The iPhone 5c is a mistake, a failure, a disaster, a flop, a dud

The iOSphere speaks out, freaks out

Here's a hit list of iPhone 5c hysteria, from the iOSphere. We post the headline, the claim, and the reality.

Here’s a hit list of iPhone 5c hysteria, from the iOSphere. We post the headline, the claim, and the reality.

Iphone 5c

Did the iPhone 5c Hurt Apple's North America Sales? 

Seth Fiegerman, Mashable

The claim: “Cook attributed the decline [in sales] to two factors: carriers and the iPhone 5c. ‘We actually sold more iPhone 5Ses than we projected. The mix was stronger to the 5s,’ he said, confirming reports in recent months that suggested far more consumers were flocking to the more expensive iPhone 5s over the cheaper 5c. ‘It took us some amount of time to build the mix that customers were demanding and as a result, we lost some sort of units for part of the quarter in North America.’ ”

The reality: Cook actually attributed the slower iPhone growth in the U.S. to 1) higher-than-expected demand for the iPhone 5s, and the corresponding delay in cranking out enough units to meet that demand, and 2) fewer upgrades by mobile subscribers because carriers changed or more strictly enforced their upgrade policies. He didn’t mention the iPhone 5c.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD The great 'iPhone 5C is a failure' freakout +

Op-Ed: Apple’s iPhone 5c Has Been A Mistake That Won’t Be Repeated 

Bryan Wolfe, AppAdvice

The claim: “Cupertino will never admit it, but the mid-priced iPhone 5c could be Apple’s first product failure of the iPhone era….Apple is already taking steps to kill the iPhone 5c[.] Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces to suggest this is where Apple is heading are beginning to fall into place. The less expensive plastic exterior found on the iPhone 5c is being ditched, according to the [Wall Street Journal].”

The reality: The jigsaw puzzle is a figment of Wolfe’s imagination and its pieces are anonymous sources “familiar with the situation” (in the case of the Wall Street Journal), pure rumor, and context-less data points.  There is so far no credible evidence that shows or hints that Apple is either killing the 5c or ditching its plastic exterior.

The iPhone 5c Turned Out To Be A Dud 

Steve Kovach, BusinessInsider

The claim: “And it looks like the 5c is turning out to be a dud in terms of sales (it's still a nice phone), at least compared to the iPhone 5s. While Apple doesn't break out sales of individual models, we have plenty of evidence showing that the 5c isn't performing very well with consumers.”

The reality: Kovach is saying that the 5c would be successful only if it sold some unspecified number closer to the sales total of the 5s. That may be Kovach’s criteria, but Apple has never disclosed what its own measure of success is for the 5c (and it’s unlikely to be Kovach’s). The main evidence he cites is a rise in the average selling price of the iPhone, returning to its customary and – unique in the smartphone industry - high level. The rise in the ASP does, indeed, show that the 5s is popular. It doesn’t show that the 5c is a dud.  

What Went Wrong With the iPhone 5c? 

Chris Maxcer, TechNewsWorld

The claim: “One thing is clear: Had the iPhone 5c had gangbuster sales, Apple CEO Tim Cook or CFO Peter Oppenheimer would have had very nice things to say about it on their conference call with investors this week. Apple pretty much always touts excellent performance in some form or another, but the iPhone 5c? What did we really hear? Crickets....”

The reality: Maxcer’s argument is an argument from silence: If Apple doesn’t tout excellent performance for 5c sales, then it follows that the 5c went wrong. In fact, Tim Cook clearly stated during the call “…if you looked at our sell-throughs not the sell-in but the sell-through of what I will just call our entry phone or mid-phone and our top part of the 5s. [You’ll see that] All of those grew year-over-year versus the phones that were in those categories previously.” That is clear.

RIP, iPhone 5c: You’re A Flop [Chart] 

John Brownlee, CultOfMac

The claim: “If you love the iPhone 5c, here’s a painful chart, courtesy of analytics platform Mixpanel: growth of the iPhone 5c is pretty much stagnant at just around 6% (roughly where it’s been since Christmas), even as the iPhone 5s has achieved a 20% share of the iPhone market, overtaking the iPhone 4 and approaching the iPhone 4s in popularity. It seems pretty obvious at this point that Apple will kill the ‘C’ line when the iPhone 6 launches, but what will take its place?”

The reality: Brownlee seems to think the chart represents “share of the market.” It doesn’t. (The chart is still live at the Mixpanel website.) Mixpanel tracks in-app actions, dubbed “records,” generated by end users interacting with a server or cloud. “What that means is that we record in-app actions/behavior from all our customers' customers,” says Mixpanel founder Suhail Doshi, in an email. “So, for example, if someone uploads a photo on a photo sharing app, that would be an action. If someone watches a video, that would be another action.” In this case, what the chart says is that about 6 percent of all iOS in-app actions over the past four weeks were done using an iPhone 5c. Whatever that ultimately means, it doesn’t mean what Brownlee thinks it means.

Opinion: Will Apple abandon the ‘low-cost’ iPhone concept after apparent failure of 5c?

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The claim: “Apple doesn’t break down its iPhone sales figures, so we don’t know for sure that the iPhone 5c sold poorly, but certainly everything we do know seems to point in that direction – from early sales estimates through analytics and consumer surveys to Apple switching production from the 5c to the 5s. Apple’s reasoning was this: There are those who will always buy the latest model. There are those who want to pay less and are happy with last year’s tech. But there may be other categories: potential customers who weren’t going to buy either an iPhone 5s or an iPhone 5 but could be persuaded to spend iPhone 5 money on something recognizably new.”

The reality: Lovejoy labels his post “opinion” and is more cautious than many others. But he, too, falls into the easy assumption that “certainly everything we do know seems to point” to the 5c selling “poorly.” The “early sales estimates” by outsiders – for the first extension to the iPhone brand -- is pretty useless as a metric.  “Switching production” was asserted in a Digitimes story citing only anonymous “industry sources”: adjusting manufacturing to balance inventory is routine and doesn’t support Lovejoy’s contention that it was due to the 5c selling poorly. In fact, the 5c apparently is winning over prospects “who are willing to spend money on something recognizably new. According to Tim Cook, the 5c is selling better than the previous phone in that category – the discounted iPhone 4s, and Apple saw a “significant” number of first-time iPhone users buy the 5c.

Tim Cook admits iPhone 5c share lower than expected, says demand was 'different than we thought' 

Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

The claim: “Demand percentage for the iPhone 5c ‘turned out to be different than we thought,’ Cook said during his company's quarterly earnings conference call….Cook declined to say what Apple is planning to do in the future with its mid-range, plastic-backed iPhone. However, the CEO did not rule out the possibility of making a change to its lineup down the road.”

The reality: As noted previously, Cook did not say that the demand percentage for the 5c was different. He said that Apple sold more 5s units than Apple had projected and, as a result, the demand percentage of the 5s and 5c was different. He didn’t say anything about whether Apple sold less or more than the 5c projections. Cook always declines to say what Apple is planning in the future, for any product. And he’d be an idiot if he ruled out making product, pricing, and strategy changes in the future. He’s not an idiot. As Cook said, “It was the first time we'd ever run that particular play before….”

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com

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