iphone 5c plastic

Ken Segall doesn’t mince words when it comes to talking about his previous employer. The former Apple ad man has a track record of calling it like he sees on his ‘Observatory’ blog, where he’s talked about everything from the iPhone’s name, to the successfulness of Samsung.

In his latest blog post, Segall attempts to explain why the iPhone 5c has been such a failure. Apple hasn’t come out and said it, obviously, but there’s been quite a bit of evidence suggesting the handset hasn’t performed as well as it hoped. And Ken has a few possible reasons why…

From Ken’s blog (via BGR):

“So what’s happened with iPhone 5c? Now that we’ve lived with it long enough, we can probably draw a few conclusions.

First, Steve Jobs was right. 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.

Was plastic a compromise on quality? Not necessarily. After all, iPhones were made of plastic before. However, as the device evolved to become more jewel-like, the plastic was left behind. So clearly a new phone made of plastic would create a marketing challenge.”

Segall goes on to note that it wasn’t even the fact that the 5c was made of plastic that did it in, but that Apple highlighted it in all of its marketing material. There was a strategic plan to head off the potential negative by boldly proclaiming it as a positive, but it looks like it kind of backfired.

“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.”

Finally Ken touches on what I believe was one of the 5c’s most fundamental flaws—its pricing. While I admit it was wrong of folks to assume the handset was going to be ‘cheap,’ it’s hard to imagine what Apple was thinking pricing the non-Touch ID 5c at just $100 less than the iPhone 5s.

Whatever the reason(s), it’s pretty clear there’s a problem. Following reports that Apple was scaling back production on the iPhone 5c, Tim Cook essentially told investors that the device was not as popular as they’d hoped for. And many pundits don’t expect it to return next year.

  • Linton Findlay

    ive seen more people with 5c’s than 5s’ though, usually thjey have the white though which defeats the point of the 5c ‘for the colourful’

    • Jonathan

      Really? It’s opposite for me. I’ve only seen 3 people total since the release with a 5c. 2 were people walking past me, another was a friend of mine. 5s? If I go out, I usually see 1 or 2 people having one every time. So adding that up, well over a hundred people.

      • Gucciipad

        99% I’ve seen is the 5s

      • Linton Findlay

        im guessing the 5s is harder to spot but i can usually tell whos got one buy the gold colour or the bigger flash, but i know loads of people with white 5c’s

      • Amr

        So pretty much what your saying is that you’ve only went out less than 100 times since the iPhone 5s/5c released lmfao. Just saying, and I’m probably less then that too lol.

      • Jonathan

        no xD
        I don’t pay attention to everyone’s phone, but when I do, I usually see 1 or 2. 😛

        btw, I’ve only left the house twice in my life.
        (plus a few thousand. :P)

    • alx

      After owning Iphons 5s since the 1st day it launched, I haven’t see friends or anyone using 5c. The only place I seen 5c is in
      shops.

    • WolfgangHoltz

      Have not seen any 5C at all except in Apple Store. Have not seen so many 5 or 5S either most is 4 and 4S and Samsung..

      • Kurt

        Same here (Korea). I never once seen a 5c. 4S was the last popular iPhone here. iPhone used to dominate but now it’s rare. I think iPhone screen size was its downfall.

      • WolfgangHoltz

        I think only a colorblind would buy a 5C. I like a more discreet color and can put on a bright color cover if I feel little crazy. And I agree the iPhone 5/5S is little to small not as a phone but as a smartphone. By the way I’m in Sweden.

      • Hej…I like your comment about the iphone being a little too small as a smartphone. It’s funny how I thought it was huge in 2007. Now it hurts my eyes to use

      • WolfgangHoltz

        It’s not because the phone it’s because of age. I quote my uncle “I bought a 60″ Samsung LED TV because I couldn’t read the text on the smaller ones” 🙂

    • Byron C Mayes

      I know a few people with 5c’s and they fall into two camps: older people who want an iPhone that will be current for a bit, but don’t need “all that high-end stuff,” and people who had no choice as in the company bought it for them. The older people usually have white or yellow(!) while those who have company phones have whatever corporate got a deal on.

