iPhone 5c, oops! Apple doesn’t play well in the shallow end of the pool

“It appears that the iPhone 5C, Apple’s colorful low-end phone, is not selling well as Apple expected,” Ron Miller writes for CITEworld. “During Monday’s Apple earnings call, Tim Cook admitted that there was a shortage of iPhone 5Ss because they expected the iPhone 5C to sell better than it did. They spent the rest of the quarter trying to catch up with demand.”

“Why hasn’t the colorful lower-priced model caught on? Perhaps it’s because — as Cook suggested — people simply liked the high end finish and features of the 5S better, particularly Touch ID. Given the relatively small price gap between the two, most people seemed willing to pay the extra money to get it,” Miller writes. “The 5C might have been “unapologetically plastic,” but colorful plastic is apparently better suited for the Moto X and various Windows Phones. That’s what Palador co-founder Benjamin Robbins, whose firm helps companies define their mobile strategy, thinks. ‘Budget is not their brand. They historically have been a top tier brand. Their clientele has never responded well to cheap. Their customer loyalty is driven on the exclusivity of the brand. This is a manifestation of platform war whereby they won’t gain Android users by going cheap, they will only lessen their brand and diminish that elite status that their clients love,’ Robbins told me.”

“Apple sold 51 million iPhones in the last quarter. Android may be the leading platform in terms of market share, but Apple is still selling more smartphones and growing faster than every other smartphone vendor except Samsung (according to the latest IDC figures),” Miller writes. “If it wants to continue to do that, it looks like it needs to stay out of the shallow end, because it’s clearly not welcome there.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One mistake: iPhone 5c is not a “low-end” phone. It is, for Apple, a mid-tier device; for everyone else, iPhone 5c is a high-end smartphone – one of the very best smartphones ever made, in fact.

As for the rest: Told ya so. Multiple times. And, in fact, told ya why a year before iPhone 5c was even unveiled.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MacRaven” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Fate of Apple’s iPhone 5c in question – January 29, 2014
Cook tacitly admits Apple blew it with iPhone 5c – January 28, 2014
Was iPhone 5c the cause of Apple’s woes? – January 28, 2014
MacDailyNews presents live notes from Apple’s Q114 Conference Call – January 27, 2014
Apple beats Street with record quarterly revenue, record iPhone and iPad unit sales – January 27, 2014
Why would anyone buy an iPhone 5c instead of an iPhone 5s? – September 10, 2013


  1. How do sales of the 5C compare to whatever the stepped down model was previously? If the 5S has sold dramatically more than previous top models (based on increased overall sales as well) then it’s not so much that the 5C is disappointing, it’s that the 5S is surprisingly popular.

  2. I am willing to give it another few months. Then we will have the iPhone 6 at $199, the 5s at $99 and the 5c at $0 with a contract in the US. In Thailand, where I live, that will translate to the iPhone 6 at $796 the 5s at $663 and the 5c at $496 (approximately). Prices like this just might just change the sales numbers a bit – worldwide.

  3. I upgraded to the 5S for the 64-bit, finger ID sensor, better low light pictures, and higher audio quality of my voice on phone calls. Apple still doesn’t advertise it and they pushed the 5C from the start. Apple abandoned the pattern of the prior iPhone is the cheaper iPhone by inserting a new category. Why? Nothing gained unless they could not get enough of the 5S made. I believe Apple already invested in the weak link when they helped set up the sapphire facility in Arizona.

    If stock price is set on future sales then they are missing that Apple is plugging that supply shortage.

  4. One problem is that the iPad mini didn’t reflect the colors. They intentionally or unintentionally matched the iPad Air with the 5S, so nothing was matched with the 5C. They should have released the iPad Mini in colors.

    1. While were both going get 50+ 1 star ratings I tend to agree. I’m not sure what Apple expected for a phone that is a massive downgrade from the 5s for a relatively small price difference. People can say the 5c was meant to sell more of the 5s but the quarterly results report begs to differ

      1. The 5C is not a “massive” downgrade from the 5S. The 5S introduced significant new features, but the 5C’s price did not reflect the difference between the two models well enough.

        I bought my 13 y.o. son a 5C after his sister dropped his (my old) 4S and cracked the screen. It’s a great phone for kids, I feel it’s sturdier than the 5S I have but certainly does not feel cheap or flimsy.

        Apple’s real problem is that the difference in cases and interior bits was not significant enough to have a big price gap between the two iPhone models to maintain Apple’s desired profit margins. I think we’ll see the 5C’s price adjusted significantly down when the 6 comes out and the 4S will be dropped.

        1. I disagree. To me, metal case, 64Bit and fingerprint scanner is significant enough to have a larger than $100 price difference. Could have been between $200-300 difference and the margin on the 5C would still be high and even if its not, it would have been a nice kick in the balls to google and samsung.

