2The 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.
3It’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?
4Consumers 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?
5It’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.
6Consumers 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.
7Budget 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.
8iPhone 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.
9Same 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.
10It’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.
11The 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.