      For both types, the 5c says the same thing: reliable and current, but not too flashy. The white one may even go so far as to say “no nonsense.” And 100 bucks is 100 bucks, especially if — from corporate point of view — you’re buying a bunch of them. I expect the 5c to stay around in some guise for a bit. It’s a small niche, but Apple’s filled it.

    • Andrew Roth

      Same. When I’m in school, two of my teachers have 5s’s but like 25 of my friends have 5c’s.

    • Liam Mulcahy

      Me too

    • Chaotic Buddhist

      My 5c is blue with a pink Croc case because it reminds me of the 80’s.
      My office neighbor has a green one with a blue case because Seahawks.

  • Valinor

    Its not a failure. Its doing exactly what it was meant to do: stop people from buying the similar looking iphone 5 and choosing the iphone 5s

    • Hyr3m

      Predictable irrationality (Dan Ariely). Still, they should have produced less… that’s a lot of money sleeping on their shelves.

  • pauleebe

    Apple got their initial production ratios wrong, but I don’t think it’s a flop. They didn’t honestly expect a rebundled last year device to outsell their flagship, did they?

    • Melvco

      I don’t think they expected it to outsell the iPhone 5s, but they clearly expected it to do better than it did. Tim Cook himself said they didn’t anticipate the 5c/5s mix. But is that because the 5s was so popular or the 5c was so unpopular? Good question.

      • Kurt

        I agree with you it was about pricing. It felt like a rip off getting nearly identical components and a lower quality shell for the same price had they sold the metal 5 as previous years.

  • Erny Carrillo

    I like how this guy pointed out the facts of the iphone and what they stood for when Steve Jobs was present. “Apple company doesn’t do cheap”!!!

    • Hyr3m

      Oh yes they do… It’s just that they sell their cheap stuff at outrageous prices.

      • mav3rick

        Devices build is one of the best but stripped down internals. From here comes the “cheap”, but attached to the name. How much could be to just add some more RAM? Or charging $100 for 16GB storage? And most, selling them at over 3 times the manufacture cost?!?

      • Hyr3m

        Thanks, my point exactly 😀

  • Jonathan

    Flopped. Dropped. And Burned.
    Sorry 5c.

  • At

    I bought my mom a Pink 5c, and she loves it…. But she’s never owned an iPhone before and has had the same “dumb” phone for the past 5 years.

  • Christopher

    I liked the 5C look and design, only bought 5S cause it had apples new tech in it

    Should of combined them lol

    • Hyr3m

      *Should’ve (from “should have”)

  • Schryliam

    Really?
    It doesn’t look that cheap, but the way it has been released as a cheap phone made it a failure because it did the same with all predecessors, just $100,- cheaper, that doesn’t make it cheap. Just a changed look off a older version phone.
    And it has been a failure not because of the price, but because they are ugly, they look as childish phones. Don’t they understand that after all this time?

    • Sean Clark

      Even the packaging was an absolute disaster. The 5S get’s an embossed high quality lettercard box meanwhile the 5c gets a plastic iPod container that barely fits the phone.

      • Schryliam

        Yes indeed ..

      • Bryan Gibson

        Because that’s why anyone buys a particular phone… LOL

      • Sean Clark

        I guarantee you that you have bought something because of its packaging, whether you realized it or not.

      • Bryan Gibson

        Maybe cereal…they don’t exactly put iPhones in the box out on the shelf…

      • I guess you get what you pay for. Pay little? Get little packaging.

  • smtp25

    Flop because there wasn’t a big enough price differentiator for people to get over the ‘stigma’ of the cheaper phone. And not cheap enough to be an entry level phone.

  • David Gitman

    It dropped because the 5 is better

    • Rowan09

      The 5 technically isn’t better, just the design in my opinion was better.

