iPhone 5s & 5c launch imminent – but what does that C stand for?


The ‘anticipation’ is ‘hotting up’ due to ‘feverish speculation’ as we prepare for the ‘expected launch’ of the new Apple iPhone today.

Or in other words – because every visiting executive, courier and pizza boy coming out of Apple’s factories in China appears to have been gifted with a comprehensive press release with a list of new features, we’re going to be seeing a premium model – the 5s, and a cheaper model, the 5c.

We’ll be seeing a fingerprint sensor, used for unlocking the home screen and confirming identity for payments via the phone.

Though technically these are still all rumours – Apple did buy a fingerprint scanning company called AuthenTec back in 2011 – and for £350 million, it’s unlikely that they’d sit on that technology much longer.

But that’s really about it for the premium model. Though we’ll also have to deal with the uncomfortable subtext that inevitably rears its head when technology companies back themselves into corner. Though I’m sure we’ll all get comfortable with the iFinger in due course and we’ll have no problem whatsoever in slipping it in (to conversation) as naturally and as snugly as the iPad fitted following its uncomfortable beginnings back in 2010.

Bringing sexy (plastic) back

Anyone that’s familiar with the iPhone launch cycle will understand that the S models rarely do more than add a couple of features, generally retaining the design of its predecessor – which leaves the 5C, the cheaper model with a plastic back, as the big news for this release. If, of course, it materialises.

And if it doesn’t? Well, Apple would have made a pretty big mistake. Notable for its continuing failure to address the Chinese market and dwindling market share to Android platforms – Apple will have to do something or significantly lose its power.

For a start, in the last year, China overtook the US as the world’s biggest market for smartphones launching a fervent battle for the market. Secondly, Android phones are now beginning to dominate. Thirdly, Apple are on the back foot as the Chinese market has opted for cheaper alternatives to the expensive handset.

Things aren’t much better at home – the majority of the US smartphone market is made up of pre-pay phones, putting the iPhone out of reach for many already. A cheaper alternative could settle the pot somewhat.

Calling a spade a spade

But this doesn’t necessarily mean the plan will be a success. Apple’s marketing department already dismissed a ‘cheap’ model earlier this year, though that is likely part of the company’s effort to not alienate its dedicated followers that look for a premium and specialist product to hold high. However, has anyone ever been able to have their cake and eat it? Apart from everyone. Because who gets cake then throws it away. But unless they call their iPhone 5Spade a cheap-ass phone, it’s unlikely to cut through the market in any significant way – particularly in China.

Apple will in no way acknowledge this game plan, instead emphasising options and getting the best technology into the hands of more people. But if that’s too many people – it could well lose its image as a status symbol.

The only game plan surely is to inform those that buy the S that it stands for Super Awesome, and then convince those same people that the C stands for ‘Cheap as Shit’. However, the C clearly stands as some kind of nod to China and its elusive mobile market. The Apple iPhone 5China: please buy our phone guys, we don’t want to go back to those dark days when we were poorer than the US government.

Follow Andy Price on Twitter.

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