Apple iPhone Sales: The Journey of iPhone Over the Years

Apple stockApple iPhone Sales Statistics Over the Last Five Years

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced the first “iPhone” in the year 2007 and went on to become one of the the most valuable technology companies in the world. However, things started to take a turn for the worst in 2016 when iPhone sales declined for the first time since the launch of the iconic smartphone.

How critical the success of the iPhone is to the company can be understood from the following set of numbers. Apple iPhone sales constituted about 50% of the company’s revenue in the year 2012 and kept on increasing in the subsequent years, reaching the maximum share of 66% in 2015.

Apple has sold over one billion iPhones so far. The following chart shows the global unit sales of iPhones from 2007 to 2016 (in thousands).

Unit sales

After enjoying unprecedented success for a decade, sales of iPhone began to slow down. Apple iPhone sales declined for the first time last year. The annual sales fell to $216.0 billion in 2016 from a record $234.0 billion in 2015.

There were a few reasons for this decline. The first was the saturation in the global smartphone market. Customers were taking longer to replace their phones. Second, the entry of a number of competitors in China, like Xiaomi Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., also impacted the sales of Apple iPhone. Over the last several quarters, China has been the company’s fastest growing market for Apple Inc., but the recent decline in sales from the Greater China segment raised alarm bells for investors.

As the Apple iPhone completes its 10th anniversary this year, let us take a look back at how the iPhone has buoyed the growth of the consumer technology company over the past five years.

Apple iPhone Sales Statistics: Growth of iPhone Sales from 2012-2016

The following chart shows the growth in iPhone sales over the past five years.

iphone sales chart

As is clear from the chart, 2016 was the year when iPhone sales posted a decline that spooked investors and hit Apple stock hard. A few reasons for this decrease were the entry of new competitors and the saturation in the smartphone market.

Below is the chart depicting global iPhone sales ($ million) from 2012 to 2016.

iphone sales revenue

Source: Apple Inc Annual Reports

Here is a year-by-year account of how the sales of Apple iPhone have grown since the year 2012.

Apple iPhone Sales—Fiscal Year 2012

It was a blockbuster year for Apple Inc. as earnings skyrocketed on the popularity of its smartphone. The global sales of iPhone jumped 71%. In September 2012, total sales were $78,692 million, as compared to the sales of $45,998 million reported in 2011. The number of units jumped 73%, from 72 million to 125 million in 2012.

The good numbers reflected strong demand for the iPhone in all of the company’s operating segments, which is primarily a result of the launches of the “iPhone 4S” in the first quarter of 2012 and the “iPhone 5” in the fourth quarter of 2012. The demand for the iPhone 5 continued to outstrip supply and it sold a record-breaking five million units during launch weekend.

Apple stock 2012

The year 2012 was also Tim Cook’s first year as CEO of Apple Inc. and the year in which Apple became the most valuable company in the world. It was a blockbuster year for Apple stock.

Apple iPhone Sales—Fiscal Year 2013

The stellar results of fiscal 2012 made comparison with the fiscal 2013 results very difficult. In the previous year, the business of the company benefited from both high growth and demand for products and a corresponding growth in channel inventories, along with a richer mix of higher gross margin products, a more favorable foreign currency environment, and historically low costs.

The global sales of iPhone increased by 16% in the fiscal 2013. In September 2013, total sales were $91,279 million, in contrast to the $78,692 million earned in 2012. The number of units sold went up by 20% to 150,257.

Apple introduced two new iPhones—the “iPhone 5c” and the “iPhone 5s”—at the September keynote. With the cheaper iPhone 5c, Apple managed to get a contract with China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, and its millions of subscribers.

Apple stock 2013

The Apple ecosystem strengthened further in the year 2013. It was another impressive year for the company, but not so for the stock. Tim Cook started focusing more on China as concerns about falling iPhone sales started to rise and made Apple stock quite volatile.

Apple iPhone Sales—Fiscal Year 2014

It was another good year for the company, albeit the controversies surrounding the bending of the new iPhone refused to die down. Apple introduced the bigger “iPhone 6” and the “iPhone 6 Plus.” The expanded distribution helped in sales growth.

The global sales of iPhone increased by only 12%. In September 2014, total sales were $101,991 million, a jump of 12% from the $91,279 million earned in 2013. The number of units sold went up by 13% to 169,219.

But the overall Average Selling Prices (ASPs) for the iPhone were relatively flat in 2014 compared to 2013, with growth in ASPs in Americas and Retail segments being offset by a decline in ASPs in the Greater China, Japan, and Rest of Asia Pacific segments.  

Apple Stock 2014

It was a great year for Apple stock as the share price consistently rose with the launch of new products and good results.

Apple iPhone Sales—Fiscal Year 2015

It was a mixed year for Apple Inc. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus continued to gain traction. The global sales of iPhone jumped 52%. In September 2015, total sales were $155,041 million, a jump of 52% from the $101,991 million earned in 2014. The number of units sold went up by 37% to 231,218.

The year-over-year growth in iPhone net sales and unit sales during 2015 primarily resulted from strong demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus during 2015.

Apple Stock 2015

Overall ASPs for the iPhone increased during 2015 compared to 2014, due primarily to the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September 2014, partially offset by the effect of weakness in most foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar.

During the year, Apple stock was hit by disappointed investors who found the iPhone sales to be below their expectations. Worries over slowing sales in China took over once again and pounded Apple stock.

Apple iPhone Sales—Fiscal Year 2016

The year 2016 was quite important for the company as the critics had started writing off the magic of iPhone. The global sales of iPhone slumped by 12%. In September 2016, total sales were $136,700 million, a loss of 12% from the $155,041 million earned in 2015. The number of units sold went down by eight percent to 211,884.

In September 2016, the company introduced the “iPhone 7” and “iPhone 7 Plus,” featuring new camera systems, immersive stereo speakers, and water and dust resistance.

During the third quarter of 2016, the company also began selling the “iPhone SE,” which has a 4-inch Retina®display. iPhones work with “iTunes,” the “App Store,” “iBooks,” and “Apple Music” for purchasing, organizing and playing digital content and apps.

ASPs for the iPhone were lower year-over-year during 2016 due primarily to a different mix of iPhones, including the iPhone SE introduced in 2016, and the effect of weakness in most foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar.

Apple stock 2016

It was a year when Apple stock came under tremendous pressure from declining iPhone sales as well as a slowing China market. Apple stock was quite volatile and investors and analysts started having doubts on the future of the iPhone and the company.

Apple iPhone: The Road Ahead

There are huge expectations surrounding Apple’s “iPhone 8” to be released in the fall of 2017. The general idea so far is that Apple Inc. has major redesigns planned for the iPhone 8, which may also be named as “iPhone 10,” to commemorate the tenth year of the iconic smartphone. The new design is likely to feature a glass body and OLED display. There could be more from the iPhone 8 that could exceed expectations, which could push Apple stock to the stratosphere. However, if the model fails to impress, there could be more challenges ahead for Apple Inc.