Former Apple Employee Ken Segall says 5C was wrong

the8thark

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Apr 18, 2011
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http://www.couriermail.com.au/technology/smartphones/why-the-iphone-5c-is-a-failure-exapple-executive-explains-how-it-went-wrong/story-fniho4d0-1226832833869
HE 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.

It 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.

On his blog, Segall wrote:

“[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.
His blog
http://kensegall.com/2014/02/apples-adventures-in-plastic/
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2013
1,492
361
Oregon, USA
The messaging was fine. The premise was all wrong. The goal was to offer a lower cost device, but it had all the same hardware inside, so it wasn't substantively cheaper to make, so the price didn't change much. But the one change was the case, which didn't save much in manufacturing but did reduce its social value (my phone is better than your phone).

The other way around would have worked (fewer features with the same look), as would smaller/cheaper/cuter. Hopefully they see this now.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
The 5C would have probably sold more if it had actually been cheap enough to warrant it. For the price, consumers may as well have stretched the extra £100 for the 5S. Especially if they were getting a subsidized contract which would have probably worked out at only an extra £2 or so a month.

In short, the price was too high.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
20,661
22,369
The 5C would have probably sold more if it had actually been cheap enough to warrant it. For the price, consumers may as well have stretched the extra £100 for the 5S. Especially if they were getting a subsidized contract which would have probably worked out at only an extra £2 or so a month.

In short, the price was too high.
But if Apple had kept the 5 would people have complained the price was too high? The technology is the same as the 5C. Seems to me the biggest problem with the 5C was the months of speculation that the "C" stood for cheap (because Wall Street is obsessed with market share at any cost). Heck Gene Munster was speculating on all the ways Apple might gimp the phone to make it cheap.

Maybe what we get from the 5C is analysts finally getting the message that Apple won't do cheap, and Apple getting the message that their customers prefer metal to plastic. I still think the 5C will stick around (with new colors) as the base level iPhone.
 

cambookpro

macrumors 603
Feb 3, 2010
6,402
1,841
United Kingdom
I, personally, think Apple should've actually tried to make a mid-range handset. A5 processor, 5mp camera, VGA front camera, plastic etc.

Sure, the 5c is a great phone, but it wasn't cheap enough to warrant purchasing it over the 5s, and it was too 'good' to compete with lower end handsets. It was a phone created for and marketed at... almost nobody.

If it had been free on contract, I'm sure a lot more people would've snapped it up.
 

G4er?

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2009
625
21
Temple, TX
“[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.”
That's why the put the card reader slot on the back of the mini. It's simpler and a great experience to fumble for things.
 

plinden

macrumors 68040
Apr 8, 2004
3,969
3
The 5C would have probably sold more if it had actually been cheap enough to warrant it. For the price, consumers may as well have stretched the extra £100 for the 5S. Especially if they were getting a subsidized contract which would have probably worked out at only an extra £2 or so a month.
So the 5C worked out for Apple then?
 

SpyderBite

macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2011
1,262
8
Xanadu
I usually buy on contract, so the 5c was a good choice for me when I needed to replace my lost 5. My 5 already did 10x more than I needed it to do for my every day needs. $99 was worth it to me in as it saved me $100 and I was able to break free of the traditional black/white/silver spectrum. :)
 

Lefty21

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2012
107
7
Lexington, KY
I get the premise of the article, but I don't understand where their numbers are coming from. $869 for a 16 GB 5S?

EDIT: Never mind, I get it - Australian dollars.
 

Jessica Lares

macrumors G3
Oct 31, 2009
9,200
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Near Dallas, Texas, USA
I'm going to get a 5C because at $199, I can get twice the storage, which is the only thing I want from the iPhone at this point. I've outgrown 16GB, but I can't afford the iPhone 5S at those $299 and $399 price points.

The average person gets so much more from the 5C than the 5S when they look beyond the fingerprint reader, better camera, and other stuff. Pictures are pictures, especially when you're going to Instagram the heck out of them.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
Designer Jony Ive even described the phone in the ad as “unapologetically plastic”.
I think the public impression was that Apple / Ive didn't seem to take the 5C design very seriously.

For one thing, the color choices were not fabulous. And everyone knew that there should've been a black.

Then there was the poorly done "holes" case. It almost seemed like a joke. Even a five year old would've cut out a big enough slot to show all of the "iPhone" logo :rolleyes:

iphone5c_holes.jpg

Not impressive design.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
So the 5C worked out for Apple then?
Are you suggesting that making a phone (5C) that nobody wants and does nothing but encourage sales of another model (5S) that already existed before the 5C is a good thing?

Because if that is the case, why even bother making the 5C? One phone, one choice.
 

Macman45

macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
13,196
133
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
The 5C would have probably sold more if it had actually been cheap enough to warrant it. For the price, consumers may as well have stretched the extra £100 for the 5S. Especially if they were getting a subsidized contract which would have probably worked out at only an extra £2 or so a month.

