Week-in-Review: The iPhone fades and SpaceX confirms an explosion

After a dozen years of riding high, the iPhone is showing signs of weakness in a struggling smartphone marketplace where Apple is still managing to be the biggest loser.

Here’s a snapshot of where things are…

Apple hasn’t been broadcasting its quarterly unit sales the past few quarters, so we’ll have to lean on external researchers, but even the rosiest portrayal from Canalys suggests that the Cupertino giant saw a 23% drop in year-over-year iPhone unit sales, selling 40.2 million iPhones in Q2 of this year compared to 52.2 million iPhones a year ago.

That egregious drop takes Apple to its lowest Q2 unit sales since 2013, though the company has been solidly bumping up the average selling price in a move that has largely been working, though iPhone revenue was down 15% year-over-year, as well.

It’s not Apple’s cross to bear alone; the broader smartphone marketplace has been in decline, down 6.8% year-over-year, according to the same report. But the iPhone’s decline contributed to roughly half of the international marketplace’s missing units while China’s smartphone triumvirate of Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi managed to buoy the broader sector from diving even lower.

Huawei’s unit sales shot up more than 50%.

Apple wasn’t the only non-Chinese phone maker wallowing in torment. Google cited a rough marketplace for smartphones after delivering disappointing earnings, while Samsung saw a 10% decline in unit sales this quarter, according to Canalys.

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The smartphone marketplace has had six straight quarters of year-over-year sales declines. This was the lowest quarter of smartphone unit sales in nearly five years. Whether Apple can good perform might be an ask of how they can seek to differentiate themselves in China while still managing to squeeze consistent revenues from markets where it leads.

More doom-and-gloom from my friend Brian Heater here:

iPhone rigid knocked
as international smartphone shipments nosedive

On to the cheerier topic of dead robots…


Trends of the week

Here are a few gigantic news items from gigantic companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context.

  • Zuckerberg tries again
    Facebook is dead as you know it, or at least that’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants you to think after his audacious relaunch of the company as a lover of privacy. The company gave its Facebook app and desktop site a major face raise and spoke at length about being good. Sitting in the audience, I couldn’t assist but think that Zuckerberg was spinning for more credit with decisions that had long been made. More from my buddy Josh Constine.
  • SpaceX cops to an explosion
    Elon Musk’s space company may have to push back its timeline for a manned launch after the company confirmed that its Dragon crew capsule exploded during testing. The disappointing development suggests SpaceX has some more work ahead of it before it’s prepared to safely convey humans into space.
  • Another dead automaton Cozmo won’t be scooting into any brand-new homes; the startup behind the cute tiny automaton is dead after the dissolution of a brand-new funding circular. Anki raised a staggering $182 million over the course of its life and sold 1.5 million of the curious, tiny wheeled bots, but now it seems to face the same lonely death as Jibo, which similarly perished a couple of months ago.
  • Palantir not so nice after all Peter Thiel’s Palantir has long held onto this very nefarious reputation as a bad company that’s working with government agencies and screwing over progressive ideals in the process. It wasn’t always super clear how true this was because it kind of seemed like Alex Karp and company was just scrambling to get independent sector customers so it could justify its independent valuation ahead of an ipo. Well, turns out the company is shitty after all.
  • Headset hullabaloo The VR marketplace may be dead, but don’t tell that to the companies making VR headsets. Yes, the brand-new headsets are still all bulky and bizarre but they are undoubtedly good. Oculus’ introduction of the adventure (reviewed here by me) and Rift S (review from me, again) next month might just add a tiny life to the dead VR dreams — and if that doesn’t work, Valve has a $1,000 option it’s now hocking.

Forward-looking statement

What’s coming up next week? Well, you can expect a bunch of Microsoft news at its Build developer conference and there will also assuredly be a lot emerging from Google I/O, where I’ll be spending a couple of days next week. Here’s what we think is coming…

What to expect from Google I/O 2019

“…It’s shaping up to be a biggie, too, if this week’s Google earnings call was any indication. Sundar Pichai teased out a number of upcoming offerings from the company that we can expect to see on full display at the show…”

HVEPhoto/Getty Images

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own portion, in order of awfulness: (This week was admittedly a tiny light on the gaffes, but don’t be too disappointed, that’s good!)

  1. Googlers aren’t cheerful about workplace retaliation:
    [Google employees are staging a sit-in to protest reported retaliation]
  2. Researchers studying Facebook’s ad platform aren’t getting the access they say they need:
    [Facebook accused of blocking wider efforts to study its ad platform]
  3. Apple wades into anti-competitive criticism with latest app bans:
    [Apple defends its takedown of some apps monitoring screen-time]

Horacio Villalobos//Corbis/Getty Images

more Crunch

Our premium subscription service roars ahead. We had an interesting piece go up this week diving into Slack’s financial filings that discovered some discrepancies in the VC funding that was reported versus what was actually raised:

The curious case of Slack’s missing $162 million

“…Given that most of the stories covering Slack derived from the company’s own announcements, you would expect that those stories and the data in the S-1 would match. In short: they do, somewhat…”

Here are some of our other top reads this week for premium subscribers — you should capture up with our full Niantic deep-dive if you haven’t already; this list is a nice primer though…

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