NEW YORK — Apple just announced its worst quarter in over a decade.
On Tuesday afternoon, Apple reported that its sales and profit both fell last quarter — a rarity for a company that has been growing at a rapid pace, even as it has become the largest technology company on the planet.
The last time Apple’s sales fell year over year was the first quarter of 2003. At that time, the PowerMac was still the company’s bestseller. Apple had sold a grand total of 611,000 iPods. And Apple hadn’t yet launched the iTunes Music Store.
Now, more than two-thirds of Apple’s revenue is made up of iPhone sales. So where the iPhone goes, so goes Apple — and last quarter was a miserable one for Apple’s signature gadget. IPhone sales fell for the first time in history.
But ever-sinking iPad sales and flat-lining Mac demand didn’t help Apple’s case either.
In a prepared statement, Tim Cook said “strong macroeconomic headwinds” impacted Apple’s sales and profit. Wall Street analysts had predicted that Apple would have a somewhat lousy quarter. But they didn’t think it would be quite this bad.
Apple’s stock plummeted 7% in after-hours trading, to below $100 a share.
First quarter of 2015: 61.2 million First quarter of 2016: 51.2 million, down 16%
It was going to be hard for Apple to beat iPhone sales from the same quarter a year ago, when the iPhone 6 debuted in China. Apple released the iPhone 6S to China in September along with the United States, so it didn’t get the first-quarter iPhone boost that it had from Chinese customers a year earlier.
Apple actually sold slightly more iPhones last quarter than Wall Street analysts had expected.
First quarter of 2015: 12.6 million First quarter of 2016: 10.2 million, down 19%
IPad sales fell for the ninth straight quarter, though they inched past analysts’ forecasts.
First quarter of 2015: 4.6 million First quarter of 2016: 4 million, down 12%
PC sales fell by 10% worldwide last quarter, according to Gartner. Apple had been outpacing the overall industry, but this is the second straight quarter in which Mac sales performed worse than the overall PC market.
Mac sales were relatively abysmal, badly missing Wall Street analysts’ expectations. They expected 600,000 more Macs to be sold during the quarter.
First quarter of 2015: $13.6 billion First quarter of 2016: $10.5 billion, down 22%
Apple’s profit hadn’t fallen since the last quarter of 2013.
Last time Apple reported earnings, it posted the most profitable quarter in corporate history.
First quarter of 2015: $58 billion First quarter of 2016: $50.6 billion, down 13%
The double-digit sales loss was Apple’s first since the fall of 2001. At that point, Windows 98 was the dominant computer operating system, and no one knew what an iPod was, because it hadn’t been introduced yet.
But for some perspective, Apple is expected to have produced more revenue in an off-quarter than the company posted in all of 2009.
Current quarter’s sales
Second quarter of 2016 forecast: $41 billion to $43 billion in sales
Apple’s forecast was well below Wall Street analysts’ initial expectations. They had been expecting sales of $47.4 billion for the current quarter before Apple issued its outlook.
It’s even farther below the $49.6 billion in sales Apple posted during the second quarter of 2015.
Apple analysts have their collective fingers crossed that the iPhone 7 can reboot the Apple sales growth machine. In the meantime, the next few quarters are going to be stinkers.