Apple’s iPhone 5c is no flop

“For several years, Apple engineers have endured catcalls to deliver technology for mass consumption, rather than strictly luxury tastes,” Kofi Bofah writes for Seeking Alpha. “To date, the premium Apple brand has largely remained above the fray of engaging within any price war with the likes of Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.”

“The iPhone 5C was actually a compromise between the idealism of those arguing for an all-inclusive Apple and the exclusive legacy of the late Steve Jobs. For an added touch of symbolism, the Apple iPhone 5C and 5S both hit shelves at the same time, on September 20, 2013,” Bofah writes. “Still, within a few short weeks, Big Media erroneously trashed the iPhone 5C into the bargain bin alongside the Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, and BlackBerry (BBRY) 10. By October, Eric Dutram and Zacks had already dismissed the iPhone 5C as an ‘ongoing disaster.’ In retrospect, however, Apple iPhone 5C haters were in the market for fried ice. The 5C was no flop.”

“If anything, iPhone 5C related sales figures and commentary support Apple’s dominance as the alpha consumer electronics movement,” Bofah writes. “Going forward, any perceived fallout from the iPhone 5C launch should actually power long-term outperformance in Apple shares.”

“The 5C actually fared quite well, as a replacement for the largely discontinued iPhone 5 and direct competitor against the Samsung Galaxy line. Research firm Counterpoint actually listed the 5C as the world’s fourth most popular handset through October 2013,” Bofah writes. “The iPhone 5S, iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Samsung Note III rounded out the top-five. The Apple iPhone 5C was never meant to be a blockbuster. The 5C was actually a smash hit when graded for its supporting role.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. iPhone 5c sales need to be compared to previous models that were below the top level model. Previously these were stepped down top end models, so you could perhaps hope that the 5c would do better to justify the development of a new model (albeit it being broadly the same spec wise). Ultimately though, if Apple are selling more across the board then it could be argued that it’s more that the 5S is a huge success than that the 5c is a failure.

  2. This comes as no surprise. Obviously the 5S was the star attraction and was selling in greater number than expected, but the 5C was also selling well and it’s been consistently in the top 5 of various sales surveys since it was launched.

    Just because the 5S sold better, it didn’t mean that the 5C was a flop, they had different roles and were serving different markets.

    To put it another way, the 5C sold well, while the 5S sold unbelievably well.

    1. Yeah, not to mention an all white model. How come nobody says anything about Apple’s questionable color selection? White back with a black front? Come on man.

      I’m a 5S owner but if I had to buy a 5C they don’t even have a color combination for me.

    2. iMac (1) – Bondi Blue
      iMac (2) – 5 colors
      iMac (3) – Graphite

      I believe that in product marketing’s plans the entry-level is pushed up into the luxury line by improving specs and decreasing color influence.

      In other words, next year’s 5C might be in black and white only, with the specs from the 5S of today.

      1. Apple sure missed a bet by not offering a Bondi Blue 5c. It would have gone ballistic. A black one would have done well, too, for those desiring a more professional appearance.

  3. This is the result of Apple being so secretive with their breakdown of iPhone sales. If you’re not going to release any numbers, then the media and analysts are going to make their best guesses.

    If the iPhone 5C is selling more than the iPhone 4 last year, then I would consider it a success.

  4. If everyone outside of Apple says it’s a flop, then it must be a flop. That’s how things work. Apple didn’t sell as many 5C units as everyone else said they should. Apparently, there was some golden ratio of 5S to 5C sales that was supposed to be met. Since those outside projected numbers did not fit that golden ratio then the 5C must be a failure.

    You have to understand how Apple product sales numbers have to fit expectations. It’s usually Apple guidance plus 10%. Anything less is a catastrophic failure. Anything Apple does must leave room for a fatal flaw.


    1. rbf, Much better.
      Satire is always much better when its known to be satire. With todays trolling comments by many, its hard to tell sometimes what might be trolling and what might be unlabeled satire.

      Only a few do it so well, that its obvious satire. Zune Tang, where are you??

      Just saying.

