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It appears that the iPhone 5c experiment won’t soon be repeated

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:51PM EST
iPhone 5c Flop

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Notice anything unusual about this week’s Apple keynote? You know, aside from the first Apple phablet and confirmation of a wrist-worn wearable? This year’s mix of iPhone product is dramatically different from that issued at Apple’s prior September event, and I suspect that it speaks volumes about where the company will (and won’t) go moving forward. When the iPhone 5c was unveiled, it felt very forced. It wasn’t a low-cost iPhone — a product that could’ve driven up Apple’s marketshare in emerging markets. It was a watered down iPhone 5s, a phone that left many scratching their heads as to who exactly it was for.

This year, Apple still took the wraps off of two new phones, but with one key distinction from 2013: both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are premium products.

For as long as the company has been around, Apple has focused on making “the best” of whatever. Rummage around in its messaging, and you’ll find mentions of “the best” personal computer, tablet, phone, etc. Apple’s response to investors calling for an entrant into low-cost markets was (and still is) plugged ears. Apple isn’t out to win every market share race; Apple is out to delight the customer base that can afford what it puts on shelves.

Which is why the iPhone 5c felt so incredibly out of place. It was only $100 cheaper than the far superior iPhone 5s, and while it was available in colors, everyone who would be even remotely interested in an iPhone is aware of the billion-dollar accessory market that exists in Apple’s purview. If you want to add color to your iPhone, your case options are nearly limitless.

A $100 discount wasn’t enough to convince the masses to overlook the 5c’s omission of a Touch ID sensor and its weaker processor. Conversely, only slashing $100 wasn’t enough to make nations like India, Indonesia, and Brazil snap the 5c up by the millions.

It strikes me as a relief that there was no “light” version of the iPhone 6 revealed today. The only handsets Apple launched were flagship units, with no compromises in an attempt to address a market that really doesn’t exist. That’s not to say that Apple won’t experiment with varying tiers of products in the future, but sticking to its premium heritage speaks volumes about how poorly the 5c went over.

I also noticed Apple boasting about a multitude of color and texture options when referencing cases for both iPhone 6 units. It’s not that Apple doesn’t want you to embrace hues — it just doesn’t like building phones without a target market.

Darren Murph Contributing Editor

Darren lends his expertise in tech news coverage to BGR, covering topics from a human perspective. He was previously Editor-in-chief of TechRadar, Senior Vice President, Editorial Strategy Weber Shandwick, Managing Editor of Engadget, and Senior Strategist/Writer at The Points Guy.