Apple Should Discontinue the iPhone 5C: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-03-19 Print this article Print

Apple on March 18 made the long-rumored decision to launch a cheaper iPhone 5C. The device comes with 8GB of storage and is somewhat cheaper than the 16GB version that Apple has already been offering priced at $549. If the device were available in the U.S. as of this writing, which it is not, the model would likely cost somewhere around $500 without a two-year contract, making it somewhat expensive for people in markets around the globe who might not get special subsidization. Still, the new iPhone 5C launch is about more than just saving people some cash. Apple has, for the last several months, been tiptoeing around a very real issue. The iPhone 5C has not been as popular as the company had expected. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would only approve the introduction of a cheaper 5C if he thought the company needed a change. It might be a better decision to discontinue this low-end model and move on. But historically, Apple has been loath to discontinue models early, for fear of losing face in the market. Sometimes, however, sensible business decisions need to take precedence. Discontinuing the iPhone 5C appears to be the best decision Apple could make right now.

  • Apple Should Discontinue the iPhone 5C: 10 Reasons Why

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - Apple Should Discontinue the iPhone 5C: 10 Reasons Why
  • The iPhone 5C Isn't Succeeding in the U.S.

    Apple's iPhone 5C has proved somewhat unpopular in the U.S. Apple doesn't release its sales data, of course, but Tim Cook acknowledged last month that the "ratio" between iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C sales wasn't what the company had expected and that his company had moved to producing more iPhone 5S units. If it's not succeeding in the U.S.—Apple's most important market—the iPhone 5C should be discontinued.
    2 - The iPhone 5C Isn't Succeeding in the U.S.
  • It's a Loser in China

    Data released recently by a China-based analytics firm revealed that sales of the iPhone 5C have plateaued in China. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S have continued to sell surprisingly well. China is absolutely critical to the iPhone 5C's success. And if it's already losing that market, why continue producing the handset?
    3 - It's a Loser in China
  • Consumers Can Get More for the Same Price Elsewhere

    Looking around the marketplace, it's not hard to find devices that can give a similar experience for a better price. Samsung's Galaxy line, for example, is filled with handsets that can match or beat the iPhone 5C at a better price. Nokia's Lumia flagships might also beat out the iPhone 5C, as would the HTC One. If there are other, more-compelling products elsewhere, why jump at the chance to buy the iPhone 5C?
    4 - Consumers Can Get More for the Same Price Elsewhere
  • It's Not Really Cheap

    The iPhone 5C isn't exactly a bargain. The device's pricing with a two-year agreement starts at $99, but runs up to $199 for a 32GB model. Those who want to buy the handset off-contract, which is the majority of people buying devices internationally, are paying $549. The new 8GB model would go for about $499, if it were made available in the U.S.—something Apple so far has not done. That's not exactly a bargain for a device aimed at budget-conscious shoppers.
    5 - It's Not Really Cheap
  • Consumers Want High-End Products

    Just about every study on the smartphone market has shown one undeniable reality: Consumers and enterprise customers are buying higher-end devices far more regularly than lower-end models. That's the case with Apple, Samsung, Motorola, HTC and even Nokia. Sony showed off at Mobile World Congress last month a flagship handset to save its mobile business. It seems Apple would be smart to stick with higher-end products at this point.
    6 - Consumers Want High-End Products
  • Budget Shoppers Are Going Free

    There's a contingent of shoppers out there who want to get into the smartphone market but don't want to pay high-end, flagship prices. So, rather than spend money, they decide to get into two-year agreements with carriers and get products, like the iPhone 4S, for free. In fact, several studies from research firms suggest that the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S are central to Apple's mobile success right now.
    7 - Budget Shoppers Are Going Free
  • iPhone 5 Owners Have No Reason to Upgrade

    Looking at the iPhone 5 compared with the iPhone 5C, there's really no compelling reason for users to upgrade. The iPhone 5C is essentially an iPhone 5 with a bit more power and some additional colors. And those who own a 64GB iPhone 5 have absolutely no reason to get an iPhone 5C, since that option tops out at 32GB. If Apple can't get iPhone 5 owners to upgrade to the iPhone 5C, it makes it a harder sell to ostensibly captive consumers. It's an issue.
    8 - iPhone 5 Owners Have No Reason to Upgrade
  • Same Price for a Better Phone?

    Here's an interesting thought: Why not buy the iPhone 5S 16GB option for $199 rather than the 32GB iPhone 5C? After all, the iPhone 5S has better features, like the TouchID fingerprint sensor, and is running the same operating system as the iPhone 5C. The only differences are the additional storage and color options in Apple's lower-end model, but if those aren't issues, go with the iPhone 5S. It's a better product. And you can bet at least some Apple consumers have already come to that realization by analyzing the devices in that way.
    9 - Same Price for a Better Phone?
  • It's Too Costly for Emerging Markets

    Unfortunately, many emerging markets around the world don't have carriers that offer subsidized pricing. In some cases, governments ban them, and in other cases, carriers aren't offering them. Whatever the case, Apple's iPhone 5C becomes prohibitively expensive in many emerging markets because it doesn't come with a subsidy. That has caused disappointing iPhone 5C sales worldwide, analysts believe.
    10 - It's Too Costly for Emerging Markets
  • The Wrong Year

    Perhaps the iPhone 5C got off to a rough start and is still struggling because it was launched in the wrong year. As noted, there aren't enough differences between the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S to make people on a budget want to go with the cheaper option. The product also isn't different enough from the iPhone 5 to justify switching from earlier iPhone models. If Apple had launched the iPhone 5C in 2014 as a stand-alone, cheaper alternative to the iPhone 6, which is expected to have several major improvements over the iPhone 5S, it might have done better. Timing is everything in the mobile space. And when it came to the iPhone 5C, Apple's timing was awful.
    11 - The Wrong Year

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