Talking about dates in technology announcements

‘Quarters’ are as bad as “Falls” to the non-US world. In Australia, our 1st quarter starts in July.

Just use the names of the months, which happen to be the same, whether in the US or not in the US. Months have the same names in the northern and southern hemispheres despite their seasons being opposite.

I do wish those in Apple HQ, would just use the names of the months instead of Fall. Their extensive use of Fall in those Apple events makes me wonder if Apple people realise people outside the US buy Apple products and services.

I can understand the confusion that “Fall” causes to those in the Southern Hemisphere, but Apple needs the flexibility to not name a specific month when projecting availability several months in advance. Historically we’ve seen unpredictable issues to cause introduction slips within that quarter that would have probably caused Apple to have to embarrass themselves by having to publicly announce delays.

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This is something we’ve struggled with in TidBITS for ages. We try to waffle it by saying “in a few months” or “near the end of the year” or “September or October” or phrases like that. Every now and then it’s impossible to avoid using a seasonal term, either because it’s a quote or because when an article is contextually associated with a season, such as when discussing things that happen in the summer.

I didn’t realize that standard fiscal quarters are different in Australia, but we only really talk about Q1, Q2, etc. in relation to Apple’s fiscal quarters, which also don’t match the norm in the US.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “standard” fiscal quarter. There is a standard “calendar quarter”, where Q1 starts January 1st, but as I understand it, every business defines its own fiscal calendar as it sees fit.

(FWIW, my employer’s fiscal calendar starts September 1st, so it doesn’t line up with any calendar quarter.)

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Yeah, that was what I meant. I would have assumed that Q1 would start in January unless there was some reason not to. But I’m not a financial guy, so maybe it’s completely commonplace for companies to break from the calendar quarters.

Most companies like to align their fiscal calendar with the business cycle of their industry. They usually want their 4th quarter to be a peak-sales period so they can end the year on a high note, which tends to impress analysts and help the stock price.

So retailers, for example, typically start their fiscal year on February 1st. This way their 4th quarter includes all the November and December holiday sales, and so their bookkeepers don’t need to work overtime trying to prepare the annual reports during a period of peak sales.

It’s also not unusual to start the fiscal calendar in the month the company was first founded/incorporated, especially for newer companies where you want to compare the current year returns against the company’s formative years and you don’t want to mess with factoring out a partial-year at the startup time in order to make the numbers line up.

And the US government’s fiscal calendar starts October 1st, so government contractors tend to align with that.

See also: Why Do Different Companies Have Different Fiscal Years?

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I mentioned before that September or October is often the fiscal year starting points for companies with a majority of sales around the the back to school and holiday selling seasons. Apple usually starts the next fiscal year off with a Big Bang, and expected growth in dividends for the future will keep a smile on the faces of investors and the press. Increases in sales and product updates and new launches generally means good publicity. And good first quarters tends to set the tone for expectations for the rest of the fiscal year.

This has been a challenging year for electronics companies…chip shortages, other supply chain issues, shipment backlogs. Apple has delivered strong results in previous quarters despite the very challenging pandemic marketplace, but now there’s increasing inflation. Having very successfully launched their new M chip products has also been a positive boost. Maybe they’ll announce M3 Macs? And it might be time for an iPhone and iPad revamp.

And there has been speculation about headsets for a few years. And there has been lots of talk about Apple launching more streaming TV content, including sports, there could be more stuff to be announced.

The company I used to work for would not divulge release dates for products except under NDA, and then only state calendar quarters, and even that carried a boat load of caveats. We could not state a date/month of release until we were in the month the product was scheduled to be released.

In those cases we would always translate our fiscal quarters into calendar quarters when talking to customers (for us it was easy because the fiscal year started April 1).

The expalanation was that since we were a public company, there were compliance/revenue recognition/forward looking reasons for this.

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