RIP, iPhone 5c: You’re A Flop [Chart]

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 10.26.01 AM

If you love the iPhone 5c, here’s a painful chart, courtesy of analytics plaform 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.

iPhone 5c sales have no gone as expected for Apple. Although many expected Apple to unveil a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets alongside the iPhone 5s, what Apple instead did was release a mid-range phone that was nothing but the iPhone 5 in a plastic shell: cheaper for Apple to manufacture, but not a device mid-range customers were necessarily clamoring for.

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?

  • http://sopapoproductions.com originalp

    I INSIST…
    The thing is that the iPhone 5c should have been called iPhone Lite (or whatever) and actually have the iPhone 4S (NOT iPhone 5) internals, the iPhone 5s bigger screen but the colorful plastic exterior as is.
    So they put the bigger screen on iPhone 4S but still keep production cheap by using the plastic body. Also, this would have helped making the 4″ screen the standard sooner instead of keeping the iPhone 4S (and even iPhone 4) with a 3,5″ screen still around when they will possibly soon release and even bigger screen and there will be “fragmentation” for developers on the iOS ecosystem with now THREE iPhone screen sizes, iPads, and possible iTV and iWatch.

    The bottom line just to recap: The iPhone 5c should have been the “iPhone Lite”. With iPhone 4S internals, a 4″ inch screen and plastic body. And surely it still could have been sold for $450 ($100 less).
    Of course, the final line-up would have been: iPhone Lite, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S.

    • abc905

      so a iPod Touch that can make calls? agree…

  • digitaldumdum

    “RIP, iPhone 5c: You’re A Flop”

    Wow, nice way to couch the opinion. Could you have been more disrespectful to the company that provides you employment, albeit indirectly?

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      A flop is a flop, be it from your employer or not… respect has nothing to do with the fact that Apple effed up.

      • digitaldumdum

        Obi, would that you possessed a smidgeon of the wisdom of your fictitious namesake. The 5C is NOT a flop, except as pronounced so by the noted Apple detractor, John Brownlee. The numbers simply do not support his claim. If you ask any •respected• source, or check any reliable indicator, you’ll find that aside fem not selling as many of the units as Apple hoped, the 5C is anything but a flop.

      • John Gervais

        Not selling as many units as a company presumed=a flop. I’m not sure if you’ve actually looked at the numbers, but they are SIGNIFICANTLY below what Apple expected. (They usually underestimate as well if you look at older charts.) Also, your criticism of Obi’s name is incredibly hypocritical, DigitalDumbDumb.

      • digitaldumdum

        Thanks for the reply, John, but you’re a little quick to criticize me. First, not selling as many units as a company presumed, as you flippantly put it, does NOT equal a flop. That silly remark does not agree with any reasonable business calculation. Very often, companies sell less of a product than they hope for, or more likely, than they publish at the time of release. This hardly means the product is not successful in other ways. In fact, the iPhone 5C (which should have been called iPhone Light), introduced the brand to more people than would ordinarily be able to afford it. Yes, I have most certainly examined the numbers, and it appears you have pulled your conclusion out of your posterior.

        Second, although your intentional misspelling of my screen name allows you to make a snide remark about my level of understanding, let me correct you: Dumdum does not refer to “dumb.” Judging from your photo, I suspect your age prevents you from knowing why I choose that part of my name.

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/vzepr1xp/index.html unsean

    I am not sure that I am getting this. The iPhone 5c may be selling less than the 5s, but that’s not to imply that it isn’t selling. I see them quite often in the wild, and as someone else posted, there are phone makers that would kill for six percent of the market.

    I suspect that the title of John Brownlee article is little more than hyperbole. It should have been better phrased as ‘iPhone 5s Outsells 5c By A Wide Margin.’

    It’s less dramatic, but more accurate.

  • http://tech4idiots.org/ Tech84

    I never really understood the 5c, it was supposed to be the cheaper counterpart of the iPhone 5s, yet the price range was not exactly on the “cheap”

  • http://www.nextsmartphone.gr/ panosha
  • Jason Kovalik

    When the 6 comes out, the 5c will replace the 4s, as the “free option, and it will be positioned right where Apple wanted it… It just took a product cycle to get there’s….

  • Dirque Leyr

    If you feel the 5c was a flop, i would like to point you to the marketing anecdote about the first bread machines. When you come back, let me point out that Apple just convinced you to pay $100 more for the newest version of the iPhone via the “successful” Iphone 5c.

  • RoboBonobo

    It would help make your case if you had other stats to compare it with — how many iPhone4S did Apple sell in the 5 months following the iPhone5 release?
    How well will it be selling a year from now when it’s the cheapest option?
    How many people didn’t want a plastic iPhone5 and so they spent an extra $100 on an iPhone5S, in other words giving Apple significantly more money than they would have?

    • guille

      With regard to your first point – EXACTLY. The 5c has been the most successful 2nd-tier phone Apple has sold to date (and it’s been selling $100 phones for a while by reducing prices on older models).
      We aren’t alone in this thinking either: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2425837,00.asp

  • spoodermain

    Its weird,the 5c is the same as the 5,maybe consumers didnt or wanted a plastic iphone,might be a flop

  • Steve Basile

    What seems obvious is that your chart sucks. Consider color contrast much? Labeling the lines? Scale? How about diamonds or triangles or squares on your lines? Tufte hates you.

  • CaptainSmokeblower

    As I recall there was a clamor among business pundits for a cheaper iPhone since the first one came out. Each iteration of new iPhone was criticized for being too expensive; hence a cheaper iPhone was “necessary” and would be a “big seller.” Assuming I’m reading the chart correctly, 6.3 percent doesn’t qualify as being as necessary as pundits believed.
    It always amazes me how many people think they can do Apple’s business better than Apple can, until Apple follows their advice, but I agree, it’s Apple’s fault for following that advice.

  • http://about.me/clintongoveas Clinton Goveas

    I checked the original source, Apple Insider report. All figures are in % which can be misleading. It would be great to see a chart in absolute numbers. Trends amongst color options in the 5C would also be interesting.

  • Tim Galloway

    It’s the second best selling phone in the world. Not a flop

  • Ian Berg

    Maybe Apple will price remaining iPhone 5c handsets at $349 or less later this year just to clear their inventory?

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 wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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