Apple is known for blowing out analyst estimates all the time. For the past few years, Apple has been reporting 'best quarter ever' results almost every quarter. However, Apple today announced its earnings for the third fiscal quarter of 2012, and they missed the revenue estimates from analysts. What happened?
Apple's guidance has remained almost comically conservative over the years. This has allowed Apple to set low expectations, so they could surprise everyone at their earnings announcements and generate sensational headlines again and again. This time around, it seems that Wall Street as wised up to Apple's shenanigans and actually predicted reasonable numbers that Apple missed by a little bit.
Rumours are also hurting Apple's device sales. Speculation about the upcoming 4-inch iPhone, 7-inch iPad, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and the Apple TV are making many customers think twice before pulling the trigger on Apple gadg. At today's earnings announcement, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said
We're reading the same rumours and speculation about a new iPhone as you are, and we think this has affected sales.
Rumours are problematic post-launch as well. In the case of the iPhone 4S and the new iPad, rumours set up such high expectations that many user found the actual announcements underwhelming.
All this is not to say that Apple is doing badly. Apple managed to sell 26 million iPhones and 17 million iPads this quarter, beating industry estimates for sales. Furthermore, we know that rumours will not hurt sales for ever. Customers who are holding back now will definitely buy those products they've been waiting for when they launch in the next quarter. Apple will do just fine.