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THE colourful, plastic-backed, iPhone 5c hasn’t exactly rocked consumers’ worlds since it was released last year and a former Apple advertising executive reveals why. It was the fun, funky, budget-conscious handset for those looking to get on the Apple ladder and stand out from the crowd with gaudy neon hues. But most of all it was for Apple to target a new market.|
t certainly has added some colour to the Apple stores, but for execs at the company it has left them a bit red-faced after an underwhelming reception and poor sales figures. So why did it go wrong? After all it’s not like the mighty Apple to stuff up.
According to a former Apple advertising executive, Ken Segall, it was because Apple “doesn’t do cheap” and its customers have no desire or use for them. Although we might point out he’s referring to its materials as calling a phone that costs from $739 (handset only from Apple) cheap is an interesting choice of words.
[Apple] 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.”
He goes on to say the advertising campaign around the iPhone 5c focused too heavily on the word “plastic”, trying as much as it could to turn negative connotations with plastic on its head. Designer Jony Ive even described the phone in the ad as “unapologetically plastic”.
“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 lacklustre demand for iPhone 5c. Not exactly what Apple intended.”
Considering rival Samsung Galaxy smartphones had been criticised for being too plasticky and not having that premium build to compete with the iPhone, this was a risky move.
Should a luxury car manufacturer or clothing label release budget-friendly, come-all, versions of its wares it would have a negative repercussion for its loyal customer base too. Cheap is not why people flock to the slick, glass and aluminium Apple stores.
But being plastic is only part of the story. Despite flaunting itself as a more wallet-friendly phone, its price starts at $739, only $130 less than the flagship, better equipped 5s (16GB) — not exactly an impulse purchase price or enough to stop you just handing over that little bit extra to get the best.
While Apple doesn’t break down sales of individual iPhone models, at a quarterly earnings announcement last month Apple CEO Tim Cook did admit “demand percentage turned out to be different than we thought” and has resulted in the company reducing its 5c manufacturing orders despite posting overall record revenue last quarter.
The iPhone 5c is by no means a poor phone. Had a competitor brought it to market, it would surely be hailed BUT only if it was priced correctly. Loyal Apple fans buy for performance and premium, so it wouldn’t convert those, but the 5c could have been a great entry model for kids or low income demographics.
Its days might be numbered and no doubt we’ll learn about its fate at the next big Apple announcement that comes this year.