Apple removed the unit sales figures to force outsiders to think in a different way about the company. Yes, they should've done this years ago if this was their main concern (it wasn't), but we’re left with few options:
The obvious: revenue growth. Split by services and hardware segments, we can have an overall good picture of how they're doing financially wise. — Also: check the margins for ASP indicators.
Installed base: I hope Apple continues dropping these figures from time to time (“300 million active iPads”, “100 million active Macs”, “1.3 billion iOS devices”, and so on). Maybe this could become a quarterly figure now.
Dig up clues as we've been doing with the Apple Watch. Note every mention of percentage growth and 'doubling' and 'more than' and try to make the model fit.
Back to basics: email scraping firms, app analytics and web usage can become a good indicator. Who's going to do a good link analysis jobs with all those unconnected facts? Who knows.
Ironically, the two players than can have a very good idea of how Apple is doing are Google and Facebook through their vast analytics networks. Their main rivals in the AR race.
Oh and Apple issued a reclassification of net sales by category (PDF). Now all the revenue from Maps, Siri and free iCloud services (a $2 billion business) will be on the "Services" category, not on the iPhone.
Apple and Amazon join forces. Apple will directly sell their products on Amazon after January 4th, 2019: iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, Mac, and so on... save for the HomePod, interestingly.
Until now, the only way to buy most of Apple products on Amazon was through 3rd party resellers. The deal also means these independent resellers won't be able to sell Apple products on Amazon without the Apple's authorisation after said date, and many of them are rightfully mad.
Will Apple adopt the new flexible displays? Samsung showed their new flexible screen tech, given their dual role as a OEM and provider, it could make their way onto iPhones in the future. Apple tends to adopt new tech later than most (3G, 4G, big screens, USB-C, etc.) before going all in.
We can assume 2019-2020 iPhones are already designed and are closed by now. So probably Apple could consider that tech for the 2021 or later devices, but not before.
Landmark win for the “right to repair” movement as the Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office proposes new rules that'll provide consumers and independent repair shops a "legal angle" to hack and tweak embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them.
Apple is the main opponent to this 'old dynamic', both figuratively and literally in many countries. Apple tightly controles what authorised repairs shops can do, and installs chips than could be used to kill the device remotely.
Only 39% Americans trust Apple with their data. The figure is twice as high as Facebook with 22%, but below Amazon (49%), Microsoft (40%) and surprisingly, Google, with 41%.
Xiaomi enters the UK market, Apple's European stronghold. The Chinese company has been a formidable enemy to Samsung and their growth has been mostly at the Korean company's expense. — In the long term it could affect Apple's strategy for Europe too. Xiaomi has yet to enter the German market, but in the past year it started disrupting the WE market.