On Tuesday Apple announced its latest corporate earnings, a relatively flat quarter that still brought in $11 billion in profits. As always, if you look beyond the raw numbers on its reports and listen to its hour-long phone call with select Wall Street analysts, you can get some interesting perspective on where the company is going.

Rumors suppress demand

If there’s anything Apple likes less than discussing its future product plans, it’s probably other people discussing its future product plans. Aside from a tossed-off joke on stage at a product launch, Apple rarely discusses rumors of what it’s working on. Which is why I was struck by Tim Cook’s response to a question by UBS’s Steve Milunovich about a recent survey from 451 Research that suggested a drop-off in intent from prospective iPhone buyers.

“In general what we are seeing… we believe to be a pause in purchases on iPhone,” Cook said, “which we believe are due to the earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones.”

In other words: Reporting about Apple’s future iPhone plans is becoming more frequent and happening earlier in the process, and it’s having a material impact on Apple’s current iPhone business. Now, there are some caveats here: First, the promise of a redesigned iPhone may have more resonance in an era where the product hasn’t had a major redesign in two and a half years. Second, buying hesitation might be bad today, but it’s not bad tomorrow if that new iPhone ships and Apple sells a ton of them. Still, it’s interesting to see Cook directly address what Apple feels is the impact of future product reports on Apple’s current sales.

Analysts are worried about Qualcomm

A couple of analysts on the phone call asked about Apple’s dispute with Qualcomm over billions of dollars in patent fees. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi went so far as to raise the specter of potential court injunctions that could prevent Apple from selling the iPhone in certain parts of the world.

Cook dismissed that sort of talk: “I don’t believe anyone is going to decide to enjoin the iPhone based on that,” he said. “I think that there’s plenty of case law around that subject, but we shall see.” Cook is not a lawyer, but he employees some pretty good ones, who presumably gave him that advice.

More broadly, though, Cook portrayed Apple’s stand against Qualcomm as being against an unfair licensing regime that gives Qualcomm a share of the entire price of an iPhone. “Qualcomm’s trying to charge Apple a percentage of the total iPhone value,” Cook said. “And they do some really great work around standards essential patents, but it’s one small part of what an iPhone is. It has nothing to do with the display or the Touch ID or a gazillion other innovations that Apple has done. And so we don’t think that’s right.”

Congratulations to whomever had gazillion in the Unlikely Words Tim Cook Might Use on an Analyst Call contest.

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