Apple is about to report its first slowdown in more than a decade

Lynsey Barber
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iPhone SE/iPad Pro 9.7 inch Launch In Tokyo
Yipes: Investors await confirmation of estimates on Apple (Source: Getty)

Apple's crunch time is approaching.

The most valuable company in the world (for now, at least) is about to report a sales slowdown, which although expected, is not a welcome occurrence in the usually ever upward trajectory of the beloved brand.

The figures

Sales of around $52bn (£35.9bn), with the iPhone making up the lion's share, are predicted for the quarter to the end of March according to more than 30 analysts polled by Reuters.

That's quite a decline on the same quarter last year of $58bn sales. A 10 per cent decline to be exact. And that would be the first decline in more than a decade.

Read more: The Silicon Valley slowdown comes to Europe: IPOs, M&A and investment fall

In Taiwan, firms making Apple parts were already bracing themselves. Largan Precision shed three percent and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) was off 0.3 per cent in Sunday trading ahead of Tuesday's numbers.

Why it's interesting

Apple is not immune from an overall global slowdown in the smartphone market. They have reached saturation point in established markets and brands — even Apple — are unable to wow consumers with innovative features at the rate they used to.

Two separate estimates on smartphone shipments have already indicated the Apple slowdown in terms of iPhone sales.

The iPhone SE was widely debunked as a "meh" device, with hardly a new feature that hadn't been seen on last year's flagship iPhone 6s. However, its launch ahead of the next major device in the Autumn is expected to offer Apple more sustainable sales mid-cycle between the big flagship bonanzas.

Read more: The new HTC 10 smartphone is trying to beat Apple and Samsung with selfies

It's unlikely to produce the big numbers Wall Street is used to, but Apple may indicate how successful this strategy is with numbers on the iPhone SE model for the first time.

Further numbers to look out for include Apple Music subscriber numbers as it also fights the likes of Spotify and other streaming services on a separate front. While the uptake of Apple Pay has been muted in the US, figures for the UK may indicate consumer's appetite for such fintech features.

What the analysts say

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster told CNBC that the huge demand for the iPhone 6 resulted in fewer buyers in the market for a new iPhone at this point in time. "When you're pulling forward that much demand, you're just naturally going to have a down year."

“From the stock point of view, it is already built into people’s expectations. If iPhone sales end up in line to slightly better than expectations then it’ll be taken positively,” Mizuho Securities's Abhey Lamba told Bloomberg.

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