The rumored iPhone 5C, with the ‘C’ standing for colors and not cheap, could be debuted on the now all but officially confirmed September 10th iPhone event. A low-cost iPhone would require Apple cut some corners. A shift from an aluminum shell to a plastic casing would offer a few advantages to Apple. For one, it’s less expensive to produce. While any low-cost iPhone would require Apple re-think the internals, going plastic seems to make sense for many reasons beyond just cost.
The iPhone 5C will represent a shift in strategy. Unless they manage to make the iPhone 5C free, it will be slotted at $99. The old strategy was to give the wireless carriers the last and even previous to last generation iPhones that could be sold at discounted prices. This worked out quite well and represents a significant share of Apple’s iPhone sales for any given quarter in recent history. Apple has yet to leverage the power of their retail operations to sell low-cost product. Not only do they not have any shelf space at Apple stores, Apple doesn’t advertise them. Sure you’ll see some level of carrier advertising, but it’s not the massive marketing push associated with a new product. The iPhone 5C might end being a repackaging of older processors, internals, but to consumers it will a new iPhone. There’s value in that.
Colors. An array of brightly colored iPhones will look great on store shelves. Motorola is onto something with their Moto X Maker, where consumers can design their own phone. Go into any wireless carrier and for the most part you’ll see a sea of white, black and silver phones. Manufacturers have used color to get a slight bump in sales on older hardware. Your phone is an extension of your personality. For this reason, I suspect you’ll find some people who actually opt for the iPhone 5C purely based on the color of the phone. Specs be damned, give me that green iPhone.
As for specs, we as bloggers and enthusiasts continue to wish for more megapixels, better optics, faster processors and the like. The average consumer might not find all this necessary. Regardless of your demographic, purchasing a phone is about experience. The iPad mini is made up of spare iPad 2 parts. For consumers, they don’t care about A5 or A6 processors. They want a great experience. I suspect Apple’s iPhone 5C (or whatever they end up calling it), will meet those needs and then some.
For value-conscious buyers, Apple’s offerings have been stellar. The iPhone 4s is an incredible value at $99, but it isn’t new. There is a perceived value in new. By adding colors, the iPhone 5C becomes a marketing exercise, one that I expect to be incredibly successful for Apple. With the backing of a full ad campaign and valuable Apple Store retail presence, there has never been a bigger push to consumers who frankly don’t need the latest processor, optics or fancy aluminum. Apple doesn’t do cheap. Instead they’ll deliver a low-cost iPhone that meets the needs of the fat-middle. Capable, colorful and a big hit.
Image credit: SonnyDickson