Apple Blames ‘Trade Wars’ For Slowing iPhone Sales

A sign with the Apple logo hangs outside of an Apple store in New York city.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

After it temporarily paused trading on Wall Street earlier in the day, Apple warned investors on Wednesday that its performance in the months ahead would not be as high as initially predicted.

Fewer iPhone upgrades and other shortfalls were expected in the next quarter, the result of “weakness in some emerging markets,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a public letter outlining the new projections, according to reporting from NBC News.

The company placed much of the blame for the company’s weakness in other markets on trade disputes between the United States and China, which some have dubbed as being akin to “trade wars.” Weak markets were especially noticeable in China, Apple said, citing slower store traffic overall for its products in that country since the barbs on trade began between Washington and Beijing earlier last year.

Cook further explained that the company was going to take action that he said would help lower its costs in production in the meantime, including cutting the cost of battery replacements for iPhones, until the trade dispute ceased to be an issue. Cook said he felt confident the trade wars would end soon.

“I hope that it does, and I’m actually optimistic, but we’re going to focus really deeply on the things we can control,” he added.

Tech stocks have taken a toll as of late, as their prices were part of a disastrous month of trading on Wall Street in December. Indeed, as trade rhetoric between China and the U.S. was heating up, prognosticators warned that tech could be hit hard by the trade wars, as China would retaliate against any tariffs by focusing on American tech giants, per reporting from The Street.

A closer look at Apple’s stock in particular demonstrates that it has taken a significant hit, perhaps as a result of such economic retaliation. Stock price in the company has fallen by around 30 percent since October, for instance, according to reporting from Yahoo! Finance.

Stocks in the FAANG group of companies — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google — did not have a great 2018 overall, according to reporting from CNBC. In addition to the trade wars hampering their performances, some of the tumbles that these companies had dealt with privacy scandals that exposed user information.

Facebook was one of the worse-performing FAANG stocks. The company ended the year down by 25 percent from where it started in 2018, its worst year since the company became public in 2012.