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Apple Veteran: Making Plastic Part Of The Strategy Is What Doomed The iPhone 5c

Apple Veteran: Making Plastic Part Of The Strategy Is What Doomed The iPhone 5c

February 20, 2014
The iPhone 5c has become somewhat of a punching bag since it first debuted last fall. Criticism has only increased in recent weeks after The Wall Street Journal suggested Apple would ditch the plastic used on the device for 2014 iPhone models. The latest jab comes from former Apple executive Ken Segall, who says the iPhone 5c has failed because “Apple doesn’t do cheap.” His issue isn’t that Apple released an iPhone in plastic. “After all, iPhones were made of plastic before.” Rather, Segall’s beef is that Apple made plastic a big part of the company's iPhone 5c launch strategy. Segall, who is an Apple veteran who worked as an agency creative director under Steve Jobs from NeXT onwards, notes:
Clearly plastic was a big part of the iPhone 5c strategy. The launch ad was entitled Plastic Perfected. The launch video featured Jony Ive explaining that iPhone 5c was “unapologetically plastic.” There was a strategic plan to head off the potential negative by boldly proclaiming it as a positive.
As Segall concludes:
The “unapologetically plastic” line in the product video was so interesting and memorable, it got played back over and over in articles about the lackluster demand for iPhone 5c. Not exactly what Apple intended.
Apple has never said the iPhone 5c is facing extinction. But Apple CEO Tim Cook did note that iPhone sales “did not do well” during the holiday quarter because the demand “mix was stronger to the 5s.” Cook’s comments came soon after Apple announced record iPhone sales of 51 million units between October and December. Experts were expecting Apple to announce iPhone sales of at least 55 million units. Apple doesn’t break out iPhone sales by handset model. This hasn’t stopped some analysts from concluding that iPhone 5c sales have been disastrous, at best. In January, Liberty Voice claimed iPhone 5c sales were 30 percent lower than expected. Earlier, a study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) said the iPhone 5c accounted for just 27 percent of total iPhone sales in the United States. I think Segall’s comments are right on the mark. As I first noted last month, I don’t believe that most folks want a plastic iPhone in pastels. Instead, they’d rather carry a real iPhone — even if it is last year’s model. Apple seems to have finally gotten this, and will adjust its iPhone lineup accordingly. Apple's "Plastic Perfected" ad: Segall's book "Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success," was published in 2012.  

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