Former Apple ad man Ken Segall explains why the iPhone 5c flopped

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.