The iPhone 5c isn’t a failure by any means, but even so, it’s not selling as well as most people would have expected, with sales of the iPhone 5s believed to outpace its plastic midrange sibling by as much as three to one. And while it’s true that the iPhone 5c is still selling well enough to make it the second- or third-best-selling smartphone at every carrier, it’s still a middling success compared to the iPhone 5s.
Yet maybe that’s what Apple wants. In fact, maybe Apple realized that by selling the previous year’s phone for $100 less, they were cutting into their own margins by selling what was, in design, a luxury phone at a mid-tier cost. If so, the iPhone 5c is working exactly as designed.
According to a new report from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), “the iPhone 5c is grabbing less share of the iPhone market than Apple’s iPhone 4s did a year ago when it was the midrange option” while “the iPhone 5s, by contrast, has grabbed a larger share of the market than the iPhone 5 did in its first full quarter on the market.”
What this means is that the iPhone 5c isn’t as popular among consumers as the iPhone 4s a year ago, but it has buoyed the popularity of the iPhone 5s. It’s a win-win situation for Apple, in that the iPhone 5c costs around $30 less to make than the iPhone 5 did because of its plastic body, maximizing margins on the year-old phone. But if someone decides they don’t want a plastic iPhone? They get driven right into the arms of the iPhone 5s.
Come the earnings call at the end of the month, we should have a better picture of how the iPhone 5c is selling. But it doesn’t look like it was a failure for Apple by any means.