KGI’s Mingchi Kuo, an analyst with a solid track-record, and the man who came closest (almost) to calling opening weekend sales of the iPhone, now believes Apple shipped ‘just’ 11.4M iPhone 5c handsets in September, rather than the 17M he had earlier forecast, reports Business Insider.

Kuo is now estimating Apple shipped 11.4 million 5Cs in the September quarter, a 33% drop from his original estimate. He also says he expects 5C sales to be just 10.4 million units for the December quarter, a 10% sequential drop.

This makes some sense of the rampant discounting seen on the 5C (which actually started at Walmart before launch), but doesn’t necessarily mean that iPhone sales as a whole are down … 

While it seems clear that Apple and other outlets over-estimated early demand for the 5c despite limiting TV advertising to the cheaper of the two models, continuing stock shortages of the 5s suggest that this has been balanced by Apple under-estimating demand for the more expensive handset.

Apple is not expected to announce the breakdown of sales between the 5C and 5S but we’ll find out whether momentum from the record-breaking start has been maintained when Apple reports its Q4 earnings on 28th October.

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36 Responses to “Are iPhone 5c sales low or supplies high?”

  1. Stetson says:

    The 5C is not a phone that people would purchase at launch. It’s a phone that people will buy when they wander into their carrier store when they’re eligible for an upgrade.

    • rettun1 says:

      Hopefully that’s the case. I’ve been to a ton of carrier stores and very often they recommend android devices over iPhone. They don’t even have iPhones on display most of the time. Almost like the are actively rooting against the iPhone

      • standardpull says:

        In the stores, they are selling a $650 iPhone for $200. OR they can sell a low-end $400 Android for $1. That means the carriers make $50 more selling the “free” low-end Android phone.

        If you were a sales guy, you’d be smarter to convince customers into buying the Android regardless of the price tag. And so therefore all the marketing materials and shelf space is dedicated to moving the higher-profit devices.

  2. Just go to any apple store. Everybody asking for a 5S and shelves full of 5Cs…
    They should price even 150$ less to make it desiderable.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Which either means sales are low or supplies are high – no way to tell which without actual numbers

      • No, simply nobody’s willing to buy a 5c…
        Last day I was in line at the opening in front of the Opera apple store in Paris, the line in a normal Tuesday was about of 70 people, as soon as the apple guy went out and told us that only 5c and 4s were avaiable while there were no iPhone 5s that day, the line disappear. Literally.
        The previous day in another store I stayed a few minutes next to the iPhone shopping corner: tens of people continuously asking without success for a 5s, not even a single sell of a 5c…

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        The type of people willing to queue to buy a phone are, in general, going to be there for the latest greatest one

  3. Ehhh? so sales are bad, but it’s 2nd best selling phone in ATT/Sprint and 3rd best at Verizon and T-Mobile.. Beating out all but iPhone 5S and Galaxy S 4 at Verizon/Tmo.. and it’s soft?

    For a phone doing poorly, it’s selling awfully well.. heh.. I think we have another case of Analysts setting expectations for failure.. again..

  4. My daughter is the coolest kid at her school because she has the (blue) 5c. At an overnight slumber party, kids were sneaking into the phone holding bag at 2am to play with it. (Iknow because they used up data like there was no tomorrow)

  5. Apple can sell all they want if they leave free option to consumers, it is time to sell those iPhones as IPod Touch, so when the user is ready for data plan or prepaid minutes he has the device already.

    • Laughing_Boy48 says:

      That’s a great idea since iPod sales are falling every year. I’d go for something like that. But the only problem is even the 64 GB iPod Touch sells outright for $399, so a 32 GB iPhone 5c would have to cost at least that much and many may think that’s too steep a price. To me, the 5c would be a better deal than an iPod Touch because it can do a lot more and the specs are higher.

  6. The Apple consumers are confused. A cheap iPhone that’s not cheap. The iPhone 5c is just last year’s iPhone 5 in a plastic case. Sooner or later when things have to change in order to stay relevent, you end up contradicting your brand identity. Your customers get confused because you, Apple, are confused. It’s time to wake up, Appleheads! Go get yourselves a Nokia Lumia 925 or wait till the new 6 inch phablet, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is launched on 22nd October. Same day as your crappy iPad 5 is launched. WAKE UP!!

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      iPhone vs Windows Phone? Hmm, tricky one …

    • PMZanetti says:

      That drivel is DOA before its even launched. Its not even appropriate to mention in the same discussion as iPad, unless you’re nothing more than a troll.

    • Laughing_Boy48 says:

      The Lumia 925 hardware is nice but it’s running that crappy Windows Phone OS with a piss-poor ecosystem with only about 140,000 apps. It’s like a toddler learning how to crawl when iOS and Android are driving cars. Nokia hardware is decent, but Windows Phone OS is sucking everyone’s hind tit. I know Nokia is popular in Europe but I live in the U.S. and nobody uses them here.

    • oh my, it seems you have never had an iphone. moving to android from it is almost impossible, but windows… oh my…

  7. Kudos to you Mr. Lovejoy as your one of the rare writers who actually responds to comments about your articles (that’s brave). I would like to say that it’s almost popular now a days to spin whatever info you can on Apple to make it sound negative to generate page views. It’s simply insane to say that “Apple’s Plastic iPhone Experiment Looks Like It’s Failing” ( Last time I checked, Apple is selling TONS of iPhones.

