Why The iPhone 5c Flopped

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Apple won’t come right out and say so, but the iPhone 5c is a (comparative) dud. But why? Legendarly Apple ad man Ken Segall has his theories, and it all comes down to the fact that with the iPhone 5c, Apple violated Steve Jobs’ prime directive: Apple doesn’t do cheap.

On his blog, Segall says: “Clearly plastic was a big part of the iPhone 5c strategy,” Segall writes. “The launch ad was entitled Plastic Perfected. The launch video featured Jony Ive explaining that iPhone 5c was ‘unapologetically plastic.’ There was a strategic plan to head off the potential negative by boldly proclaiming it as a positive… Unfortunately for Apple, creativity can be a double-edged sword. The ‘unapologetically plastic’ line in the product video was so interesting and memorable, it got played back over and over in articles about the lackluster demand for iPhone 5c. Not exactly what Apple intended.”

According to Segall, the fact that the iPhone 5c was “unapolgetically plastic” yet only $100 less on contract — a pittance, really — than the iPhone 5s probably hurt sales. He thinks Apple should take the iPhone 5c’s failure as a sign that Apple shouldn’t bother making smartphones that are anything less than premium.

“Steve Jobs was right,” he explains. “Apple is a company that doesn’t do ‘cheap.’ It makes products for people who care about design, simplicity, quality and a great experience — and are willing to pay more for these things. For Apple to compromise in any of these areas would be a violation of the Prime Directive.”

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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