late Tuesday posted a surprise decline in sales during the most recent quarter, with some strategists saying that customers might have delayed buying a new device in anticipation of the 10th anniversary edition of the phone later this year.

The technology behemoth said that it sold 50.76 million iPhones in its fiscal second quarter to 1 April, which was down from 51.19 million during the same period a year earlier.

Analysts on average had estimated iPhone sales of 52.27 million, according to FactSet data. Shares fell around 1.9 per cent to $144.65 apiece in after-hours trading, according to Reuters.

Apple generally launches new iPhones in September and the company usually enjoys a jump in sales in the quarter immediately after that, also helped by Christmas, before demand cools off over the next few quarters.

And on Tuesday, Apple’s chief financial officer Luca Maestri said that the decline was not as bad as it might appear, because of the way that phone sales are calculated.

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Apple’s figures are so-called “sell-in” figures for the iPhone, which show how many phones the company sells to retailers, and not “sell-through” figures, which show  how many phones are sold to consumers.

Mr Maestri said that, during the period, Apple actually cut inventory going through its retail channel by approximately 1.2 million phones, so on a sell-through basis, it sold about 52 million units.

iPhone revenues rose 1.2 per cent in the quarter, helped by a higher average selling price.

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In the first three months of 2017, net income was $11.03bn, or $2.10 per share, up from $10.52bn, or $1.90 per share, during the same period in 2016.

Analysts had on average forecast income of $2.02 per share, according to a Reuters poll.

Additional reporting by news wires


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