John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

iPhone 5s Outselling iPhone 5c Two to One

25s_to_15cAsked during Apple’s last earnings call if he feared the higher end of the smartphone market was nearing saturation, CEO Tim Cook said he did not. “I don’t subscribe to the common view that the higher end, if you will, of the smartphone market is at its peak,” Cook said. “I don’t believe that.”

Turns out Cook had good reason to take that view. In September, Apple launched a pair of new iPhones, the flagship iPhone 5s and the mid-tier iPhone 5c, and a new analysis by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that the higher-end 5s has been outselling the lower-priced 5c in the United States.

According to CIRP’s survey of U.S. consumers who purchased Apple’s latest iPhones during the last days of September, the 5s accounted for 64 percent of total iPhone sales following its launch that month. Meanwhile, the 5c accounted for 27 percent, with the legacy iPhone 4S making up the remaining 9 percent.

So not only is the 5s outselling the 5c, it’s outselling it more than two to one.

Welcome news for Apple, since cannibalization of the 5s by the 5c was a potential commercial risk for this iPhone cycle. CIRP’s data suggests that the company has so far avoided it — though that’s hardly surprising at this early stage. After all, the iPhone 5c was intended as a mainstream smartphone, the iPhone 5s as an enthusiast one — a “forward-thinking” device for forward-thinking folks. And enthusiasts are often early adopters.

What’s more surprising is the iPhone 5c’s sales performance relative to that of the iPhone 4S’s following the debut of the iPhone 5. Despite the 5c’s newness and its colorful design, it’s not selling that much better than the 4S did when it was demoted to legacy iPhone by the flagship iPhone 5.

According to CIRP’s analysis, the 5c accounted for 27 percent of iPhone sales during the time period surveyed — just slightly more than the 23 percent captured by the 4S during the same period last year. Remember, the new 5c is this year stepping into a role similar to the one the old 4S served last year: The $99 iPhone. But Apple has attempted to improve its value proposition, tricking it out with a new plastic chassis and color options.

Also worth noting: The iPhone 5 appears to have had a slightly more successful debut than the iPhone 5s, capturing 68 percent of new sales compared to the 64 percent captured by the 5s.

CIRP_iphone5sc_sales_by_model

So, at launch, the iPhone 5s has proven more popular than the iPhone 5c. Will it continue to be into the new year? Or will sales slow a bit once the early-adopter binge has concluded?

“The relative performance of all three iPhones is generally in line with the performance of the similarly priced phones following the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012,” CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz told AllThingsD. “Over time, the lower-priced phones have tended to gain share versus the flagship phone, after the initial rush of dedicated upgraders to the newest device. So we expect that the 5c will account for a higher percent of total U.S. iPhone sales in the coming months, but the design changes may alter that dynamic. The iPhone 5c may appeal to different buyers than the legacy 4S did last year, or the new 5s will this year.”


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