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What
What's the Truth About iPhone 5c Sales?

By Jennifer LeClaire
September 17, 2013 1:08PM

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Is the iPhone 5 really in short supply, as the buzz would have you believe, or is anyone even interested? Are the pre-order numbers so low that Apple won't even divulge them? One analyst says, "Don't worry. They will buy. They will always buy," referring to the Apple faithfuls who always manage to make each iPhone roll-out a success.
 



Like clockwork, Apple announces how many pre-orders of the latest iPhone it has on record the Monday after it makes the hyped-up announcement. Those figures are always record breaking.

This Monday, Sept. 16, there was no announcement.

For all the talk around the lower-cost, plastic-styled iPhone 5c before it was unveiled, there's just as much chatter about what appeared to be less than a standing ovation in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and beyond.

Wall Street took notice, and Apple's stock dipped on Monday. After closing at $465 on Friday, the iPhone-maker's shares lost $15 in value on Monday.

It should be noted, of course, that you can't pre-order the iPhone 5s this time around. Consumers will have to stand in lines for those devices. (How long those lines will be remains to be seen.) But why the iPhone 5c is posting questionable sales is, well, questionable.

Don't Worry, They'll Buy

Is there really a problem with Apple iPhone 5c pre-sale numbers in the United States and China? Or is Apple holding the numbers for some other reason?

We asked Jeff Kagan, a wireless analyst in Atlanta, for his take on the hubbub. He told us speculation abounds about why Apple's pre-sale numbers are reportedly so weak in China -- and so far nonexistent here in the U.S.

"Is this a bad omen? Give me a break," Kagan said. "How about this is simply a maturing marketplace and nothing is really wrong at all? Although, growing competitive forces play a role as well."

Kagan questions why anyone would wait in long lines around the block or pre-order when you can simply pick up your new phone whenever you want. He thinks of it like a marriage: When you were dating, you couldn't wait to be together. Years later, after you got married that need faded.

"You still love your husband or wife more than anything, but you matured. Same here with the iPhone," Kagan said. "So let's stop making a mountain out of a molehill. This is not a big deal any longer for Apple users. Don't worry. They will buy. They will always buy."

Plenty of Supply?

At $99 for what an AT&T salesperson told me is essentially a slightly smaller iPhone 5 in plastic casing with upgraded software and hardware, one would think Apple would sell plenty across all markets.

The iPhone 5c offers a 4-inch Retina display, fast performance of the A6 chip, and the 8 megapixel iSight camera. The iPhone 5c comes with more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world, a new FaceTime HD camera, and iOS 7 with all its new bells and whistles. The iPhone 5c comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white.

In the past, supply constraints have put pressure on consumers to act quickly. But that may not be a compelling factor to pre-order the iPhone 5c. And that may be why the orders aren't as robust -- if indeed they aren't as robust.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment. But Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald Equity Research, told the Los Angeles Times: "Our research has not uncovered any supply constraints around the iPhone 5c this year, as we believe the manufacturing process is relatively straightforward given the polycarbonate case."
 

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