What’s Up With Apple: Mask Mandate Dropped, iPhone Sales and More

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) plans to drop its requirement that customers wear masks in about a third of its U.S. Apple Stores. Beginning Friday, more than 100 of the company’s 270 or so stores in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York will drop the mask mandate.

Declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases and higher numbers of vaccinations are behind the change, according to a report from Bloomberg, citing an internal memo it obtained:

After careful review, the Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) team, along with leadership, have determined it’s safe to update our guidance on masks for customers in your store. The positive trends in vaccinations, testing, and case counts for your area have made this change possible.

Apple will not be asking customers whether they have been vaccinated. Apple dropped the mask requirement at its Apple Stores in June but reinstated it in July as infection rates rose.

Store employees will continue to be required to wear masks: “Team members have longer interactions in store and are in close proximity throughout the day.” Masks also will be required in locations where local governments have mandated wearing masks.

Analysts at market research firm Counterpoint Research reported Wednesday that the U.S. smartphone market grew by 9% quarter over quarter and 11% year over year in the third quarter. Apple led the pack with a market share of 42%, compared to 35% for second-ranked Samsung. No other smartphone maker could claim more than a 7% share. Apple’s market share rose by three points year over year, while Samsung’s rose by five points.

Counterpoint’s senior research director, Jeff Fieldhack, commented:

Despite shortages, Apple’s iPhone 13, which was launched late in the quarter, contributed to 17% of [Apple’s] total sales in Q3. We expect to see continued strength in iPhone 13 sales as we enter the holiday quarter. Samsung was also able to have a successful launch of its latest foldable devices and has had success in pushing its most affordable 5G smartphone, the Samsung A32 5G, through carriers such as T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile.

Briefly noted:

On Friday morning, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (aka, Foxconn), the Taiwan-based firm that assembles virtually all of Apple’s iPhones, reported monthly revenue for October of about $19.75 billion, a month-over-month decline of nearly 6% and a year over year decline of 10%. For the year to date, the company reported revenue of about $166.9 billion, reflecting a year-over-year increase of 17.3%.

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