The drop may seem like an overreaction, but it does raise a question about corporate transparency.
Apple is under no obligation to reveal how much of each device it sells – as chief financial officer Luca Maestri pointed out, none of its competitors do.
Public companies in the US are required to reveal their income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow figures, and nothing more.
After all, surely what should be important to investors is not the number of gadgets Apple sold in any three-month period, but how much revenue and profit it is making.
The number of iPhones sold, although closely followed by the media, seems closer to a piece of trivia than a relevant piece of financial information.
This is how Maestri put it. He said that such figures are “not necessarily representative of the underlying strength of our business”.
This may be true, but Apple has revealed its sales numbers for decades. It has done so since at least the Nineties, before Steve Jobs returned to the company and well before the iPhone – or even the iPod – existed.
So when it changed course last week, investors jumped to the most logical conclusion. They took the news that Apple was going to stop saying how many iPhones it has sold as a sign that that number was going to fall. After all, if iPhone sales were growing hand over fist, it wouldn’t be hiding the fact.