China is cited as the reason for weakening iPhone sales as that country's economy slows, which has been impacted by a trade war with the United States.
Apple cut its quarterly sales forecast for the first time in 16 years last week, saying that iPhone sales were lower than expected, particularly in China. But if even "affordable" iPhone models like the XR are retailing for £749 / $749 (AU$1,229), with flagship models pushing into four-figure sums, Apple may be testing the determination of its fan base a bit too hard. The surprise warning triggered a broad sell-off in global stock markets.More news: The DJI Smart Controller takes drone flying to new heights
Market research firm Canalys estimates shipments fell 12 percent in China past year and expects smartphone shipments in 2019 to dip another three percent, to below 400 million for the first time since 2014.
Apple originally planned to ship up to 48 million old and new iPhones in the first quarter of 2019, but with the cuts, it will now ship 40 to 43 million units.
Apple's iPhone suppliers include Taiwanese assemblers Foxconn and Pegatron who are not moving to confirm the reports. But it's also a drop of over 20 percent when you look at the 52.21 million iPhones that Apple sold in the year-ago quarter.More news: Lenovo's Smart Clock is an adorably tiny display with Google Assistant
As Chinese demand has faltered, Apple has increased focus on India, which recently overtook the United States as the world's second-largest smartphone market.
Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.More news: Toronto Raptors sign Patrick McCaw to a one-year contract