    2. I like that, especially your inspired reference to a golden ratio — this is a whole new can of worms to exploit by the many, many people who enjoy pitching spit wads at the arrogant electronics giant.

      In years past, only the popularity of the flagship iPhone was considered worth assailing, whilst the 2nd- and 3rd-tier offerings, being old bacon, were ignored.

      Apple’s rebranding of what would have been a mere 2nd-tier product as a second new iPhone — independent promoting it with its own ad campaign, even — has actually opened their flank to attack, giving platform jihadists another point of tactical engagement.

      Good — it was getting a bit dreary, what with the anti-Apple crowd going soft.

    3. Your first sentence is false. It reminds me of a politician who was running for reelection and who was considered a looser by all commentators, pudits and other pros, but who secured 80 % of the votes. His comment was “Everyone is against me, except the People.”

  5. The 5c wasn’t a flop, it just wasn’t significantly better than simply keeping the 5 as the entry level model.
    The idea was that a “cheaper” entry model would massively boost volume, but it did not. There was an increase in volume but not enough to offset the lower margins.

    Apple could have saved themselves a LOT of time and money by simply continuing the 5.

    5c wasn’t a flop but it definitely did not have the impact Apple hoped for. Now if Apple could drop the price–and keep decent margins– by another $100 – $200 in the next year, that might boost volumes.

    I still think that Apple should use the 5c tech to make iPods as cheap as possible. A $100 cheaper iPod is much more enticing than a $100 cheaper phone because of the telco fees.

    1. Not necessarily. The 5c could very well be a supply chain play, given that the shell and internals are much easier (and cheaper) to manufacture than the 5 or 5s. The CNC-machined aluminum shell on the 5 and 5s I recall are comparatively time-consuming to make. Keeping the 5 could have created a supply pinch by having to ramp up two models using those shells and internals. You already have the huge demand for the 5s, and adding the latent demand for the 5-class model could have meant Apple not meeting the combined demand for the top tier and middle tier models. Given the lower demand for the 5c, there’s not as much supply chain pressure to ramp up that model and the manufacturing process is more streamlined to begin with.

  6. Again the 5c was a necessity there are not enough CNC machines to produce the 5 and 5s in qty. A new case had to be built depending on the case requirements of the 6 we will see if the 5s goes down market or a plastic version is created.

  7. Certainly not a flop… apple just underestimated how many people were willing to a pay a premium for the 5S – a good problem to have.

    Here’s how it worked… a person walks into an apple store and compares the $199 32GB 5C to the $199 16MB 5S… they want a basic phone with lots of memory for music and apps… but they are sold on the 5S at the same price… suddenly they hop from the $199 5S to the $399 64MB model on impulse because this is going to be their smartphone for the next 2 years.

  8. Until I actually see an iPhone 5c in the wild, I will continue to refer to it as Apple’s Zune. Perhaps it’s just because I associate with mature adults, but every single one of them seems to prefer a metal phone, and they overwhelmingly dislike iOS7. YMMV.

    1. Try getting out more, or wearing your bifocals more often (admittedly presumptuous presumption on my part, given that you cite “mature adults” as your peer group). On train commutes alone, I’ve seen plenty of the 5c’s in use and plenty of them appear to be used by persons with wrinkles and/or grey hair in plain view. Given that I don’t make a point of talking to strangers on the train, I cannot vouch for their maturity level based on appearances alone.

      And among the middle aged adults (mature is such a subjective term, don’t you think?) that I know, I don’t hear much complaining about iOS 7.

      And speaking for myself, as a middle aged adult (again, mature is a subjective assessment) who owns devices with both 6 and 7 running — now that I’ve gotten used to iOS 7, I much prefer it to iOS 6.

  9. Had another company sold only the 13 million or so Apple sold last quarter, that company would have been #3 on the smartphone sales lost behind ScamScum and Apple. That’s success not failure.

  10. Sooooo… Is this the end of MDN’s campaign of beating Tim Cook around the head with the “failure” of the iPhone 5c? Couldn’t help but notice the lack of a Take.


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