Apple has reported its third quarter in a row of falling iPhone sales and revenue, but sales beat analyst expectations.
The tech giant sold 45.51 million iPhones in the three months to 24 September, beating an average estimate of 44.8 million.
The company also forecast higher-than-expected holiday season revenue of between $76bn and $78bn.
But revenue in the fourth quarter fell 9% to $46.85bn.
That meant annual revenue fell for the first time since 2001, highlighting a slowdown in the smartphone market as well as intensifying competition, particularly from Chinese rivals.
But the technology crowd is still waiting for some radical new innovation, to prove the company founded by Steve Jobs hasn’t lost its creative spark. Tim Cook wouldn’t be drawn when quizzed about moves into TV or building a car or a connected speaker like the Amazon Echo. He did say “we have the strongest product pipeline we’ve ever had”. But that is a line we have been hearing for some time.
Apple executives said demand for the new iPhone 7 was strong, despite fiscal fourth-quarter revenue falls in China and the Americas, its two most important markets.
Revenue from Greater China, once seen as Apple’s next growth hope, fell 30% in the quarter, after dropping 33% in the previous quarter.
In the same period last year, revenue from Greater China doubled.
Apple’s shares were down 3% at about $114.80 in after-hours trading.
“Apple didn’t have a great [fourth quarter] as iPhones, Macs, China, the US and what appears to be Watch were down,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Net income fell to $9.01bn in the fourth quarter, down from $11bn in the same quarter last year.
For the year, net income fell to $45.7bn from $53.4bn.
Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said it was “impossible to know” if there was any effect yet from rival Samsung halting production of Galaxy Note 7 phonesearlier this month.
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