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If there was a good time for COVID-19 to impact Apple, it is now

Hardware sales for Apple have dipped over the last three months, but with services gaining weight and the firm still in the building stages for 5G, few seem to be worried.

Apple is in an interesting position currently. Thanks to the product roadmap, if there was a good time for sales to plunge due to extenuating circumstances, now is it.

While the team has recently announced the launch of a new device, the 2020 iPhone SE, this is only a taster of what is to come. The latter part of this year and the early part of 2021 is where the iGiant should make serious waves as it launches its own assault on the 5G era.

“Despite COVID-19’s unprecedented global impact, we’re proud to report that Apple grew for the quarter, driven by an all-time record in Services and a quarterly record for Wearables,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “In this difficult environment, our users are depending on Apple products in renewed ways to stay connected, informed, creative, and productive.”

Apple financial results for period ending March 31 (USD ($), millions)
  Total Year-on-year
Total revenues 58,313 +0.5%
Cost of sales 35,943 -0.7%
Net income 11,249 -2.7%

Source: Apple Investor Relations

Although iPhone sales have been hit by the pandemic, revenues are down by roughly 6.8%, as have Mac and iPad sales, decreasing 2.9% and 10.4% respectively, the wearables, home entertainment and services business units are on the up. The gains have compensated for the losses.

Apple released the figures following the close of financial markets, though share price was down by 3% in overnight trading.

Investors might not be thrilled by these figures, which were less than Wall Street expectations, there is perhaps evidence the diversification efforts of Apple are paying off.

Apple revenues split by product and service segments
Period iPhone Mac iPad Other Services
Q2 2020 49.6% 9.1% 7.5% 10.7% 22.9%
Q1 2020 60.9% 7.8% 6.5% 10.9% 13.8%
Q4 2019 52.1% 10.9% 7.2% 10.2% 19.5%
Q3 2019 48.3% 10.8% 9.3% 10.2% 19.2%
Q2 2019 53.4% 9.5% 8.4% 8.8% 19.7%
Q1 2019 61.6% 8.8% 7.9% 8.7% 12.9%

*Other = Wearables, Home and Accessories

With iPhone sales in particular being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, diversification efforts from Apple put the company in a promising position. Wearables, home entertainment and services in particular are making Apple seem like a much more well-rounded and sustainable business.

This is not a one-off either, diversification is key to navigating difficult periods. During this current crisis, Google and Microsoft are two companies who are performing admirably, another two example of organisations who have driven towards diversification from core competencies.

Perhaps the most important note to take away from this earnings call is that if Apple’s ability to make money was impacted by external influences, now is the best time for it to happen.

As with every other premium smartphone manufacturer, ambitions have been cast towards the up-coming 5G era, as well as the device refreshment cycle which is likely to accompany. 2020 was supposed to be the year of 5G, though perhaps the slowing of base station deployment has postponed this slightly.

Apple was never going to launch a 5G device in the first half of the year, it traditionally saves its flagship launch for the autumn, as consumers are preparing for Christmas purchases. There are of course reports that the launch of the Apple device in a few months will be delayed, but as long as it is before Christmas few executives will be worried. Interestingly enough, anticipation will also be extended to the telco industry.

The launch of the next Apple device could be a catalyst to launch 5G into the mainstream. Such is the power of Apple and its brand, 5G could be the new norm once the Cupertino-based tech giant makes a powerful statement. This could be a major influence in the migration of customers from 4G to 5G tariffs.

Apple is a very powerful company, and while sales have been impacted by COVID-19, its diversification efforts are compensating, and its major marketing activities are being reserved. As long as lockdowns have been eased by the end of the year, few Apple executives will be bothered by the financial impact of the coronavirus.

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