Peloton Stumbles and Pulls Out a Popular Excuse: It’s Partly Apple’s Fault

Peloton Stumbles and Pulls Out a Popular Excuse: It’s Partly Apple’s Fault

After experiencing massive growth at the onset of the pandemic last year, Peloton is sputtering. While there isn’t a singular cause for its woes, Peloton did single out one company for being behind some of them: Apple.

The company reported a surprising loss in its latest earnings report on Thursday and cut its outlook for the full fiscal year. Peloton had a net loss of $US376 (A$508) million in the last quarter, which is more than analysts expected and a striking contrast to the $US69.3 (A$94) million in net income it reported a year earlier. The company also missed analysts’ revenue estimates, reporting $US805.2 (A$1,088) million instead of the expected $US810.7 (A$1,096) million, although it did meet its $US800 (A$1,081) million forecast. Moreover, it experienced a 17% slump in sales of its fitness products.

In an earnings call on Thursday, the company laid some of the blame for its results this quarter on Apple and its new Ad Tracking Transparency feature, or ATT, Bloomberg reported. Rolled out as part of iOS 14.5, ATT allows users to grant or deny apps permission to track their activity for target advertising. This had made it more difficult for Peloton to target shoppers based on their interests, the outlet stated.

Peloton isn’t the only company that has pointed accusingly at Apple lately. When reporting its third quarter earnings at the end of October, Facebook (now called Meta) — which depends on targeted ads for almost 98% of its revenue — said that ATT had decreased the accuracy of its ad targeting. The feature also increased “the cost of driving outcomes” for advertisers, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explained, and made it harder to measure those outcomes.

“Overall, if it wasn’t for Apple’s iOS 14 changes, we would have seen positive quarter-over-quarter revenue growth,” Sandberg said.

On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that ATT had cost Snap, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube an estimated $US9.85 (A$13) billion in lost revenue in the second half of this year. That’s an 87% increase year over year. Its entire subscriber base, which includes users that only pay to access workout content, stood at 6.2 million.

“[W]e anticipated fiscal 2022 would be a very challenging year to forecast, given unusual year-ago comparisons, demand uncertainty amidst re-opening economies, and widely-reported supply chain constraints and commodity cost pressures,” Peloton said in a shareholder letter, adding: “While we are reducing our near-term forecast, our confidence in and commitment to our strategy is unchanged.”

In addition, the company said it would re-examine its expenses and take steps to adjust its operating costs to be in line with its revised growth forecast.

As we mentioned before, Peloton can’t blame all its troubles on Apple. It has supply chain issues (like a lot of companies). People are returning to the office, which means they’re not spending as much time at home as before. They’re also returning to gyms. Planet Fitness said on Thursday that it had 15 million members, almost as much to the 15.5 million it had before the pandemic.

“People are choosing bricks and mortar. They’re coming back faster than we’ve ever seen. They’re rejoining our clubs faster than we’ve ever seen,” Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau told CNBC. “All the winds are blowing the right direction, and the sails are wide open.”

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