Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2010 (Revised February 2011)

Accounting for the iPhone at Apple Inc.

by Francois Brochet, Krishna G. Palepu and Lauren Barley

Abstract

Apple initially recognized revenue associated with its iPhone product using subscription accounting. However, in 2008, the company started providing non-GAAP supplemental numbers where substantially all of the revenue was recognized upfront. Market participants' reactions to the disclosure were mixed. Was Apple "right" in arguing that subscription accounting was inadequate for the iPhone?

Keywords: Corporate Disclosure; Revenue Recognition; Standards; Technology Industry; United States;

Citation:

Brochet, Francois, Krishna G. Palepu, and Lauren Barley. "Accounting for the iPhone at Apple Inc." Harvard Business School Case 111-003, September 2010. (Revised February 2011.)