Apple CEO Tim Cook Ducked iPhone X Sales Questions. Here’s How

November 2, 2017, 11:54 PM UTC

Apple reported its most recent quarterly results on Thursday, but analysts and investors seemed far more focused on the past week—when pre-orders for the iPhone X started—than the past three months.

The all-new phone is Apple’s first with a higher-contrast OLED screen, a facial scanner instead of a fingerprint reader, and a price tag starting at $999. Orders for the new iPhone 8 models, which went on sale in late September, seemed to be weaker than expected, so Wall Street has focused on the prospects for the X model as critical to future stock gains.

Last week, Apple said that initial demand for the iPhone X was “off the charts.” On Thursday, Apple said iPhone X orders were “very strong” and gave guidance that holiday quarter revenue would be up to $87 billion, which would be a record high and signify booming sales across the product line.

Apple shares (AAPL) initially jumped as much as 3% in after-hours trading on the news.

But CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri didn’t provide many details when analysts asked about pre-orders, supplies, and any breakdown of sales between the various iPhone models. And analysts kept on asking.

Cook came up with a couple of different ways to duck the questions, ranging from shutting down the conversation to changing the subject. In response to the obfuscation, Apple (AAPL) shares retreated somewhat, but still showed a gain of more than 2% after the call with analysts.

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Here’s a sampling of how the Cook dodged and weaved with his answers:

  • “We’re going to get as many of them as possible to the customers as soon as possible. I can’t predict at this point when that balance will happen. In terms of March, we don’t give guidance beyond the current quarter.”
  • “We never go through mix but I would share with you that the iPhone X orders are very strong for both direct customers and for our channel partners, which as you know are lots of carriers throughout the world.”
  • “This is the first time that we’ve ever been in the position that we have three new iPhones at once like this at the top end of the line and it’s the first time we’ve had a staggered launch. And so we’re going to see what happens. We put our absolutely best thinking that we have here in the guidance that Luca presented and you can tell from that we’re bullish.”
  • “Obviously I’m not going to talk about mix. It’s not something that we’ve done in the past.”
  • “The truth is we don’t know. We’ve put our best estimate into the guidance and you can see from the guidance that we’re very bullish.”
  • “Until you get all of them out there where customers have the ability to demo and so forth, I think any kind of mix discussion is very much estimating. So we’ve put our best estimates in but grantedly (sic) we’ve never done this before. So there’s no comparison here with either the three iPhones nor the staggered launch. So we’re going to learn something.”
  • “I hate to repeat this but we don’t really disclose mix. We view it as competitive information that we want to hold tightly ourselves.”
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