Umeng, China’s largest app analytics platform, produced this chart of iPhone activity on its network following the launch of the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C.
It’s a disaster for the iPhone 5C. Four months after the launch of the iPhone 5C, activations remain way below those of the 5S. The chart shows what percentage of users are on which device:
The 5C is on only 2% of devices on Umeng, the company says. It draws its data from 75,000 developers and 210,000 apps on its network. The 5S is on 12% of devices — or six times as many.
The good news for Apple is that the iPhone 5S is way more popular than the iPhone 5 was. And the 5S is much more expensive than the 5C. So Apple’s “problem” here is a high-class one.
Nonetheless, when Apple gets something wrong, it’s so unusual that it makes headlines. There has been a wave of rumours recently that the iPhone 5C has essentially failed, and that CEO Tim Cook will cancel the product later this year.
First, Cook admitted on his last earnings call that the company had predicted demand for the iPhone 5 incorrectly:
… 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.
He added that Apple would be unsentimental about making “a change” to the lineup if required: “if we decide it’s in our best interest to make a change, then we’ll make one.”
Then came an unconfirmed report from the Asian news site DigiTimes that there were warehouses in Taiwan that had 3 million unsold iPhone 5C’s in them:
Due to below-expectations sales performance, recent market rumours have indicated that iPhone 5c shipments drastically deceased at the end of 2013 and inventory volumes have built up to more than three million units, consisting of about two million units at ODM Pegatron Technology and over one million units in total with telecom carriers and distributors, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers. Apple did not confirm the reports.
DigiTimes has a mixed track record of reporting on Apple, so take that with a pinch of salt.
But it’s obvious that the one thing everyone is NOT hearing is rumours about what an amazing success the iPhone 5C has been, and how everyone wants one. Anecdotally, BI staffers say they know many more people who opted for the 5S. Those who got the 5C did so because they broke their iPhone 5’s and didn’t want to pay extra for the 5S — the 5C is a forced backup play, not a go-to product, so to speak.
But Apple isn’t giving up yet: It’s running a campaign on Tumblr featuring cute 5C-themed GIF animations.