Conflicting reports peg the MacBook Pro 2016 release date as being either on October 24 or October 27. The problem is, both dates seem valid because Apple just moved its fourth quarter earnings call from October 27 to October 25.

The reason both dates hold water is actually a two-sided argument. On the one hand, Apple has warned investors about ‘soft’ sales for the iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2016. Despite the roaring success of the iPhone 7, Apple only had about three weeks worth of sales fall during the fourth quarter, which ends September 30, 2016.

From their Q3 Earnings Call:

“iPhone accounted for the vast majority of the channel inventory reduction. iPhone unit sell-through was down just 8% year on year, an even greater improvement over the March quarter than we predicted, and we expect the September quarter sell-through comparison to improve further. We feel good about our channel inventory levels and believe they position us well for the months ahead.”

So they’re clearly expecting lower sales, but not as bad as hoped. The iPhone SE, it seems, did pretty well during the third quarter:

We had a very successful global launch of iPhone SE, and demand outstripped supply throughout the quarter. We brought on additional capacity and were able to achieve supply/demand balance as we entered the September quarter. At its launch, we said that the addition of the iPhone SE to the iPhone lineup placed us in a better position to meet the needs of customers who love a four-inch phone and to attract even more customers into our ecosystem.

In both cases, that strategy is working. Our initial sales data tells us that the iPhone SE is popular in both developed and emerging markets, and the percentage of iPhone SE sales going to customers who are new to iPhone is greater than we’ve seen in the first weeks of availability for other iPhones launched in the last several years.”

Coming back to the launch date, an October 24 release for the MacBook Pro 2016 could mean they’re trying to soften up investors before a hard crash on iPhone sales numbers the following day. On the other hand, they could be reserving it for October 27 as an explosive follow-up to a poor quarter.

Either way, an October launch seems to be set in stone. It’ll be just in time for the holiday season, and Apple will hope to sell as many as it can to make up for lost sales over the past quarter.

“Apple sold 4.3 million Macs in Q3, generating revenue of $5.2bn. That compares unfavourably to 4.8 million units in Q3 last year for a revenue of $6bn.”

Apple doesn’t break out sales in terms of Mac models, but overall sales were $800 million down from the prior period, and that spells trouble.

The MacBook Pro 2016 can possibly dig Apple out of this hole as far as the Mac is concerned, but that will only reflect as part of 1Q-2017 sales. They’re not likely to have improved Mac sales over the July to September quarter in any significant way because no new models were released during that time. However, at the end of the day it’s investor sentiment that controls stock prices, not necessarily sales numbers.

We’ll have to hold our breath until the 24th of the month to see which way Apple will decide to go with the launch of the MacBook Pro 2016 – before or after the earnings call.

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