  • DtownBlogger

    Good Riddance!

  • Rak S

    If there was a $200 difference, it would definitely have sold. In this case, thats what made the difference. The only question in my mind is whether a $200 would have led to a canablisation of “s” sales… Maybe.

  • @dongiuj

    High price for a year old phone with a coloured plastic cover slapped on the back…..
    I think people know when they are having the P!$$ taken out of them.

  • Jeff H

    I wonder if Apple kept the iPhone 5 around and sold it for cheap, how would sales of stack up against the 5s? Probably a lot closer than they would’ve liked.

  • Rowan09

    The 5c didn’t do so well because it’s a drop technically from the 5s and it doesn’t feature touch ID. In America specifically people are still buying phones on contract so the price isn’t that big of a difference to them and overseas they will want the 5s because it’s more popular. The media didn’t help as well with the prediction of a $200-$300 phone. Price doesn’t always mean better sales, look at the Moto X and even the Nexus which isn’t that cheap. Apple does premium and if they release 2 phones this year, it will have to be one with a larger screen than the other with the same specs and features.

    • Kash Gummaraju

      Call me a troll, but the Moto X and Nexus line did very well thanks to the pricing. The Nexus line gained true momentum only last year with the nexus 7 and the nexus 4. The Moto X had enough demand that Motorola brought back the wood customization option(although the initial reason for removing it was manufacturing issues). Moto X and Nexus are very new and have begun to prove each of their companies potential and previously the Nexus line was not cheap and was seen more as a developer device. But thanks to the pricing and the performance, in the first 2 minutes when the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5 were available for purchase they were sold out. Both devices offer premium design and features, just not the type of mass appeal Apple commands. It all comes down to how long a certain type of product has been out, its reputation, and what the company that made it has demonstrated.

      • Rowan09

        The Moto X had to drop the price because it wasn’t selling good and selling out without sales figures mean nothing. There’s no sales figures for the Moto X and Nexus that I’ve ever seen. Google can price phones low because they care less about hardware and 99.9% on services. Apple on the other hand makes most of its money from hardware so they can’t compete with low prices like Google.

      • Hyr3m

        Actually, Apple makes most of its money from strings attached, which is technically done through their software. They also make (“steal”) a lot of money off of independent developers; earning it through other people’s software…
        They also attach new strings with each dollar a user spends in third party software.

      • Rowan09

        Where do you get this information? Anytime Appple announces their quarterly or yearly earnings report, it shows where and how much many they make from a specific item and they make the most from the iPhone not software. What exactly do you call strings attached? Google makes billions from developers and phone manufacturers too because you can’t have an Android without Google services. How is Apple stealing money from developers? Stealing would be taking money that’s not yours.

      • Hyr3m

        I’m not going to spell out what I mean by “strings attached”. If you know at least a tiny bit about what Apple has been doing since 2001, you’ll know what kinds of strings are attached to who as well as why and how. These (software) strings are what allow Apple to sell so many devices (hardware) so easily.
        I never said they steal money from developers, I said they “steal” money from developers.

      • Rowan09

        How is Apple’s “string attached” any different from Google or Microsoft might I ask? Stealing from developers meaning stealing money. If I provide a platform that’s the most popular and profitable, why wouldn’t I charge people to use that platform (AppStore)?

      • Hyr3m

        Does Microsoft get a 30% cut when you buy any piece of third-party software for Windows ? Why should selling third-party software for mobile operating systems be any different?
        Why should Google and Microsoft pass up on the opportunity to rip off mobile soft devs while Apple has been getting away with it for so long? When have I ever said that Google’s Play Store and Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store were any better?

        If one person does something evil, it’s bad. If everyone does it, it’s still bad even if it’s become the norm.

      • Rowan09

        Here’s the big difference. Apple makes their own charging device tech, Google and Microsoft are using an industry standard. If someone makes there own proprietary tech then they deserve a cut when others use their tech. It’s no different than someone owning a patent and charging to license the patent. Microsoft charges licensing fees for Windows is that right? Of course it is and Google kills you with ads and doesn’t give you an option to use another email client when using an Android. Your just an Apple hater man.

