One of the big question marks around the iPhone 5C – the rumored name for the mid-market plastic iPhone – is how Apple will prevent the lower-cost phone cannibalizing sales of the iPhone 5 and 5S.

One possibility is to limit sales of the 5C to emerging markets. Apple could make it available in India and China, where price is a much bigger barrier to iPhone acquisition, and withhold it from North America and Europe. That would make a great deal of sense, but is extremely unlikely and an approach Apple has ever taken before.

Analyst Gene Munster has another theory, though one just as unlikely: that the 5C will omit a key feature of present-generation iPhones: Siri.

Additionally, we believe that Apple may exclude some software features, such as Siri, which we note was not an option on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 upon launch … 

You can almost see the logic if you don’t think about it too much: it’s a core feature of the iPhone, and one that most existing iPhone owners and intenders would not want to sacrifice. As a differentiator between full-fledge iPhones and an entry-level model, it would be a massive one.

But that’s also the reason it seems kind of unlikely. Siri is not only available on the iPhone 5, but also the older 4S, the iPod Touch and the iPad Mini (which could be viewed as the iPad equivalent of the 5C).

Siri is also a feature which Apple has promoted heavily. For a time, it was almost synonymous with the iPhone, and was a feature that other smartphone users envied. But that was then: these days, even pretty low-end Android phones have voice-recognition. Pitching a more expensive phone without it would be a tough proposition today.

Finally, we have to consider the source. Gene Munster’s track-record is, shall we say, less than stellar. There was the Retina iPad Mini he told us was happening in March, the iPhone 5S was going to be out in June, and let’s not forget the Apple HDTV that he’s basically been predicting every quarter since early 2011.

Still, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so we wouldn’t rule it out entirely, we just wouldn’t put any money on it.

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26 Responses to “Analyst suggests unlikely possibility of no Siri on iPhone 5C to reduce cannibalization”

  1. Alex Kaess says:

    Why would Apple necessarily be worried about cannibalization from the iPhone 5C? Recent analysis from Brian Marshall at the ISI group suggests that the 5C could have higher margins than the flagship models. I would assume Apple would only be worried about cannibalization if the cannibalizing product was lower margin (i.e. iPad mini with the iPad).

    All that aside, there is absolutely no chance that Apple will make a new iPhone without Siri. Zero chance in my opinion.

  2. Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, man.

  3. Absolute Crap!!!
    I am thinking of buying an iPhone the one with Aluminium… and I will buy …no matter if cheap iPhone is with or without siri…

  4. Gene Munster has to be an idiot if he thinks any new iPhone won’t get a 2 year old feature that is also on iPads and iPod Touches. Seriously dumb. Concerningly dumb.

    • jakexb says:

      That’s what I was thinking. It would be an incredibly un-Apple thing to do. The 4s would have been the low end phone this year and the 4s has Siri.

  5. mkimid says:

    Actually, there is no extra cost to support Siri, just exclude a Siri, it is not a way. Apple should prepare some thing new and advanced for the highend model instead of kill some function if they want to expand their market without damage on the premium market. it is the most foolish idea, I feel.

  6. I have iPhone 4 and there is also no Siri and it actually not a problem for me :) Siri works correctly only in english, but there are lot of iPhone owners whos native language is not english and using Siri is pain in the **s. Apple should make Siri to other languages too, then it would grow the sales massivly.

  7. This theory predicates that Siri is a must-have feature of the current iPhone line up – there are numerous accounts (particularly outside of the US) of Siri not being adopted because it doesn’t understand the users voice. Existing owners of the iPhone 4 & 4S still want to upgrade to the 5 (and beyond) because of the lighter form-factor, faster processor etc. Siri is still a gimmick to make people laugh at parties with StuffThatSiriSays and will likely remain to be so until voice recognition and full application utilisation is answered.

  8. Gene Munster is almost wrong. He has one of the worst track records of all the analysts. Wish it was my job to just make things up from little to no evidence.

  9. Gene Munster is we-todd-ed, seriously.

  10. josh says:

    Personally I almost never use Siri. Maybe once a month? I activate by mistake 10x more often than I do on purpose. If have a cold, it doesn’t understand me. If there’s too much background noise, it doesn’t understand me. I usually don’t even think of using it. However, I’m not sure it makes much sense as a differentiator. Part of the appeal of the iPhone is as a status symbol. Making the 5C out of plastic and visibly distinguishable from the 5/5S might be enough to get people to pony up the extra cash for “high class” model.

  11. standardpull says:

    Apple is almost certain to release new software and hardware features with the next iPhone. And therefore it is not necessary for Apple artificially eliminate Siri in order to be a “differentiator”.

    Eliminating Siri would be a dumb move: every 3rd party is working to include voice processing – and so any new iPhone release without a voice processing capability will fail to compete against every emerging device in the market.

  12. tincan2012 says:

    Did anyone ask Siri what she thinks about this? C’mon, she has feelings too.

  13. But Siri is not in the 4 which sells very well currently does it not?

  14. Something has to be removed, yes? I don’t think the cost of the back panel equates to the savings people will have, or expect. Something more substantial needs to be omitted.

  15. I think Gene Munster and other analysts are looking at this the wrong way. A cheaper iPhone like the rumored 5C will allow Apple to sell iPhones to millions of customers who would otherwise have opted for cheap Android phones in that price range. They are an addition to the existing line of iPhones, not a subtraction. Cannibalization? Not really. If the price difference between an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 5C is offset by the cheaper components and manufacturing process, then Apple could theoretically maintain the same profit margin on the new cheaper models.

  16. Siri being missing helps no one. Apple wants all the data it can get. The only reason to make a low cost iphone is to bring the features that the older models couldn’t do at the low end. lte and siri are those features apple wants everyone to have. Hence why ipad mini has low specs but does have lte and siri. A new phone without these makes no sense to me—then just keep selling the older model devices if your going to do that.

    But with that I’m still confused about the choice to do this phone as 4″. Think they should have gone with 3.5″ to further differentiate and entice people to the higher end model or give people who want a smaller phone an option.

  17. Apple has never cared about cannibalizing their own products, so this is a moot point.

  18. danbridgland says:

    It’s simple. The 5C will be:

    3G only, no LTE even if it has an Gobi chipset.
    Older A5 or similar chip making it slower less graphics capabilities.
    It’ll be chunkier and heavier, therefore less appealing than the 5S
    No fingerprint reader.

  19. AWESOME! Then I’ll be buying it! Siri is nothing more than a PITA party gimmick that can’t be turned off. If Apple makes a phone without it, I’ll be more likely to buy it!

  20. I think it’s a bad move. There has been a “low-cost” iPhone since the early years of iPhone, but people don’t notice it! I don’t know why!
    The previous model sold for a much cheaper price; Isn’t that better than the rumoured “budget plastic iPhone 5C” or whatever you wanna call it?

    • JP says:

      It’s not really. Instead of saying you have the iPhone 4S (two years old now), you say you have the new iPhone 5C! It sound cool because apple updates the 5A and 5C so they are both “new”, even though one has old parts.

      It’s like putting old parts into a new enclosure. It costs less and appeals more.