The end of hardware transparency at Apple

Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Going forward, the company will no longer be releasing unit sales numbers for iPhone, iPad and Mac.


CFO Luca Maestri casually dropped his bombshell in the middle of Thursday’s Q4 2018 conference call. The talking heads on CNBC went a little nuts. I don’t think they heard another word he said.

Cook and Maestri offered several justifications. At the supermarket check-out counter, Cook suggested, they don’t ask you how many units you’ve got in your cart.

Other metrics, he argued—not very convincingly—give you better insight into the company’s performance in any given quarter.

Maestri also pointed out, correctly, that none of Apple competitors share their unit sales numbers. So Apple should be more like Samsung?

The transparency Apple offered analysts—professional and the armchair variety—was one of the things that made it unique. That’s over now.

My take: This seems wrong, and not just because it puts a stake in the heart of my quarterly earnings smackdowns.