It is a company that is always tight-lipped about its finances between its quarterly results, so Wednesday's letter from Tim Cook warning Apple investors that the outlook had suddenly darkened was a bombshell which rocked the market.
For its fiscal first quarter ended December 29, the tech giant now expects revenue of about $84 billion.
The company deserves credit for showing strong growth in China despite declining smartphone demand there, economic strains and declining market share.
"The firm alleges that Cook's letter blaming business in China for the revenue shortfall is contrary to what he told investors during the company's fourth quarter conference call on November 1, where Cook is quoted as saying, "[Our] business in China was very strong last quarter.
Nationalistic sentiment was likely intensified by Apple apparently ignoring a Chinese court-ordered ban on iPhone sales in a case involving USA chipmaker Qualcomm, according to the analyst. The iOS developer community in China is among the most innovative, creative and vibrant in the world.
Apple's third-quarter shipments in China fell 13 percent from a year earlier to 7.5 million, IDC reported.
"If people aren't buying iPhones, they're probably not buying everything else", Zandi reasoned.
Those reasons don't fully explain iPhones' declining market share in China, especially in a quarter when it released new models, which used to be welcomed by Chinese consumers with much fanfare.
Now, this statement about battery replacements having an impact on iPhone sales raises a number of questions.
Munster and Thompson said it would take "a new product category", or large acquisition to allow Apple to regain its momentum. According to market researchers with IDC, "worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline by 3% in 2018 before returning to low single-digit growth in 2019 and through 2022". In China, there were less than 100 million smartphone shipments in the first three months, and the second quarter saw a 5.9% year-over-year decline.
Experts say many Chinese consumers are likely to reject Apple's iPhone price increases and instead buy less costly models from competitors. "China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple. because they build their product mostly in China".
The price gap is one reason Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone sales from April through September past year to seize the No. 2 spot behind industry leader Samsung, according to the research firm International Data Corp. While it's unclear whether Cook also considers him a friend, Trump has made it clear that he likes the Apple CEO.
Changes in smartphone buying trends in China, and Apple's falling market share there, were obvious, but Apple brushed off any concerns or ignored reality. Some analysts think iPhone demand has slowed, especially for the iPhone XR and iPhone XS.
Additional major American brands - including Ford Motor Company and Tiffany - have also recently suffered sharp sales drops in China.
Krystal Hu covers technology and trade for Yahoo Finance.
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