How Apple Flopped with The iPhone 5c
The iPhone 5c was one of Apple's greatest product blunders since they launched the Apple Newton. Ok that’s a stretch HA!
Back in 2013, the iPhone 5 series was unveiled by Tim Cook. Apple decided to target a new customer base of people who couldn’t afford an iPhone before and Apple saw this as an opportunity to provide them with that experience.
What they launched in the market was a cheap, plastic iPhone which lacked the allure of an Apple product. The sleek design, premium materials, and luxury look the world has known of Apple was not on this phone.
The core of this strategy was to get an iPhone to as many people as they could. Once they got them with an iPhone, Apple could get them in their ecosystem with other products and software.
Apple’s phones are not cheap and not everyone can afford to pay a premium for them. Having an iPhone is seen as a status symbol. Owning one makes you feel like you're part of an exclusive club.
The 5c “experiment” was launched in the market and failed horribly to impress. Apple’s sales for the phone dropped drastically and it had to be sold by Apple by giving away lucrative offers and low EMI's just to increase its sales.
As the 5c was getting beaten in the market, it’s counterpart phone, the iPhone 5s was a success.
Where did Apple go wrong?
Contradicting: Apple contradicted everything that has made them a successful. “Apple doesn’t do cheap.” That was the standard set by Steve Jobs. Apple devices have a higher price tag, what they offer is top notch hardware, excellent technology, solid design, and a premium feel to its devices. The iPhone 5c was made of plastic, it came in different colours; and it lacked the premium DNA feel to it. It didn’t look or feel like an “Apple product.”
Value for Money: The iPhone 5c was launched in the US for $99 for the 16GB version. The iPhone 5s was launched in the US for $199 for the 16GB. The cheaper version of the iPhone wasn’t cheap after all, and was cheap in the quality of the phone rather than the price. You were far better off buying the iPhone 5s as it reflected what consumers have come to know of what a phone by Apple is.
Features: The iPhone 5s was launched with great features that the 5c severely lacked. The 5s came with biometrics that allowed users to unlock their phones with the fingers and high grade security features. The 5c lacked this with its plastic body and lacklustre feel.
The iPhone 5c was discontinued in 2015, just 2 years after the launch. Its models had to be sold off by offering low prices and lucrative bundled deals. The iPhone 5c remains a failure, and a disastrous flop by Apple.
Takeaway: It’s enticing to serve a broader market once you’ve established your position with your core customer. Apple is an iconic brand that was built by creating great products for their customers. If Apple can lose customers by doing what they do great at, it can happen to you as well with your customer base. Once you do what’s out of your company’s DNA, you lose your customer’s trust and vision.