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iPhone Sales in Free Fall? Tim Cook Says 'Baloney'

Apple is cutting iPhone production by 10 percent over the next three months, reports Japan's Nikkei Asian Review. If that's accurate, it would be another setback for Apple in what now feels like a six-month free fall.

Is it all the iPhone XR's fault? Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Is it all the iPhone XR's fault? Credit: Tom's Guide)

The newspaper says this new cut is a sign that Apple is "expecting a further hit this year." The Nikkei points out that this is the second time in two months that Apple reportedly cut production. At the very least, it indicates that iPhone sales have hit a plateau.

The troubles seemed to start Nov. 2, 2018, when Apple announced that it would stop reporting iPhone unit sales, to the surprise of analysts and shareholders. Following that, several parts suppliers for the iPhone announced reductions on orders, among them Face ID component maker AMS and iPhone XR screen maker Japan Display.

The lack of demand spurred Apple to try to boost sales through price reductions and promotional offers worldwide. Things looked worse when Apple issued an unusual revised guidance for fiscal first quarter 2019, admitting to fewer iPhone upgrades than the company anticipated.

MORE: The Ride Is Over: Apple Faces the End of the iPhone Boom

But in a CNBC interview with Jim Cramer yesterday (transcript), Apple CEO Tim Cook called bunk on the failing-sales reports.

"Baloney," Cook said. "I call baloney on that."

Specifically, Cook slammed a Wall Street journal report that claimed the iPhone XR was flopping in China and was at the heart of Apple's troubles. Cook said that the XR has been Apple's best-selling phone since its release.

"Since we began shipping the iPhone XR," Cook said, "it has been the most popular iPhone every day."

However, Cook's pivot didn't contradict the reports of manufacturing cuts. While it may be true that Apple's currently best-selling phone is the XR, that doesn't mean that the phone is selling in the numbers Apple expected.

"I mean, do I want to sell more?" Cook rhetorically asked Cramer. "Of course I do. And you know, we're working on that."