    I don’t think anyone has even dug deep to see what the sales looked like when the 3GS, 4, or even 4s was dropped to $100 or free. I’m guessing they didn’t “fly off the shelves” during the launch window of the new model. I guess since Apple is touting the 5C as being “new,” it’s just another way to discredit sales figures. They need to remember the guts of this phone are already a year old and Apple is probably making a very healthy margin on these devices.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Thanks, David, I always read comments and do my best to reply. Apple is in many ways a victim of its success in terms of analyst and media responses, being judged against (often inflated) expectations more than results.

  8. Those are still really good sales.

  9. Can someone please explain to me how there are too many 5C’s, when my girlfriend reserved one 2 weeks ago at Rogers (Canada), and we still haven’t received it??? Is this just a cell phone company gimmick to make people angry and switch to ‘droid?

    • weakguy says:

      I don’t think it’s Apple, but the cellular company. If you reserved it directly at Apple Store you should have it by now. Either that or Apple doesn’t care about our Canadian bros. I hope that’s not the case.

  10. kpom1 says:

    It’s not necessarily a “good” thing if they underestimated demand for the 5s. They could have used some of the capacity that went into the 5c production in order to have more 5s on hand at launch.

    • Laughing_Boy48 says:

      You think Apple has some crystal ball to see into the future? Well, they don’t. Sometimes humans are just unpredictable and of course Apple could have simply miscalculated product demand. Do you really think any company is infallible? However, I do know that three weeks is hardly too late for Apple to shift production gears to re-balance production. It’s only been three weeks, mind you, not three months. This is just the start of iPhone 5c sales, not even mid-game. By the holidays, Apple will have production levels of both iPhone models well sorted out if the components are available. I’m sure the iPhone 5c models won’t sit on shelves forever. Apple may have to change it’s marketing plan for the 5c but this is something that a top company like Apple should be able to manage without too much trouble.

      For instance, do you think Microsoft knew in advance it wouldn’t be able to sell many Surface RTs? How could they know exactly how many to manufacture. Unfortunately, they erred far too much on the high side. These things happen all the time. It’s called a calculated business risk. They took their billion dollar charge and its in the past. They’re ready to do it again. I can assure you Apple will not have to take a billion dollar charge on the iPhone 5c because of three weeks worth of inventory glut (if that’s the case).

  11. Laughing_Boy48 says:

    Why are people constantly speculating about iPhone 5c inventory or manufacturing reductions? No one knows for sure how Apple decided to handle the production rate. Financial earnings are due shortly and Apple will let everyone know at that time. Do most companies have to suffer this between quarter speculation of sales? I’m sure no one is keeping track of how many Amazon Kindle Fire HDXs are being being sold or languishing in inventory and even when earnings are announced Jeff Bezos isn’t going to say spit about Kindle sales.

    Why the endless speculation about Apple product sales on a weekly basis? It’s been less than a month since the iPhone 5c release so how can sales be considered a success or failure in such a short amount of time. What company sells out entire inventories when millions of units are being manufactured in such a short time. Such expectations for Apple are absolutely insane when almost no one knows the total number of iPhones being manufactured. Apple might have had a huge amount of 5c units stockpiled compared to the 5s. We just don’t know. It’s better to wait than draw meaningless conclusions.

  12. Rob Robinson says:

    I had a 5s ordered, and went into the store on launch day and cancelled it to walk out with a blue 5c. I vastly prefer the hand feel and weight of the 5c, and hey- the color is kinda fun. (i bought it off contract as well, fwiw)

  13. drtyrell969 says:

    Well if Facebook responses are an indicator, the EXODUS has begun. Too little innovation. Too much tyranny.

  14. that is supposed to be a n iphone for india and china. is it launched there yet?

  15. jonshf says:

    So is nobody finding it odd that the 5C will have sold 11.4M units during the 2 weeks it was for sale in the September quarter and then to sell only 10.4M units in the full 13 week December quarter? This would not be described as a decline in sales but a catastrophic collapse.

    Note that the 5C will debut in the December quarter in many countries in Europe and elsewhere.

  16. Mark Granger says:

    It all makes sense when you include the plan. If an iPhone 5s costs $2000 for the phone and two years of service then an iPhone 5c costs $1900. Would you pay $100 more for twice the CPU speed, a better camera, beautiful styling and to own the best iPhone? I would. It makes even more sense when you consider that it costs the same amount to buy yourself out of your plan regardless of whether you bought the 5c or 5s. The 5c needed to cost $200 less than the 5s for it to make any sense. I am sure it will by next September.

    • Luis Lopes says:

      Great way to think about this.

      5C is way expensive than it should be, compared to 5S.
      If Apple want to make it cheaper, they got to make some trade-offs.

      The ideia of “apple only makes the better product” must change a bit in order to get a good 2nd product.

  17. Luis Lopes says:

    5C and 5S are in the same price tag. Once you decide you want to spend 550$ you start asking why should you spend 100$ more and there a better product?!

    In fact, the only thing that is great is the 5C is the Design – You might argue that im wrong at this point (which i totally understand) but i like 5C`s design more than the 5S. But that`s just my personal taste.

  18. Patrick Choi says:

    I think it’s a phone people buy for others. Thus sales should spike around holiday season which is coming up. People who buy the 5S do so for themselves. I know we are probably going to buy at least 1-2 5Cs for grandparents this Christmas, but there’s no reason to do so today.