Despite sales growth in the last quarter of the previous year, Apple CEO Tim Cook assured on Thursday that the tech giant has upcoming news related to artificial intelligence, even as the company’s shares experienced a decline. The iPhone maker forecast a drop in China iPhone sales this quarter, overshadowing earnings that beat analysts’ targets and drove overall revenue to a new record of $63.9 billion. That prompted Apple’s stock to slump more than 3% in after-hours trading.
The tech giant has several AI initiatives that it could unveil this year, including smart home products and self-driving cars. The company’s Siri virtual assistant can now do more than answer questions; it can control your connected smart-home gadgets, such as light switches or cameras.
It’s also working on a more advanced version of its voice-controlled digital assistant, which will allow users to make phone calls, use third-party apps, and even shop. It’s also trying to boost its presence in the nascent self-driving car market, where it faces intense competition from companies like Google spinoff Waymo and autonomous ride-hailing specialist Lyft.
One area where it has yet to achieve the scale of its rivals is in the booming smart-home market, dominated by Amazon’s Echo speaker and Google’s Home device. According to research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Apple’s HomePod speaker is still a blip in this category, with only 6 percent of the market.
The company is also trying to compete in the burgeoning field of immersive virtual reality. Its upcoming headset, the $3,500 Vision Pro, will immerse users in a hybrid of physical and digital environments. It is expected to be among the first high-end VR systems available.
During the call, Apple stopped reporting iPhone unit sales to investors for the first time since 2012. Instead, it emphasized that it is generating more revenue from services like App Store purchases and extra iCloud storage. It’s also been generating revenue from subscriptions for video content like HBO and Netflix.
Apple’s chief executive also discussed the importance of China to its business, a country that now accounts for about a quarter of the company’s revenue. He pointed out that Foxconn, the Chinese company that builds iPhones and other devices for Apple, has a massive operation in Zhengzhou, in central China. The site is a significant economic engine, creating thousands of jobs and boosting the local economy.
The site also showcases technological advances, making China an increasingly important market for American tech companies. The city government has worked hard to rebrand the town as a model of corporate responsibility and economic development, partly by branding the plant as an incubator for “intelligent” technology, such as robots and intelligent software. The efforts have been rewarded with praise from Mr. Cook, who visits the factory often. He has donned factory uniforms, walked the assembly line, and rubbed shoulders with regulators, state telecom giants, and the country’s top leaders, including President Xi Jinping.