In the March quarter, our gross margin was 37.5%. It was at the low end of our range. We had a few items that on balance resulted in us reporting at the low end. They included mix, in particular, selling more iPads than we had planned, including getting iPad mini into our four- to six-week channel inventory range, some changes in our service policies that required us to make provisions for prior quarter sales, and we had some unfavorable adjustments.
– Peter Oppenheimer, Apple CFO, FQ2 2013 Earnings Conference Call
Thanks to Philip Elmer DeWitt for bringing this quote to my attention in the comments to Margin Call 2.
I was curious about the “changes in service policies” and what that might have meant, especially since they seem to have been retroactive (provisions for prior quarter sales).
The 10Q offers more details:
Accruals for product warranty for the three months ended March 30, 2013 include $414 million associated with product sales in prior fiscal periods reflecting the impact of changes to certain of the Company’s service policies and other estimated warranty costs. Of this amount, $224 million is associated with product sales in the first quarter of 2013, and the remainder is associated with product sales in 2012.
– Apple 10Q, Note 6, Page 17, second paragraph.