Apple’s Quarterly Sales Fall, But Forecast Calls for Gains

After stumbling in 2016, Apple is betting on a better year ahead. The Silicon Valley tech giant is forecasting a return to growth in iPhone sales this winter, after a rare slump that dropped a wet blanket on Apple's revenue and stock performance over the last three quarters.

The company is also set to unveil new Mac computers later this week, hoping to boost lagging interest in a set of products that are symbolically significant even if they're less financially important to the company than the iPhone.

Apple has been struggling with shrinking demand for its signature products at a time when analysts say it's increasingly difficult for tech companies to come up with dramatically new features. Many consumers are holding onto their old smartphones and PCs for longer, seeing little reason to buy a new model that's only slightly better.

One consequence: Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones in the quarter that ended in September. That was slightly more than the 45 million that Wall Street expected, but still 5 percent fewer than the 48 million iPhones it sold in the same period a year earlier.

Renewed Interest in iPhones

Still, analysts say consumers are showing renewed interest in Apple's latest iPhone models. Based on early sales, Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press, "We feel very good about the momentum of the 7 and 7 Plus."

The 7 and 7 Plus models aren't a radical change from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which were wildly popular when they were introduced two years ago. But analyst Patrick Moorhead said the new phones have enough improvements, including new camera systems, longer battery life and water resistance, to fare better than last year's lackluster 6S and 6S Plus.

Apple could also benefit because many iPhone 6 owners may be ready to replace their two-year-old phones.

The...

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