In short, the price was too high.
Exactly...The 5C was not cheap when compared to Android stuff...not cheap at all..You paid for what was basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell...Personally, I didn't like it, and bought an IP5S instead..As to whether or not it has introduced new people to the Apple community? I doubt it...If they'd priced it way lower then maybe they would have acheived the result they wanted...I don't think it was a total flop, but I'm not surprised that the sales figures don't set the world on fire....As a died in the wool Apple user, I would have held on to my 5 had I not been able to buy the 5S...I never considered the 5C as an option at all.
 

numlock

macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2006
1,588
88
But if Apple had kept the 5 would people have complained the price was too high? The technology is the same as the 5C. Seems to me the biggest problem with the 5C was the months of speculation that the "C" stood for cheap (because Wall Street is obsessed with market share at any cost). Heck Gene Munster was speculating on all the ways Apple might gimp the phone to make it cheap.

Maybe what we get from the 5C is analysts finally getting the message that Apple won't do cheap, and Apple getting the message that their customers prefer metal to plastic. I still think the 5C will stick around (with new colors) as the base level iPhone.
in what world is $549 cheap?

there is huge world between cheap and the price apple is charging for the 5c. its a nonsensical copout.

and yes people would still have complained and did complain previous years.

and yes ws is obsessed with market share which of course why they force downloads of ios7 and plaster graphs when it suits them at ever conference. no wait thats apple

I think the public impression was that Apple / Ive didn't seem to take the 5C design very seriously.

For one thing, the color choices were not fabulous. And everyone knew that there should've been a black.

Then there was the poorly done "holes" case. It almost seemed like a joke. Even a five year old would've cut out a big enough slot to show all of the "iPhone" logo :rolleyes:

View attachment 462009

Not impressive design.
no its an embarrassing design. premium example of the flat footedness of apple and how lazy and complacent ive has become
 

Septembersrain

Contributor
Dec 14, 2013
3,362
3,717
Texas
The blue iPhone 5c is my first iPhone. I went and bought a 5s later on in space grey. I will never sell my 5c though it's likely I may sell the 5s at a later date though. I was never a fan of Apple or the products they sold. If they had never taken a risk with the 5c, I may have never known a good product.

I feel the 5c hit a very small niche but did serve a purpose. It brought in people like me who've always had "Plastic" phones. While I do like my 5s, I love my 5c. It feels heavier, more solid, and that blue color is always mood heightening....
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
20,661
22,369
I think the public impression was that Apple / Ive didn't seem to take the 5C design very seriously.

For one thing, the color choices were not fabulous. And everyone knew that there should've been a black.

Then there was the poorly done "holes" case. It almost seemed like a joke. Even a five year old would've cut out a big enough slot to show all of the "iPhone" logo :rolleyes:

View attachment 462009

Not impressive design.

Not impressive design. Who in their right mind would approve an upside down Apple logo? Oh, that's right, Steve Jobs did. And designers eventually got him to change his mind and realize the logo should be right side up to the people it's facing. Just like he approved the flower power iMacs, the hockey puck mouse, the buttonless iPod shuffle and the fat nano. And the color choices for the iPod mini.



Under Steve Jobs Apple certainly had some design faux pas. Even good designers/design teams make mistakes. Honestly I think the 5C looks better in person than it does in photos. I know people who own it and I've played around with it at the Apple store. I actually think its a really nice phone and feels great in the hand. It feels really solid, not cheap at all. But I won't be surprised to see different colors this year.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
20,661
22,369
in what world is $549 cheap?

there is huge world between cheap and the price apple is charging for the 5c. its a nonsensical copout.

and yes people would still have complained and did complain previous years.

and yes ws is obsessed with market share which of course why they force downloads of ios7 and plaster graphs when it suits them at ever conference. no wait thats apple
When did I say the 5C was cheap? My point was the rumor mill and Wall Street "analysts" were expecting it to be cheap (based on the premise that Apple is doomed if it doesn't make a cheap phone to increase market share). Of course Apple doesn't typically respond to stuff like this so the cheap meme was never countered so when the phone came out and wasn't as cheap as expected it doomed the phone from the get go. Which, IMO, is too bad because the phone got good reviews (Engadget said it was the nicest plastic phone they've ever held, the Verge said the 5C could show other phone makers, e.g. Samsung, how to make a nice plastic phone) and it seems most people who own the phone really like it. On Apple's earnings call Tim Cook said a large number of 5C buyers were new to iPhone. Drop the 5C to the entry level iPhone, update the colors and I think it will be very successful.

