It is rare to hear that iPhone buyers prefer to replace their battery rather than upgrade to a new iPhone, which of course also suggests the converse - that Apple has been benefitting from the throttling of older iPhones and the high cost of replacing their batteries to drive sales.
In fessing up to the looming fiscal disappointment, the Apple boss blamed the shortfall not on the eye-wateringly high prices for its latest lines of kit, but rather on the people of China, who let Apple down by not purchasing as many shiny doodads as was expected of them.
The Cupertino, California-based company initially predicted revenue between $89 billion ($121 billion CAD) and $93 billion ($126 billion CAD) for this quarter.
We did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.
Then CEO Tim Cook posted a letter on Apple's web site saying that revenue in the last quarter of 2018 would be $84 billion. "In addition, these and other factors resulted in fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated". It is the first time Apple has had to lower its estimates in over a decade.
Along with slowed growth there in the second half of previous year, Cook said that the "economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the United States".
The news sent Apple shares tumbling 7.7 percent in after-hours trade, triggering a broader selloff in the stock market and dragging the company's market value below $700bn. The $750 billion company also makes Mac computers, iPads, the Apple Watch and other gadgets and develops and licenses software.
Changing market conditions are cited as a major reason why Apple's own estimates have not quite aligned with actual outcomes.
However, the nitty gritty details in that regard will have to wait and be doled out by Apple later this year when the company gets around to announcing its fiscal first quarter 2019 earnings (which will happen on Tuesday, January 29).
Apple acknowledged that demand for iPhones is waning, confirming investor fears that the company's most profitable product has lost some of its lustre.
Others advised Cook to stop pointing the finger at China, and instead fix the flaws in Apple services and work on new products.
CEO Tim Cook made the announcement after were market closed.
Analysts say Apple must now try to find a way to win back Wall Street's confidence and reverse a steep decline that has erased $350bn in shareholder wealth in just three months.
"We believe the economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the United States", he said."Our profitability and cash flow generation are strong, and we expect to exit the quarter with approximately $130 billion in net cash".
For now, shares of Apple suppliers were taking the biggest hits. Blaming mostly macro headwinds, he failed to admit the launch of new iPhones haven't successfully lured consumers and acknowledge growing competition from domestic players. Cook's letter noted that services revenue was $10.8 billion in the quarter and the business should double from 2016 to 2020.