      • Hyr3m

        This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read all week (and I’ve been reading a lot of Christian Zibreg’s posts so that’s saying something). When you pay with a credit card the credit card company gets a cut. If you purchase “iTunes credits” (with cash) in an Apple store, Apple gets to keep the cut that normally goes to the credit card company. Nicking 10% of devs profits would already be big yet would be deemed reasonable by most, 5% would definitely be reasonable and 1-3% (depending on if it’s an indie dev or a big company, for example) would seem normal. 30% is just racket.

        Tech should not be proprietary or exclusive. (or it shouldn’t stay as such even if it starts out like this)

        I’ve made and sold plenty of software for Windows back in my day and never had to pay a dime to Microsoft. You can get into the whole “compatible with Windows 7 – sticker” thing but you don’t have to.

        I have used plenty of various email clients other than Gmail on my android phones…
        You haven’t even answered a single question from my comment…
        What’s your point ? I mean besides the fact that you’re an obvious obliviously unconditional apple fanboy…

      • Rowan09

        If your trying to make Apple seem like the only greedy company you need to start studying economics. The purpose of any business is to make money and once your publicly traded, you have an obligation to your shareholders. You don’t have to purchase anything from Apple, hey while at it don’t purchase anything from this capitalist country called America. Your comments has less to do with Apple and more to do with business practices. Should things be better sure but will they be nope and that’s why people have an option to choose someone else. You have an Android phone without Gmail or Google maps? I’m not mad at Google for their business practices or Microsoft or any other company because it’s business and it’s all about the money and nothing else.

      • Hyr3m

        1) America is a continent
        2) (quoting myself from 2 comments ago) “When have I ever said that Google’s Play Store and Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store were any better?”

        3) My comments have to to with Apple’s business practices. I thought that was obvious…
        4) I said “racket” because that’s basically what it is. Apple has a huge chunk of the mobile market and has a monopoly on the distribution of third-party apps on unjailbroken iDevices so if you’re a mobile dev you don’t have a choice if you want to pay your bills at the end of the month you have to pay the Apple protection fee (mafia-style).
        5) I’m an IT professional and an entrepreneur (as well as investor) so I keep up with Apple news because I have to. Why do you care? Would you rather I stay away from here so you can live in an unshaken dream-world?
        6) *you’re | *comments have | etc…

      • Rowan09

        America is a continent, yes I know North and South so it’s not a country now, ok. Your not mentioning Apples practices as a whole but business as a whole. Your hoping businesses should be committed to customers feelings and being nice. All businesses only cares about making profit, not one company cares more about the consumer at the expense of losing funds. Google sells data do companies and makes billions, is it right morally no, but in business morals doesn’t matter much. You never said Google and Microsoft are better but defend them by saying their following Apple. Give me some proof to backup that statement? There’s a difference with finding out information like I do on Android sites from time to time, but why post hateful comments? You have the right to do what you want but your just trolling.

      • Hyr3m

        I’m not mentioning Apple’s practices as a whole nor “business as a whole”, I was actually talking about one specific practice in the last few comments but whatever…

        Developers may be Apple customers but their business relationship with Apple is not related to them being customers. What I’m hoping is that small players in the industry get fair treatment from monopoly-holders because it’s not the case right now.

        I own Apple devices too btw. Which is how I know they’re so crappy… and why I have some interest in discussing my opinion on here. You seem pretty strong on the trolling front though as you have yet to address a single issue I’ve mentioned without changing the subject (apart from geography).

      • Rowan09

        What questions did I not answer because a lot of them were rhetorical? What do you own I want to buy it or them? Are you stating Apple is treating small developers unfair (info please)?

