iPhone Cases May Be Partly Responsible For Poor 5c Sales [Analyst]

iphone5c

Are people not buying the iPhone 5c because its colorful exterior selling point is rendered useless by the fact that most people keep their iPhones in cases?

That’s one of two theories put forward by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who is the latest person to suggest that the iPhone 5c isn’t doing too well in the marketplace.

According to 1,003 consumers polled last week by Munster, just 6% of smartphone buyers plan to pick up an iPhone 5c — down from 9% in December.

Munster puts forward the following reasons:

“First, we believe there is a significant value increase in purchasing the 5s (Touch ID, A7 chip) vs the 5c and consumers recognize this as well,” he said. “Second, we believe that the concept around colors as a unique selling point has not worked as well as it had with iPods because a significant number of smartphone users cover their smartphones with cases, which was typically not the trend for iPod owners.”

But if the iPhone 5c is doing badly, the 5s is doing much better. According to the same survey, 33% of those individuals who plan to buy a smartphone expect to pick up an iPhone 5s. This percentage is down from the the 35% who had their eyes on a 5s in December, and the 38% who planned to get the new model after its debut in September.

“The main takeaway from our most recent smartphone purchase intent survey is that the iPhone 5s seems to have staying power,” Munster said. “We believe this is an indication that Apple’s position as top player in the high end smartphone market remains secure; however, the downside is that the US smartphone market is rather mature, which is implied in Apple’s guidance.”

Overall, 39% of smartphone shoppers said they planned to purchase some model of iPhone in general, compared with 44% in December, and 50% in September.

Munster predicts that Apple will sell 37.5 million iPhones during the current quarter — a shade more than the 37.4 million sold over the same quarter last year.

  • subbaz1111

    No… why would you buy a 5c when you can spend $130 more on the latest greatest phone. 5c is just too expensive for what it is… if they had a “proper cheaper” phone, people would buy it…

  • http://twitter.com/gettysburg11s gettysburg11s

    This is not a surprise. I initially bought a 5c, and sold it after a month. The 5s specs were just too compelling. So, I now have a 5s in Space Grey. Its much faster (and future proof with 64-bit), and the camera is actually a little better than the 5c/5. As far as the finger print reader, its ok, but doesn’t do much yet. Time will tell on that front.

  • aardman

    The 5c is just not a good value compared to the 5s. It might not make sense to lower the price though. If there’s really an untapped market out there for colorful iPhones, Apple should just offer the 5s in more colors.

  • ChanceDM

    I have a blue iPhone 5c. I don’t even like cases, but I bought one for protection. I just bought a clear one though.

  • Luke Dormehl

    I’m pretty much in agreement with all of you. Apple’s kind of in a Catch-22 when it comes to the iPhone 5c. Either they make a phone that is high-end and have people skip it in favor of the superior 5s since there’s not that much money separating the two — or else they make a genuine low-end phone and lose not just the brand equity that comes with Apple as it currently is, but also risk losing out on the “value added” that comes from higher end consumers happy to shell out for IAPs and, hopefully, other Apple products. But there was an interesting tidbit I wrote about a few months ago, suggesting that the 5c was an entry level iPhone for a lot of people, with most 5s users having previously owned iPhones, compared to 5c users who were overwhelmingly new to Apple. Depending on how the production costs stack up against the diminished demand, that alone could be a good reason to keep making “c” model iPhones.

  • dcj001

    “First, we believe there is a significant value increase in purchasing the 5d”

    5d? Where can I get a 5d?

  • Parkerpinion

    “C” was marketed as “Made for China Cheap”. So who outside would want one? This and Mavericks have not made for a good Apple 2013.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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