Over the weekend, photos appeared on WeiPhone.com that show a box of boxes. These boxes were special, as they were purported to be the packaging for the iPhone 5c, a yet unannounced new iPhone. There has been a good amount of speculation as to the authenticity of the boxes. Even if they are thirty good fakes, this product name could be real. Naming it the iPhone 5c would be an awful mistake that would trump even the ill formed space that resided between the G and S on the iPhone 3GS.

iPhone 5C packaging

Each year, Apple launches one new iPhone. There is one flagship device, with prices starting at $199.99 on a new 2-year contract. It’s their best iPhone for usually for a year or more until the next new iPhone. That’s coming this fall, likely in the form of the iPhone 5S. Faster, better. People will complain about it being a “S” year, but there will be lines around Apple Stores on launch day.

Not everyone has $200 for a new iPhone, so Apple has had to find a way to capture these customers.Their solution has been to sell older generation models at a reduced price. When the iPhone 5 came out, the iPhone 4S became $100 cheaper, priced at a more affordable $99. The iPhone 4 could be had for free. Wander into an Apple Store and you won’t find either on the shelves. If you want discounts associated with older models, you need to visit your wireless carrier. This is missed opportunity, one that could be solved by Apple releasing a new low-cost iPhone. It’s just one reason why the rumored low-cost iPhone makes sense.

If we circle back to the iPhone 5c, this sounds like a logical naming convention. If ‘s’ stands for speed (along with other improvements), than ‘c’ would likely stand for color. The new low-cost iPhone is said to be coming in an assortment of colors. They achieve lower production costs by using plastic. This won’t matter. Like the iPad mini, specs can at times take a backseat to something that looks good or feels great in the hand. It will perform up to Apple’s standards, but maybe it doesn’t have the fastest processor or best optics. Doesn’t matter, because look at that pink iPhone. It won’t hurt that a palette of iPhone 5c colors could match what we’ve seen on iOS 7. Bright, young and fun – similar to the iPod touch 5th generation. All this for $99 (and in some places free).

iPod touch colors

The trouble here is that the ‘c’ could be perceived by some as meaning ‘cheap’. Apple would never call it cheap, but they would certainly mention the price. If it comes in at a sub-$100 pricing, that is cheap. How long before some lazy primetime news anchor calls it the iPhone 5c, with the c standing for “Cheap”. While not intended, it’s too easy of an association. Even without the ‘c’, it’s easy enough to use the word cheap when referring to a product that is low-cost.

Apple has resisted the low-end for far too long. If a new low-cost iPhone comes out this fall, I have little doubt it would be a very capable smartphone. Adding colors is a marketing ploy that works and will work again with Apple’s masterful advertising. Lower cost doesn’t mean cheap. Apple’s brand is one that is associated uncompromising product quality. The iPhone 5C will be in keeping with the companies insistence on delivering great products. It also represents their first real foray into building a new low-cost iPhone. Saddling with a ‘c’ is asking for people to call it cheap which would be bad for the phone, bad for the brand and bad for Apple.