      • Hyr3m

        I’ll ask again just this one : Why should selling third-party software for mobile operating systems be any different (than selling third-party software for a desktop computer’s operating system)?
        Or even simpler : Why should Apple be allowed to hold a monopoly on the sale of iDevice software ? (I’ve bought plenty of Android software without going through Google, hence without giving them 30% so what you were about to say is irrelevant. And even if it weren’t, the question still stands; why should they be allowed to hold such monopolies? Does ‘murika lack antitrust laws?)

      • Rowan09

        Are you asking why when purchasing software for an iDevice do we have to go through the AppStore? If that’s your question it’s for quality control.

      • Kash Gummaraju

        Moto X unlocked price sure, but subsidized-nope. The pricing of the Nexus is enough that Google will still make profit. The most expensive part of a phone is its display and the costs less than $40. The combined cost of the 5c and the 5s’ displays is 41. In order to build the whole phone it costs under 200. 350 is the pricing that will earn a profit for Google and Apple alike. Outrageous prices such as 650 and 700 are companies’ ways to bite off more than they can chew.

      • Rowan09

        Your not understanding a basic principle Apple and Google has 2 different business models. Did you ever take a look at their earning reports? Google makes almost all it’s money over 90% from advertising and everything they sell is just a supplement to making money for advertising. Apple makes most of there money from device sales so they cannot follow the same business model. Nevertheless Apple has never been a budget company so hoping they will go that route is like saying BMWs are too expensive when I can get a Honda cheaper.

      • Kash Gummaraju

        Oh I am understanding. No company is going to build something and not make profit(exception calico). Google aims to make profit off the Nexus program and it does. An iPhone 5S costs 218 to build. A 350-400 pricing will still earn Apple a profit and attract more customers. If the goal here is to make profit then pick appropriate pricing points.

      • Rowan09

        How will it make Apple more profit when they are selling at a lower price? Why doesn’t Samsung, HTC, or LG, etc sell all their phones at this price point since it will guarantee sales? Give me some sales figures before assuming something is do great when it’s not. The price it costs Apple to build the 5s 64Gb is $218 but from an article from UBS they make a profit margin of 40-50% and that’s normal.

      • Kash Gummaraju

        Those pricings are appropriate and enough to keep Google’s stocks in the 1000s and help rebuild Motorola’s reputation. I haven’t seen Apple’s stocks rise since the iPhone 5’s announcement(when it rose to 700). Maybe Apple can attract more customers and still make a profit by placing the lowest unlocked pricing at 350 and max at 500

      • Rowan09

        You think Google’s stock price is rising from the Moto X and Nexus devices with no sales figures? Come on man at least tell the truth. Apples stock price fluctuates because investors are trying to predict if they are still a buy. If you look at the millionaire and billionaires like Icahn they are buying shares and not selling them. Stock prices are easily manipulated.

  • Abinash Shaw

    In India & other developing countries, where the iPhones are really expensive, its only the rich people who buy them. And any guy who has money will prefer the 5S over the 5C!

  • Sandy Cook

    Trying (and failing) to cater to people with enough sense not to drop ridic amounts of money on a crippled phone experience isn’t that bright of an idea when competitors do it so much better for cheaper

  • Sadat Bela

    I believe apple did make iphone 5c as a strategic way of selling more of iphone 5s. Because if iphone 5 which was already a good phone and was selling pretty good would have existed at the same time with iphone 5s then iPhone 5s wouldn’t have been that much of a new phone so by dressing iphone 5 in plastic they sort of forced those who wanted to buy iphone 5 to buy iphone 5s because who wants to pay that much money for a phone in plastic so buy charging just 100 dollars more they would get a premium device with a fingerprint sensor for me that is a win win strategy for apple.

  • mav3rick

    It did not flop, it was misunderstood…

  • Byron C Mayes

    I think if they lowered the price another $50 and ditched the colors for black/grey, white, and maybe yellow (the plastic version of gold for 5s parity), they’d have a niche-filler. A current no-nonsense phone without too much high-end flash at a reasonable price.

  • Chaotic Buddhist

    Flopped? What a hack.