5 questions for Apple earnings call as iPhone 8 anticipation builds | VentureBeat | Mobile

The usual slew of numbers will be tossed around when Apple discloses its earnings today, as analysts slice and dice every data point for clues about the health of the world’s most valuable company.

But there might be only one piece of information that really matters: When can the world expect the next iPhone?

Typically, the company holds a press event the second week of September, and the new iPhones go on sale later in the month. The anticipation is that the iPhone 8, or whatever the 10th anniversary smartphone is going to be called, will be a huge leap forward in terms of features and design and will generate a new round of record sales.

That’s why Apple’s stock price has continued to set records in recent months, even as its overall sales have remained relatively flat over the last two quarters.

Even if Apple doesn’t give a specific day for the iPhone 8 launch, analysts will be looking toward its revenue guidance to see if it changes significantly up or down. There has been some scuttlebutt that production issues could mean the new phones won’t go on sale until October.

As for the rest of the numbers, well, they my be largely academic. Apple had previously told investors to expect revenue between $43.5 billion and $45.5 billion for the three months ending June 30. The current consensus analyst estimate is that Apple will report $44.49 billion in revenue.

That would be up from $42.4 billion for the same period a year ago, when the company sold 40.4 million iPhones. Analysts are projecting around 40 million iPhones in Q3 2017, which would about match last year.

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And while nothing else may compare to interest in the new phone, there are five big questions on investors’ minds:

  1. Can Apple stop the bleeding in China? The company has been seeing sales dip and it’s been losing marketshare to local rivals. The company says it’s optimistic about China, but it’s not clear what might turn things around there.
  2. Are Services still booming? As sales of the company’s hardware stagnate, growth in revenue from Services, including sales of apps and Apple Music subscriptions, have been the big success story. Apple is going to need to continue leveraging its ecosystem if it’s going to continue to grow.
  3. Can the iPad be saved? Sales have been tumbling for awhile now, and introduction of a stylus and a bigger iPad didn’t offer much relief. Even just holding the line in sales would be a big win.
  4. Is Apple really building new plants? President Trump claimed Apple is building three manufacturing plants in the U.S. Apple has not commented. Is he nutso? Or is Apple really going to reverse 15 years of outsourcing strategy and get back into the business of manufacturing?
  5. What’s next? Every comment will be parsed to see if there are clues about what Apple execs are thinking about in terms of new gadgets and services. Cars? Wearables? Anything to whet fans’ appetites.

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