seems to have solved the riddle of creating luxury products that sell widely enough to be considered mass-market. Their strength is their brand.

    They will no doubt extend this brand power to other products like cars, household goods, etc in the future where - even a fraction of the success of the iphone will bring them a windfall. The market was highly skeptical before the launch that Apple could extend thier prowess from computers and tablets to mobile phones - 2.24 billion units later, I would think there are not too many skeptics left. Whether you love or hate the products - it seems foolish to bet against Apple's continued success in the future.

  12. osxtra

    Yes, just waiting for the day I can go to the grocery store for an Apple Apple... ;)

  13. Boozearmada

    Yep, there's none so blind as Apple fanbois

  14. Boozearmada

    Best bang for buck I've found the last few years are Xiaomi / Poco

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