Apple boosted by streaming services despite lockdown
Apple saw growth for the first three months of the year, as falling device sales in China were offset by demand for its streaming services due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Sales climbed to $58.3bn (£46.2bn), up from $58bn in the same period in 2019 and beating expectations of $54.5bn.
Apple boss Tim Cook said the firm saw a “record for streaming” and “phenomenal” growth in the online store.
He added that “China is headed in the right direction”.
Despite the coronavirus lockdown hurting iPhone supply due to Chinese factories closing, and a drop in demand for devices in China – a major market for Apple – during February and March, Mr Cook told investors in an earnings call on Thursday: “I don’t think I can remember a quarter where I’ve been prouder of Apple.”
Apple said iPhone sales for the quarter fell 7.2% to $28.9bn, compared to $31bn in the previous year.
However, its wearables, home and accessories division – which produces the Apple Watch and AirPods – rose 22.5% to £6.3bn, while services – such as subscriptions to Apple Music and Apple TV – jumped 16.6% to $13.3bn like-for-like.
Although business in China has not fully rebounded, Apple said all of its stores in the country had reopened by mid-March and sales were improving.
Net income for the six months ending 28 March 2020 rose 6.2% to $33.5bn, up from $25.9bn in the same period in 2019.
Mr Cook said Apple was in a strong position and that its supply chain was “robust” and “back up and running at full-throttle at the end of March”.
“While we can’t say for certain how many chapters are in this book, we can be assured that the ending will be a good one,” he told investors.
Apple said it would not be issuing forecasts for the following quarter, given the ongoing uncertainties of the lockdown, which has seen its sales move online or to curb-side pick-ups.
Research firm eMarketer’s principal analyst Yoram Wurmser said Apple’s performance was “pretty solid”.
“Growth of 1% in this environment is impressive, particularly given some of the extent of Apple’s exposure to the earlier lockdowns in Asia,” said Mr Wurmser.
“The biggest bright spot for Apple was services, which grew 17% year-over-year. As people spent more time on their phones while locked away at home, they clearly were spending more money in the App Store and on some of the subscription services offered by Apple, including Apple Music and Arcade.”
According to Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, the rise in demand for wearables and services is an encouraging one for Apple, given recent lacklustre iPhone sales growth.
“Despite plenty of talk around services, Apple is still very much a hardware business. And even before coronavirus, conditions weren’t perfect,” she said.
Ms Lund-Yates added that Apple’s decision to price the new iPhone SE at half the cost of some of Apple’s most recent models is a good way to convince customers to upgrade during the lockdown.