The iPhone 5c was something of a surprise addition to Apple’s wildly successful line of smartphones when it was announced in September of last year. However, less than six months later it looks like Apple’s experiment has failed and the Cupertino giants are ready to cut their losses.
Apple launched the 5c last year as a cut-price companion to their flagship iPhone 5s. With a selection of colorful plastic cases and a smaller screen, the 5c was intended to lure users away from rival Android phones. Reception was muted for the new phone, with reviewers criticizing the build quality that saw the metal casing of the 5s replaced by a plastic casing.
Questions were also raised about the pricing, with the 5c costing $100 less than the fully-featured 5s. Most tech commentators failed to see the point of buying an inferior phone for a relatively small savings. Meanwhile, several budget Android phones arrived on the market with vastly reduced prices. The Google-owned company Motorola released their Moto G for under $180, while Samsung and HTC slashed prices on their respective Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini models.
While Apple generally tends to stay tight-lipped about the sales figures for individual iPhone models, analysts believe that iPhone 5c sales figures have been possibly as much as 30% lower than expected. Strong sales for the iPhone 5s mean that investors don’t have to start getting ready to cut their losses, but Apple’s first attempt at a budget iPhone seems to have failed.
The ultimate fate of the 5c won’t be known until the unveiling of the iPhone 6 later this year, but rumors are drifting up from Apple’s supply chain to suggest that their next round of phones will not include a plastic casing. Insiders seem to think it likely that the idea of a budget iPhone will be dropped entirely, meaning that there will be no iPhone 6c.
If the rumors turn out to be true, it would mark the first real failure for the wildly successful iPhone brand. Since its launch in 2007, iPhones have changed the face of communication, introducing the world to the use of smartphones and providing Apple with one of their most reliable revenue streams.
The brand has experienced setbacks over the years, such as technical issues on the iPhone 4 and the debacle surrounding Apple Maps. None of this has stood in the way of Apple racking up over 400 million iPhone sales in the past seven years, and the iPhone 6 is already one of the most hotly anticipated gadgets in history.
That said, the failure of the iPhone 5c might hurt the personal reputation of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has struggled to demonstrate his predecessor’s golden touch. Cook has not been afraid to make bold decisions at Apple; within a year of taking over, he went against Steve Jobs’ promise to never build a 7″ tablet by launching the iPad Mini. That product has sold well, but has not protected Cook from being accused of lacking innovation. If the iPhone 5c has failed, Cook will no doubt be hoping that Apple doesn’t cut its losses by looking for a new CEO.
By Bernard O’Leary