Former Apple executive explains why the iPhone 5c flopped

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Sales of the iPhone 5c were not as strong as Apple expected with many analysts and pundits calling the phone a flop. Former Apple advertising executive Ken Segall considered the plight of the iPhone 5c and shared on his blog why he thinks it did not attract new customers.

Segall points out that Apple did not hide the plastic construction of the phone. Instead, the company highlighted the design by saying the iPhone 5c was “unapologetically plastic,” and its construction was “Plastic Perfected.” Segal admits the iPhone 5c was not a compromise in quality, but its mid-range price point and its plastic construction posed a marketing challenge for Apple.

Was plastic a compromise on quality? Not necessarily. After all, iPhones were made of plastic before. However, as the device evolved to become more jewel-like, the plastic was left behind. So clearly a new phone made of plastic would create a marketing challenge.

Ultimately, Segall claims that no amount of slick marketing could sell the iPhone 5C because the original product strategy was flawed. “Advertising can add momentum and generate buzz,” writes Segall, “but it can’t turn a bad product into a sensation.” The iPhone 5c failed because, in part, Apple is a premium brand and the plastic on the iPhone 5c was equated with cheap.

First, Steve Jobs was right. Apple is a company that doesn’t do “cheap.” It makes products for people who care about design, simplicity, quality and a great experience — and are willing to pay more for these things.

Even CEO Tim Cook admitted during the company’s last earnings conference call that it misjudged demand for the iPhone 5C.

I think last quarter we did a tremendous job, particularly given the mix was something very different than we thought. It was the first time we’d ever run that particular play before, and demand percentage turned out to be different than we thought. We obviously always look at our results, and conclude what to change moving forward. And if we decide it’s in our best interest to make a change, then we’ll make one.

I think the iPhone 5c missed the mark because it was an expensive plastic phone. It was close enough in price to the iPhone 5s that many customers were comfortable with paying a bit more to buy the feature-filled iPhone 5s. Those customers shopping for a bargain phone preferred the plastic design, but the elevated price tag pushed them to choose an inexpensive Android device instead.

Why do you think the iPhone 5c failed to generate consumer interest? Share your theories in the comments.

[Via BGR]