"While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, USA dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements".
Apple's surprise announcement added to concerns about the ability of USA companies, particularly its technology giants, to navigate an increasingly uncertain economy and a continuing trade war between the United States and China.
On the other hand, Cook also stressed that Apple showed considerable strengths in other areas (particularly in its cash assets: the company is now sitting on about $130 billion).
His comments came after the company warned investors this week that its earnings will be badly weakened by a sales slowdown brought on in part by Trump's trade war with China.
Click the audio player above to hear Marketplace reporter Ben Bradford on how Apple's services could make up for the tech company's softer smartphone sales. Apple's stock fell an additional 9.3 percent Thursday morning.
So what happened? Cook cites a number of factors, including the timing of the newest iPhone launches and supply constraints across some product categories. The company also sees the traffic to retail stores and partner sellers in China declining in the quarter. When the suspension on selling was lifted, Apple shares fell 7.45%.
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Despite these challenges, Cook said, "we believe that our business in China has a bright future".
Apple had predicted sales revenue for the first quarter of 2019 to be within a range of $89 to $93 billion, and analysts were sitting closer to a $91 billion prediction. The iPhone maker made a rare cut to its sales outlook Wednesday, blaming a bigger deceleration in emerging markets, especially China.
If you look at our results, our shortfall is over 100 percent from iPhone and it's primarily in greater China.
China's "economy began to slow there for the second half", Cook said during an interview with CNBC on Wednesday afternoon.
The price gap is one reason Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone sales from April through September a year ago to seize the No. 2 spot behind industry leader Samsung, according to the research firm International Data Corp. The US president who has been at loggerheads with China and one of the big reason Apple said its revenue has fallen down has been the trade war between the two countries. The company also saw "fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated", he said.
"While China demand, trade/tariff worries, lower priced competition, and competition in the mature smart phone industry are all clear headwinds for Apple, we stay bullish on the name purely on our belief in Cupertino's ability to monetise its 1.3 billion active installed base and drive upgrades/services around this for the coming years", Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush, told clients on Thursday.