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Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Apple warned Wednesday that revenue from its holiday quarter will fall short of prior estimates, a rare occurrence for the iPhone maker.

Why it matters: Apple is one of the world's biggest companies and a significant driver of the tech economy. The company said it now expects revenue of around $84 billion, down from a prior estimate of between $89 billion and $93 billion.

Shares fall: Apple's stock tumbled once after-hours trading resumed after a brief halt. Shares changed hands recently at $146.10, down $11.82 or nearly 7.5%.

In a letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook blamed slow iPhone sales in China for the shortfall.

"While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China," Cook said. "In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad."

Cook added that the trade war between the U.S. and China exacerbated the weakening economy there, and that he hasn't seen any signs Apple has been targeted by the Chinese government.

The context: There had been hints of weak iPhone demand for weeks, with a number of reports of suppliers and contract manufacturers cutting production plans. Yet similar reports have also appeared after strong launch quarters, too.

  • Outside of the iPhone and China, Apple said its business was strong. Cook said Apple's non-iPhone businesses (aka services, Mac, iPad, wearables and accessories) up 19% year-over-year. However, the iPhone is the biggest driver of Apple's sales and profits.

Thought bubble, via tech editor Scott Rosenberg: Apple's warning, while rare and a temporary shock to its shares, is probably more alarming for the wider world, since Apple's visibility into what is actually happening in China is likely to be more reliable than more official info on the state of Chinese economy. In other words, this could be worse news for China — and the world economy — than for Apple specifically.

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger planefrom Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

22 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Putin confers with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov tomorrow in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."