The iPhone 5c is basically the iPhone 5, just with a plastic shell. As such, it’s pretty much an established product, but it is a “risk” for Apple in the sense that they’ve never made a “budget” product before. So you’d think the 5c getting its order cut would be a bad sign… except with Apple, nothing is as it seems.
First, the facts: producers of the iPhone 5c are being told that orders will be cut back 20 to 30 percent. The general narrative is that the iPhone 5S, with its fancy Constitutional rights violations and optional tackiness, is outselling the iPhone 5c. And yes, with any other mobile company, that’s generally seen as a pretty bad sign. But Apple isn’t just any mobile company.
Let’s start with basic math. Apple makes, quite literally, millions of these things; to anticipate demand, they have to. Most mobile companies don’t make millions, so 20 to 30% cuts to, say, an LG phone is not the same thing as 20 to 30% cut off an Apple phone.
And Apple actually tends to do this a lot. Right after the iPhone 5 hit the market, Apple actually cut the order by nearly half for the iPhone 5: It went on to sell 89 million devices. A device that generates hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue requires some pretty hard spin to be seen as a failure.
Then there’s the fact that, yeah, of course the iPhone 5S is outselling the iPhone 5c. Duh. Anybody expecting the opposite to happen is either willfully ignorant or totally confused about Apple’s customer base. It’s doubtful even Apple expected the iPhone 5c to outsell the 5S. Consider that every version of the iPhone 5c story is trying to make the fact that Apple sells more of its most expensive, highest-grossing product as a problem.
Also, this thing has sold about three million units so far, depending on who you ask, so, again, there’s that whole “generates tons of revenue” thing to think about. But “Apple is looking for an ideal balance to its supply chain” doesn’t get as many clicks as “OMG the iPhone 5c is tanking”, we suppose.