"It's that there are more rumors floating and more press articles and mentions of new things, and when that happens, a percentage of people delay," Cook told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer on Wednesday.
The CEO said that that the widespread leaks hit business particularly hard in China, where it is culturally popular to buy the newest gadgets.
"That probably affects us more in China than other places because there's a tendency there to buy the latest thing, although I have to say, the [iPhone] 7 Plus has done extraordinarily well there," Cook said.
Watch the full segment here:
While smartphone buyers may have held their breath, Cook said other areas of Apple's business in China, where it is one of the largest foreign companies, stayed hot throughout the quarter.
"When I back up from China, what I see is the Mac business grew 20 percent. You know, this is extraordinary. The Watch grew nicely. Services is just on a tear there. Chinese developers have really done a great job of delivering apps that people really want there. And so there's a whole set of things that's going well," he told Cramer.
Cook added that global iPhone 7 Plus sales greatly exceeded the company's expectations. "It's so incredibly popular, so much more popular than we planned," he said.
And with growth in four of the five geographical segments in which Apple does business, Cook remained optimistic about lifting China out of its iPhone sales rut.
"We didn't grow in China, but we did remarkably better than we did over the second half of last year, which is what we expected, and it's what we delivered. And we feel that we'll do even better this quarter," he said.
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