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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
With the iPhone's global dominance waning, there's a growing chorus of skeptics betting that Apple is headed the way of Blackberry and Nokia.
Why it matters: While Apple still generates ridiculous cash flow, the nearly $900 billion megacompany's growth is built on its ability to reinvent and dominate entire product categories, which it hasn't done lately. Doubters don't see evidence that Apple still has the innovative juice it needs to dominate not just tech but the global consumer marketplace.
The iPhone is Apple's most important product and generates the bulk of its revenue. The App Store and various other offerings feed off the iPhone's ubiquity and popularity.
Apple's biggest problem is China, where it is no longer seen as a trend-setting company and the new iPhone has stopped being a must-have, luxury product, says Linda Zhang, CEO of Purview Investments.
Investors have taken notice. Following the company's first quarter earnings report — which beat expectations, but revealed the steepest decline ever in iPhone sales — Apple became by far the most shorted company in the world, according to data provided to Axios from S3 Partners.
Yes, but: This could all turn around — because we really don't know what Apple is cooking. The iPhone itself was a second act for Apple, which nearly died in the late 90s.
Apple representatives declined to comment.
Many who follow the tech space are starting to doubt the Apple story. Aija Leiponen, professor of applied economics at Cornell's SC Johnson College of Business, told Axios in March she's been wary of Apple's new offerings.
By the numbers: Globally, smartphone sales are slowing down, but data shows Apple is doing especially poorly. Consumers are slower to upgrade their iPhones, and they're switching brands.
As dollars have grown scarce at many traditional retail outlets, cosmetics powerhouse Estée Lauder has found an interesting way to make its money. For the first time last year, it generated more revenue at airports globally than at U.S. department stores, data shows.
What's happening: The airport is becoming a booming shopping destination and Estée Lauder, home to brands like Clinique, MAC and Tom Ford Beauty, has been taking full advantage.
The big picture: Globally, sales from duty-free shops and other travel-retail channels rose almost 10% to a record $76 billion in 2018, according to research firm the Data Circle.
The June reading of the Empire State Manufacturing Index, a regional survey of manufacturing industry business owners by the New York Fed, was quite bad. The headline reading was -8.6, down from 17.8 the month before, the largest monthly decline ever recorded.
Yes, but: "This looks terrible, but it won't last," says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients. "The survey is conducted during the first 10 days of the month so it likely reflects the peak of Mexico tariff fear. ... During that period, businesses appear to have panicked."
With 496 S&P 500 companies having reported first quarter earnings, more than three quarters (75.6%) beat expectations, with Q1 earnings now expected to increase 1.6%, data from Lipper shows.
What it means: That's a far cry from the first stage of an earnings recession analysts feared early in the year.
But, but, but: Investors are hardly out of the woods, as fears are growing about substantiated damage from the U.S.-China trade war, most recently thanks to a report from semiconductor giant Broadcom.
"As a result [of the trade war], demand volatility has increased and our customers are actively reducing inventory levels to manage risks. This leads us to believe the second half of 2019 will be more in line with the first half as opposed to the previously expected recovery. We now anticipate fiscal 2019 semiconductor solutions segment revenue of $17.5 billion, which translates into a year-over-year decline in the high single digits.”