The iPhone 5C: the “C” Stands for “Cheap”

Samantha Mathewson

iPhone is an iconic smartphone, but they have gone crazy. They constantly produce new generations of their phones, which customers can hardly wait to have, but can barely afford. To follow their pattern of introducing a new iPhone soon after the last, Apple has introduced two more versions before people could even save enough for the last version released.

The 5C is still expensive, but this time made with cheaper materials that aren’t receiving the expected appraisal. After only a month, production is being cut from 300,000 a day, to 150,000, and it can’t compare to sales of its counterpart; the 5S.

According to CNN, at an iPhone press event before the release of the new iPhones last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Business has become so large, that this year we are going to replace the iPhone 5 and we’re going to replace it with not one, but two new designs. This allows us to serve even more customers.”

Contradicting the business’ new strategy, the 5C is resistant to the hoped success, and barely selling to any customers at all, while the 5S is outselling it with its more traditional features. The 5C introduced a new style with a simpler, cheaper, more colorful plastic body, however it doesn’t support features that have been significantly upgraded from the iPhone 5.

The 5C starts at $99 with a mobile data plan, however because it looks cheaper, and the price differentiation from the 5S is too little, it isn’t worth the price. The cost will have to be even cheaper to appeal to buyers, who are more attracted to the 5S’ updated features.

“Apple needs new customers to keep growing, and the 5C was supposed to appeal to a new, more price-conscious consumer,” said Forrester Analyst Researcher, Sarah Rotman Epps, according to CNN.

Apple’s plan of a cheaper iPhone targeted for countries such as China, where it could result in a surge of sales, or what analysts call “aspirational consumers,” while their profit growth has slowed, backfired. Now Apple has experienced something that is new to them; their lines aren’t out the door and sales have decreased. In China, mobile carriers don’t subsidize phones, so the 5C sells for $560, only $100 less than the 5S; which offers more to the user. If the price differentiation were greater between the two, Apple would see less low-cost competition.

Retailers responded to the lack of sales by reducing the prices of the 5C. This month, Best Buy ran a promotion offering it for $50, Walmart has discounted it to $45 through the holidays, and Radio Shack is giving customers a $50 gift card with their purchases until early November.

On June 29, 2007 the original iPhone was released. In about six years there has been seven new generations. The iPhone 5 was released earlier this year, and already in its place is the 5S and 5C. Apple expects users to upgrade to the newest versions immediately, even though a better version will be made before they can even open the box of the last.

Cell phone companies generally have two-year contracts; it is only after those two years that customers get a discount, or sometimes a free upgrade. Apple expects customers to constantly spend hundreds of dollars on new products, which are respectively more expensive than the previous versions, while nothing is wrong with their current, fully functioning one that has a life expectancy which outlives the time between new versions created.

Apple is demanding too much from their devoted audience while trying to weasel money out of them by cutting corners in production materials, and instead making the phones prettier to make up for the features they lack. The 5C is cheaper, yes, but for a reason. The phone is simply built cheaper, but not sold for much cheaper, that doesn’t really add up does it? The iPhone 5C is made with a plastic casing, while the iPhone 5S is made of aluminum and it includes a faster processor and a fingerprint sensor for security – no wonder it is selling more.

It is possible that a failure wouldn’t have been experienced had the different versions come out separately. The 5C’s cheaper exterior is too different to be compared to the 5S’ traditional one. Had it been introduced on its own, later down the road, it might have been received as an intriguing new version.

The only thing Apple is doing right by creating the cheaper 5C is matching its life expectancy with the time period they allow between new versions, so now maybe users can keep up with the new trends, even though their wallets can’t.