Apple CEO blames rumor-mill for underwhelming iPad sales

Apple iPad sales were up in Q4 of 2012 – just not as much as many analysts had predicted. 

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Apple CEO Tim Cook talks at an Apple event in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2012.

On Friday, Apple released its fourth quarter earnings report.

The good news: Revenue is up 24 percent, and iPhone sales are soaring – Apple unloaded 26.9 million iPhones in Q4, a 58 percent jump from the same time last year. The not-so-good news: Apple sold 14 million iPads during the last quarter, which is obviously a pretty hefty number, and up 14 percent from Q4 of 2011, but somewhat short of the 17 percent predicted by many analysts. 

Summary: Apple is selling a lot of iPads, just not as many iPads as Wall Street would have liked.

So what's to blame for the discrepancy? Well, in an earnings call yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed a finger at gossip-mongers.

"Customers delay purchases of tablets due to new product rumors," he said. "These intensified in August and September. Some was anticipated but some we wished wouldn't occur but it did."

The "new product," in this case, of course, is the iPad Mini, which was unveiled earlier this week. Cook clearly believes that many Apple fans put off purchasing a third-generation iPad, and decided to wait for the iPad Mini instead. 

Alternative theory: the third-generation iPad, even with its "extraordinarily sharp" Retina Display, just wasn't enough of a re-envisioning of the iPad to attract a large swath of new users. 

Not that it's all doom and gloom.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Brian Marshall, a technology analyst at ISI Group, suggested that investors take a wide-angle view.

"The investment community tends to get ‘wrapped around the axle’ on tertiary details and fails to forget the 'big picture,' " Marshall said. "Demand for Apple products is much greater than current supply." 

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