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However, Apple may avoid this fate because it has waited several years to offer a cheaper iPhone, and in that time the cost of components has dropped a lot, Jones argued.
"Apple is taking baby steps towards growth, with profit margins in mind," said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.
The iPhone 5c is Apple's effort to reach midrange customers, she added. But the 5c costs $549 out of contract, which still puts the phone out of reach for a lot of consumers outside the U.S., she noted.
"To reach the maximum number of customers, ideally you would have a product that millions more consumers could afford un-subsidized," Epps added.
The iPhone 5s will sell briskly because new technology, such as fingerprint authentication, gives Apple fans enough of a reason to upgrade from previous models, Epps said. The iPhone 5c will be a tougher sell because Apple is going after a new customer who is also considering Android, she added.
Apple is taking this risk because the company wants growth but also needs to maintain its profit margins.
"Shareholders want it all -- growth and high profit margins -- and Apple is walking a tightrope between those two goals," Epps said.
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