As far as forcing iOS 7 on people, I have a number of friends and family members who are still running iOS 6 on devices that are capable of running iOS 7. They have no interest in updating. How is Apple forcing iOS 7 on them?

no its an embarrassing design. premium example of the flat footedness of apple and how lazy and complacent ive has become
Nothing lazy or complacent about the Mac Pro. And I love my iPad Air. Best iPad Apple has designed.
 

numlock

macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2006
1,588
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When did I say the 5C was cheap? My point was the rumor mill and Wall Street "analysts" were expecting it to be cheap (based on the premise that Apple is doomed if it doesn't make a cheap phone to increase market share). Of course Apple doesn't typically respond to stuff like this so the cheap meme was never countered so when the phone came out and wasn't as cheap as expected it doomed the phone from the get go. Which, IMO, is too bad because the phone got good reviews (Engadget said it was the nicest plastic phone they've ever held, the Verge said the 5C could show other phone makers, e.g. Samsung, how to make a nice plastic phone) and it seems most people who own the phone really like it. On Apple's earnings call Tim Cook said a large number of 5C buyers were new to iPhone. Drop the 5C to the entry level iPhone, update the colors and I think it will be very successful.
im not saying you directly said it was cheap. you mention some analysts predictions/hopes and that also been a defense here for the pricing of the 5c that apple dosent do cheap. my response is simply that it is far from being cheap and that a wiggle room must exist.

i would drop the price $100-150, update the colors as you say (personally i find them nicer looking in pictures than in real life) to me they look like plastic thats been discolored by the sun. it would be enough of a phone for.

As far as forcing iOS 7 on people, I have a number of friends and family members who are still running iOS 6 on devices that are capable of running iOS 7. They have no interest in updating. How is Apple forcing iOS 7 on them?
are you unaware of the automatic ios7 over the air downloads?
Nothing lazy or complacent about the Mac Pro. And I love my iPad Air. Best iPad Apple has designed.
the mac pro certainly is not complacent. how it works out in real life though will have to be seen. computer designs require more than a moma piece. from the little i have handled the ipad air it felt like an evolution of the previous versions.

but you can hardly defend the absurdity of the way the case looks on the 5c?
 

skottichan

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2007
879
901
Columbus, OH
im not saying you directly said it was cheap. you mention some analysts predictions/hopes and that also been a defense here for the pricing of the 5c that apple dosent do cheap. my response is simply that it is far from being cheap and that a wiggle room must exist.

i would drop the price $100-150, update the colors as you say (personally i find them nicer looking in pictures than in real life) to me they look like plastic thats been discolored by the sun. it would be enough of a phone for.



are you unaware of the automatic ios7 over the air downloads?


the mac pro certainly is not complacent. how it works out in real life though will have to be seen. computer designs require more than a moma piece. from the little i have handled the ipad air it felt like an evolution of the previous versions.

but you can hardly defend the absurdity of the way the case looks on the 5c?
You're still required to allow the install of iOS7. Sure it's known to download itself, but it still requires user to go into update and give input to actually update the OS.
 

thewitt

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2011
2,102
1,518
Apple's mistake was trying to play down to a market they have never served, with any of their devices. They DON'T do low end, and going down only part way appealed to no one.

Stay high end Apple. Let the other guys have the bargain hunters and continue to only release insanely great products.

Jobs would never have approved the 5C... Nothing insanely great about it.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,669
1,745
Exactly...The 5C was not cheap when compared to Android stuff...not cheap at all..You paid for what was basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell...Personally, I didn't like it, and bought an IP5S instead..As to whether or not it has introduced new people to the Apple community? I doubt it...If they'd priced it way lower then maybe they would have acheived the result they wanted...I don't think it was a total flop, but I'm not surprised that the sales figures don't set the world on fire....As a died in the wool Apple user, I would have held on to my 5 had I not been able to buy the 5S...I never considered the 5C as an option at all.
Apple did the last year's model for $100 less thing before without switching shells, presumably to cut material costs. Most of the hardware seemingly tracked the prior generation. I didn't see that as an attempt to build a lower cost device. It seemed like the goal was more of a cost cutting measure at the same price point they had always used for a previous generation device. They may have encountered more success if it was cheap enough to attract an increased number of unsubsidized purchases. Also including better color choices wouldn't have hurt.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
Apple's mistake was trying to play down to a market they have never served, with any of their devices. They DON'T do low end, and going down only part way appealed to no one.
The 5C is hardly a low end device, rather it's a relatively less expensive iPhone. The problem is, at some point in its design, that "relatively" became a "barely", and it ended up pricing itself out of the market it was trying to create.

At $399, the 5C would've been a steal, even if they had to scale back the hardware to achieve that price point. Right now though, at $549, the only thing it does is make the the 5S look better in comparison. Why spend that much for a good phone, when you can get the flagship best for just $100 more?
 

numlock

macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2006
1,588
88
You're still required to allow the install of iOS7. Sure it's known to download itself, but it still requires user to go into update and give input to actually update the OS.
im perfectly aware of how the process is (happened to two devices) and i specifically said force downloads instead of force installs.

but tell me on a device as small as 8 gig (even a 16 gig one). how much choice do you really have when this can take up over 3 gig?

----------

The 5C is hardly a low end device, rather it's a relatively less expensive iPhone. The problem is, at some point in its design, that "relatively" became a "barely", and it ended up pricing itself out of the market it was trying to create.

At $399, the 5C would've been a steal, even if they had to scale back the hardware to achieve that price point. Right now though, at $549, the only thing it does is make the the 5S look better in comparison. Why spend that much for a good phone, when you can get the flagship best for just $100 more?
that is a line that is repeated here ad nauseam. i seriously doubt the ones repeating have a mind of their with regards to this matter at least.

$300-450 for a phone before tax is considered low end and cheap.