As I write this, the ultra-new iPhone 5c has just become available to pre-order from the Apple Store, as well as from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
So I figured it was a good time to address the problem(s) a lot of people seem to have with Apple’s new polycarbonate plastic-bodied iPhone, and explain -- in simple terms -- why the haters are way off the mark, and why the 5c is actually a great device, and a clever move for Apple.
The biggest problem the 5c has is people think it’s something it isn’t. Before the phone was officially announced, there were rumors, information leaks and photos of the device all over the internet. Everyone knew what was coming. Apple was announcing a low-cost plastic bodied iPhone -- a device aimed at emerging markets and first time smartphone buyers. A device the masses could afford. An iPhone for everyone. The C in 5c stood for cheap.
Which was wrong, wrong and wrong. The C, if it truly stands for anything, stands for colorful. The hard-coated plastic body can be produced in bright colors. That’s primarily why it’s been used, not simply to reduce costs.
So when Apple announced the price of the new device -- from $99 for the 16GB model on a two year contract, or $549, unlocked and contract free -- people were shocked and up in arms. Apple shares dropped accordingly. The cheap iPhone wasn’t cheap enough.
But cheap enough for who? It’s certainly plenty cheap enough for Apple.
After all, since when does Apple do low cost anyway? The company makes premium products which it sells at a premium price that people for the most part are willing to pay. It’s a massively successful strategy -- why jeopardize that by wading into the low end of the market in the quest for a few more dollars which, frankly, it doesn’t really need, and eroding its own profit margins in the process? The iPhone 5 is a quality device, and switching to a polycarbonate plastic enclosure isn’t going to suddenly shave an absolute fortune off its price, and why would it?
Personally I think the pricing is spot on. The device is more affordable that the 5s, so it will appeal to people who can’t justify shelling out the extra for the flagship version, but it also leaves room for Apple to adjust the RRP downwards if it needs to get buyers at home or in developing markets more interested. It’s much easier to lower the price of something when you need to drive sales, than raise the price of something in the quest for higher margins.
And let’s not forget an important detail. Everyone who is complaining about the price of the 5c, calling it a fail, or dumping stock because the device is not low-cost enough, is -- to put it bluntly -- an idiot. No one at the Cupertino, Calif.-based Corporation ever said it was making a budget iPhone. The media planted and watered that seed. Apple just introduced the device it was always going to introduce. The fact it wasn’t the cheap iPhone the media said it would be, is hardly Apple’s fault now is it?
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Let’s talk about that new case. Sure Apple isn’t the first company to make a phone available in bright colors -- the 5c has already been dubbed the iLumia by many -- but it’s an obvious move.
It’s partially a nod to the firm’s past, to the colorful iMacs of the late 1990s which helped save Apple, and the colorful iPods which followed. But it’s also a device which complements the colors and styling of iOS 7. I haven’t had the chance to see an iPhone 5c up close yet, but from the images I’ve studied I know how enticing a colorful iPhone rocking a colorful OS is going to look in an Apple Store.
The iPhone 5c and iOS 7 are designed to go hand in hand, with wallpaper to match the body color. If Jony Ive had decided to make iOS 7 all dark and moody I very much doubt Apple would have brought out the 5c.
To understand the iPhone 5c properly, you need to banish any preconceptions you might have of it. The 5c is NOT intended as a budget phone, and never was. It is not cheap alternative to the iPhone 5s for developing markets, nor is it simply last year’s iPhone 5 in a plastic body.
It’s a new Apple iPhone in a range of striking colors priced exactly right. Buy it, or don’t buy it, but don't have a go at it for being something it isn’t and never was.