Apple Stocks Plummet — A Taste Of Things To Come?

It’s a sad day in Cupertino — mighty Apple is striking out. According to CNN Money, Apple stock plunged below $100 last week, territory the seemingly bulletproof company hasn’t seen since October, 2014. The unexpected falter from Apple, which has a reputation of making money for even the most casual trader, sent analysts into a flurry of confusion and contradiction.

Some analysts, like Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, refuse to call Apple’s stoke decline anything other than an adjustment. In fact, Munster predicts that Apple stock will hit a high of $179 in 2016. Munster is ranked as the top Apple researcher on TipRanks, meaning he has made the most accurate predictions on how the company’s stock will perform.

On the other side is ABG Sundal Collier analyst Per Lindberg, who predicts that Apple stock will hit a low of $65 a share. Lindberg claims that lost market share, or was forced to reduce prices. Both may seem unthinkable, yet Apple may suffer both in 2016.

AppleInsider is already predicting that 2016 will be the year that Apple finally crushes all of its competitors, and they make a strong case. According to AppleInsider, the company claimed 95 percent global smartphone market share in 2015, thanks to the stellar performance of the iPhone 6s and the decline in profitability of its closest competitor, Samsung. AppleInsider also crows about Apple’s personal computer market share, noting, when tablets are included, Apple now sells both the most computers and the most expensive computers. All of this makes for excellent spin and zippy copy, but how much weight do the predictions of a bull market for Apple really carry?

The iPhone 6
It all comes down to the iPhone 7, and that may be a problem for Cupertino. Specification leaks and rumors are nothing new for Apple or its massively popular iPhone product line, but the most recent leak has some Apple devotees scratching their heads.

According to the Verge, the iPhone 7 won’t feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack will reportedly allow data, information, sound, and power to travel up the Lightning cable port. The removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack will also allow the shrinking iPhone to become even thinner. It could revolutionize how consumers listen to music, making Bluetooth headphones, like some of Apple-owned Beats’ headphones, a standard rather than a luxury item. Or, it could grant Apple its first flop. And with the iPhone reportedly making up two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, it’s a flop that Cupertino can’t afford.

The move has been met with hostility from Apple’s notoriously loyal consumer base. Soon after news leaked about the planned removal of the 3.5 mm headphone port, a petition was created on sumofus.com. The petition accuses Apple of ripping off its customers and creating “mountains of electronic waste–that likely won’t get recycled” in its continuing quest to eek out more money from consumers with planned obsolescence. The petition currently has over 227,000 signatures, nearly to its goal of 250,000.

Macbook sales are down, but nobody can agree on why
The personal computer market doesn’t look rosy for Apple, either. While the exact percentage of the United States and Global computer market share Apple occupies is a subject of debate, at least one outlet suggests that sales of Apple’s Mac have slowed. According to CNet, while the entire personal computer industry suffered an 11 percent decline in 2015, Apple’s market share took a 3.5 percent hit.

In many ways, Apple is a victim of its own success in the computer business. More and more people are ditching desktops and laptops for personal use in favor of smartphones and tablets, both markets dominated by Apple. But that could spell danger if one of the annual iPhone releases fails to grab consumers.

Numbers and spin aside, one thing is certain. For Apple and CEO Tim Cook, more is riding on the performance of the iPhone than ever before.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]