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Will Apple’s sales wilt from the global chip shortage?

October 13, 2021, 9:01 PM UTC

Maybe we spoke too soon.

A month ago, we speculated that 13—as in iPhone 13, Apple’s latest smartphone—could be the company’s lucky number. Why so lucky? Because the company is within striking distance of its annual iPhone sales record—231 million sold in its fiscal year 2015.

But supply-chain issues may interfere with Apple’s superlative sales trajectory. Apple is set to produce as many as 10 million fewer units of its new iPhone 13 due to a global computer chip shortage, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Analysts worry the slimdown could dent holiday sales, usually the handset’s best season. (Apple did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment regarding the matter.)

If Apple has bested its sales record, we’ll find out soon; its fiscal year 2021 closed at the end of September. We’ll learn the numbers when the company reports earnings in a couple of weeks.

The Street’s consensus is 236 million iPhones sold, which would be a new record. Some optimistic analysts, like Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives, forecasted nearly a year ago a bigger blowout for this year: 250 million iPhones sold. Ives affirmed the number on Wednesday: “Our numbers remain unchanged,” he told Fortune.

Either way, the celebration may be short-lived. In a research note out this morning, Bank of America analysts estimated Apple would sell 210 million iPhones in fiscal year 2022, which kicked off this month. The figure would be Apple’s worst iPhone sales performance since 2014, when the company sold 169 million smartphones. It would also be a major setback after such a presumably spectacular year. (The Street is more bullish, predicting 235 million iPhones sold next fiscal year.) 

It’s not just chip hiccups that could pose a problem for Apple. A drying up of U.S. stimulus aid and a slowdown—or worse—in China’s economy, a major market for the iPhone-maker, could hurt future performance. The macroeconomic outlook is more worrisome than new tech developments, like superfast 5G network tech and accompanying trade-in deals offered by telecom carriers, are encouraging. 

While we await Apple’s earnings for further guidance, mark your calendars for Monday, Oct. 18. Apple is hosting an event where it’s expected to show off new MacBook laptop models and possibly even next generation AirPods, its wireless earbuds. The event is a bit less exciting than last month’s iPhone 13 debut though: Unlike the iPhone, from which Apple derives about half of its revenue, MacBooks only account for 10% of the overall. 

Robert Hackett
@rhhackett
robert.hackett@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Red, white, and Bitcoin mining. The U.S. has overtaken China as the world's Bitcoin mining home, according to new research from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. Months after China began a sweeping crackdown on crypto, its share of the Bitcoin mining market has plunged from as high as 44% in May to zero. Just two years ago, China was home to 75% of the world's Bitcoin miningThe U.S., by comparison, holds 35.4% of the global share. Kazakhstan and Russia follow behind the U.S. with 18.1% and 11% shares, respectively. 

Netflix's Dave Chappelle problem. Last week, the streaming giant released the newest comedy special from Dave Chappelle. The backlash was swift, with critics, Tweeters, and Netflix's own all decrying the outlandish comedian's jokes about gender-neutral pronouns and transgender people. But co-CEO Ted Sarandos, along with other leaders in the company, has said the special doesn't cross its "line on hate." So, now, Netflix is facing an internal revolt that Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw writes is unlike anything else the company has seen. Employees plan to walk out Oct. 20.

Fly me to China. Amazon reportedly wants to buy some used planes. The e-commerce behemoth is in the market for Boeing and Airbus cargo planes that it may use to move product more quickly around the world, ratcheting up a long-simmering fight between Amazon and carriers like UPS and FedEx, according to Bloomberg. Amazon is specifically on the hunt for Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A330-300s, both of which would represent significantly larger jets than the fleet of Boeing 767 planes it has at its disposal today. 

Listen to your heart. AirPods could end up being used as hearing aids—if Apple figures out how. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the tech giant is exploring how it can make its Bluetooth-enabled headphones into a health device that might end up doing everything from improving hearing to monitoring a wearer's posture. It's not particularly surprising, though. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been outright bullish on Apple's opportunity in healthcare tech, though the company has had its stumbles in trying to do so. 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Slack is probably the first enterprise software in history to convince people that it's cool." Corporate America is Slack-pendent. Workers—by and large—love it, as the chat service has helped introduce a new era of transparency in the workplace. Bosses? Not so much. But over the course of the pandemic, as The Atlantic's Ellen Cushing writes, Slack has become unavoidable in ways few could have imagined at its beginnings. 

From the article:

It’s a safe bet: Last year, it was announced that Salesforce would acquire Slack for nearly $28 billion, in an ostensible bid to edge out Microsoft as the working world’s digital center of gravity. For millions of people, Slack is a verb, a utility, and a way of life. It has spawned competitors from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google; all told, chat is now the second-most-common computer activity, after email, according to RescueTime, productivity software that tracks users’ screen time.

But even if you don’t use Slack, or something like it, you live and work in the world Slack helped create. It’s a world where openness and transparency are prized; where work is something we are always kind of doing; where who we are at the office and who we are outside it are closer than ever before; where all of these dynamics mean that sometimes things go very wrong, especially for people in power.

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BEFORE YOU GO

Pulling meat from thin air. A class of startups in the fake-meat business are betting that fermentation—the same process that is behind making beer and pickles—will prove to be the best path forward for creating a more sustainable alternative to beef, Bloomberg Businessweek explains in its latest issue with comic-book-esque cartoons.

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