Apple Has Sold More Than 1 Billion iPhones, but Can It Sustain Success?

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Nearly a year ago, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook had an announcement for employees gathered at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, about the iPhone:

iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day. Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day.

Ambition is not lacking at Apple, and that ambition coalesced in the creation of the iPhone, the anniversary of which the company will celebrate later this month. That device has propelled Apple to become one of the world’s most valuable brands, with a market cap near $750 billion. Apple has introduced a new model every year since its introduction and debuted two models last year.

Yet the shine has gone off Apple a little bit since then. Apple sold 50.8 million iPhones in the second quarter, which trailed estimates of 51.4 million, and it issued estimates that missed expectations. Analysts such as Kwan-Chen Ma, principal at KCM Asset Management, speculate that the iPhone sales miss may have been a result of the pause in purchases in anticipating for the next-generation device. He also said Apple’s service revenue is pulling the Apple train and is expected to double in the next four years.

Analysts also are concerned about the iPhone’s longer-term growth outlook beyond iPhone 8 and the 10-year anniversary device that launches later this year.

The iPhone debuted on June 29, 2007, and that year Apple sold 1.5 million devices, according statistic portal Statista. That figure leaped to 11.6 million the following year. iPhone mania grew as devotees queued up for days ahead of the launch of the latest iteration of the device. Despite a robust challenge from Samsung and its smartphone series, sales continued to climb as Apple introduced a new model each year. In 2015, more than one-fifth of all iPhones ever purchased were sold that year, 231.2 million devices. However, sales decelerated to 211.8 million the following year. Through the first two quarters of 2017, 129.1 million iPhones have been sold.

Besides its own issues concerning future growth, Apple has been caught up in the recent downdraft of technology shares. The Nasdaq composite posted its biggest two-day drop since December on Monday. Apple shares declined $3.56, or 25.6%, and is the top performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Here is a look at when iPhone models were introduced:

  • First generation: June 29,2007
  • 3G: July 11, 2008
  • 3GS: June 19, 2009
  • 4: June 24, 2010
  • 4S: October 14, 2011
  • 5: September 21, 2012
  • 5C: 5S: September 20, 2013
  • 6/6 Plus: September 19, 2014
  • 6S/6S Plus: September 25, 2015
  • SE: March 31, 2016
  • 7/7 Plus: September 16, 2016

Also, here are sales of iPhones by quarter:

  • Q3 2007: 270,000
  • Q4 2007: 1.12 million
  • Q1 2008: 2.30 million
  • Q2 2008: 1.70 million
  • Q3 2008: 720,000
  • Q4 2008: 6.89 million
  • Q1 2009: 4.36 million
  • Q2 2009: 3.79 million
  • Q3 2009: 5.21 million
  • Q4 2009: 7.37 million
  • Q1 2010: 8.74 million
  • Q2 2010: 8.75 million
  • Q3 2010: 8.40 million
  • Q4 2010: 14.10 million
  • Q1 2011: 16.20 million
  • Q2 2011: 18.65 million
  • Q3 2011: 20.34 million
  • Q4 2011: 17.07 million
  • Q1 2012: 37.04 million
  • Q2 2012: 35.06 million
  • Q3 2012: 26.03 million
  • Q4 2012: 26.91 million
  • Q1 2013: 47.79 million
  • Q2 2013: 37.43 million
  • Q3 2013: 31.24 million
  • Q4 2013: 33.80 million
  • Q1 2014: 51.03 million
  • Q2 2014: 43.72 million
  • Q3 2014: 35.20 million
  • Q4 2014: 39.27 million
  • Q1 2015: 74.47 million
  • Q2 2015: 61.17 million
  • Q3 2015: 47.53 million
  • Q4 2015: 48.05 million
  • Q1 2016: 74.78 million
  • Q2 2016: 51.19 million
  • Q3 2016: 40.40 million
  • Q4 2016: 45.51 million
  • Q1 2017: 78.29 million
  • Q2 2017: 50.76 million