  5. One thing for sure, Chromecasts, Nexus Ones and Nest thermostats are sure doing a hell of a lot more for Google than the iPhone 5C is doing for Apple. Google’s market cap is going to blow right by Apple this year if Tim Cook doesn’t get his ass in gear. They say Google threw away money buying Motorola but you’d never know it considering how well Google is performing. Apple, OTOH, well it’s easy enough to see whatever acquisitions Apple made isn’t doing a damn thing. Apple might as well discontinue the 5C if nobody is willing to buy it for the current price. Maybe Apple should just rip out the phone chips in the 5C and sell it as an updated iPod Touch. All I know is Tim Cook better deliver on his mythical, awesome product pipeline nonsense because Apple’s product engine is definitely sputtering.

    iPod = dying
    AppleTV = crippled
    iPad = OK
    MacBook = OK
    MacBook Pro = OK
    iMac = OK
    Mac Pro = Hopeful
    iPhone = OK
    Retail Stores = OK
    iTunes & App Store = OK

    Is this product lineup really too much for Apple to handle? Seriously, Apple is most a hardware company (says Wall Street). They don’t do game consoles, they don’t do search, they don’t do enterprise cloud, they don’t do social. They hoard mountains of cash. C’mon, Apple, you can do better than what you’re doing now. Any other company would be begging to have the resources Apple has to work with. It just seems as though Apple is pissing away opportunities. Eleven more months to go in 2014. Please, show something positive.

  6. Good grief MDN, how many rehash articles about the 5C do you have to link to. Stop it already.

    None of this would matter if Apple was smart and stopped providing sales figures. None of their competitors do so why should they?

  7. According to one article 27% of iPhone sales last quarter were 5Cs. That is 14M phones. I don’t think that is a bad number to start with. If it were only 5% then I would be really worried.
    Now the question is can Apple increase sales by reducing the price? Drop the price of the 32GB to $99 and the 8GB to $0? Will that increase sales in the low end market and put pressure on the competitors or will it hurt sales of the highly profitable 5S instead. Remember Apple will need to sell 25% more 5Cs at the lower price to make up the difference in revenue.

  8. I really hate all the 5c bashing. I personally own the 5s, but have bought 2 5cs for members of my research team. The day the 5c arrived I regretted not going the 5c route for myself. It just feels better to me. I don’t rely on my phone for photos, and don’t play any intensive games on it, so other than touch ID, I don’t really exploit the differences between the c and s.

  9. The premise here, that seems to be rapidly gaining traction, is that iPhone 5C is not selling well. For greater impact, some reporters are claiming that “nobody is buying 5C!”.

    I can understand that ordinary readers of these claims can easily fall for them, but I am stumped at how MDN people are actually falling for this as well!

    Let us look at the numbers for fiscal Q1-2014 (ended at Dec-2013) from earlier this week:

    Total iPhone sales: 51 million
    5c share of that: some 35% (estimated), or about 16 million

    Apple doesn’t break down iPhone sales by models, so we have to go by estimates. Apparently, most analysts agree that the breakdown between three models available (5s, 5c, 4S) is more-or-less the same as it was in prior years (5-4S-4, or 4S-4-3GS, etc). The top-tier device takes nearly half of sales, middle-tier takes around 30%, oldest/cheapest model takes around 20%.

    By all measures, 5c was the third best-selling mobile phone in the world during last quarter (behind iPhone 5S and a Samsung Galaxy, I’m not sure which specific one).

    Practically ALL competitors would die for the type of sales disaster that is iPhone 5c…

    1. Agreed. The biggest problem for Apple is that it underestimated the 5s’ sales volume compared to the 5c, and thus shortages of the 5s were widely reported (particularly the gold model) while the 5c was readily in stock (particularly the yellow model).

      And let’s be clear: The 5c and the 5s EACH outsold the Galaxy S4.

  10. The 5c had to exist for the 5s to do so well. Apple needed a price point and product to up-sell from. The numbers for the 5c may have been lower than expected but that does not negate its important role in getting more 5s sales.

  11. These articles are ridiculously based in some Fantasy Land…

    All Tim Cook said was that they got the “mix” wrong. Meaning they sold many more 5s’ and not as many 5c’s as they thought they would. The 5c is still selling well – almost as well as the Galaxy S4.

    I’m sure their prediction was based on last years sales numbers of the previous years’ model and then increased it a percentage due to the design change. What they underestimated was the demand for the newest iPhone.

    Personally, I think they should drop the iPhone name from the 5c and let the iPod touch compete in the lower end of the market by stuffing a cellular radio in it.

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