In an October 2015 earnings call Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said that if he turned off his television and shut off the web he “wouldn’t know there were any economic issues at all in China.”

Today, Mr. Cook wouldn’t be able to avoid knowing the effects of Asia’s market and monetary issues if he lived in a bomb shelter.

Just six months after the company reported their Greater China revenue had doubled year-over-year to $12.5 billion USD, Apple is facing their first ever decline in iPhone sales, and a 26 percent drop in Greater China sales.

Cook pointed to Hong Kong as the source of the company’s wavering China sales, saying that the strength of the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar, had deterred tourists from buying at their usual rate.

Excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan, sales in mainland China dropped 11 percent, and 7 percent on a constant currency basis, said Mr. Cook.

Smartphone saturation has plagued local and international vendors in China. The astronomical success of the iPhone 6 in early 2015 also set a high bar for the company to meet in 2016, according to the company, which predicted the lower sales. The iPhone 6S wasn’t met with the same enthusiasm as the original 6 globally, Mr. Cook conceded, saying that “if we’d had the same rate on 6S as 6, it would be time for a huge party.”

Despite the gloomy outlook hanging over China’s saturated market, Mr. Cook said he remains “optimistic” about the potential of China to remain a stable growth market for the company.

Total global sales of iPhones dipped from 61.2 million in the same quarter last year to 51.2 million. The company’s shares dipped 8 percent in the wake of the latest earnings report, despite an effort to appease investors through a boost in share buybacks.

Cate Cadell

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or catecadell@technode.com

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