With the iPhone 6 release date just around the corner, Apple has gotten some good news regarding its aging existing iPhone lineup. The iPhone 5S, a nine month old phone that some Apple-leaning buyers are certainly ignoring by now in favor of waiting for the iPhone 6 instead, is nonetheless still the number one selling smartphone nationwide and worldwide, outselling the three month old Samsung Galaxy S5. So what does this mean for Apple, its iPhone 6 ambitions and the timing of the iPhone 6 release date?
In short, it means Apple doesn’t have to be in quite as much of a hurry when it comes to the iPhone 6 as one might have thought. Counterpoint Research lists the iPhone 5S as not just the best selling smartphone in the United States, but also in the world. Part of that may be a result of Apple’s recent push into markets like China where the iPhone has traditionally been poorly distributed and thus a poor seller. But it means that despite the popular notion that an “S” model can’t have staying power due to the fact that it looks just like its predecessor, the iPhone 5S has turned out to have some serious legs, even with just months or even weeks left in its product cycle.
That’s very good news for Apple as it prepares to roll out an all new iPhone 6 with a larger screen and all-new design and styling. If Apple can get this far with a two year old iPhone design, it should be able to get much further with a fully redesigned model. However, the Counterpoint report does contain some distressing news for Apple, which it will have to factor into its iPhone 6 planning. Specifically, the iPhone 5C is hardly selling at all. It’s in fifth place behind the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4, and even behind the niche Galaxy Note. That means almost no one is buying the iPhone 5C, Apple’s foray into the budget plastic smartphone market. Whether it be the odd choice in colors, the strange “5C” name, or the fact that customers are simply upselling themselves to the more powerful 5S once they compare the two side by side, the bottom line is that the iPhone 5C is little more than a niche – and anything but a successful push into the budget market. When it comes to pushing the iPhone 5C out of the spotlight, the iPhone 6 release date can’t come fast enough.
Apple must now reassess how to handle the low end of its lineup, even with the iPhone 6 release date fast approaching. The most ambitious solution is to simply start the iPhone 6 at $99 subsidized, with an iPhone 6 Pro model available starting at $199. That could eat into margins, but would assure that even those unwilling to spend more than a hundred dollars on a phone aren’t boxed out of the iPhone market. In any case it’s an almost sure sign that there won’t be an iPhone 6C, or at least not one made of neon plastic colors that have failed to appeal to anyone over the age of thirty. Still, the fact that the iPhone 5S is still the number one smartphone worldwide, even as Apple prepares to kick it to the curb, suggests that the whole “Android is taking over” mantra might not be as accurate as the iPhone haters are hoping – particularly with the iPhone 6 now just around the corner in the mid August to early October 2014 range.