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Shocker: iPhone 5C sales starting to catch up to iPhone 5S (report)

Above: The culprit at the center of the newest Apple-Samsung trial.

Image Credit: Apple

When it was first released, Apple’s flashy flagship iPhone 5S outsold the cheaper plastic-bodied iPhone 5C by as much as 500 percent as early adopters rushed to get the latest and greatest. Now, that margin is down to just under 200 percent.

“About one month since the initial launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C, the 5C is steadily gaining traction as the ratio of active 5S’s to 5Cs in the U.S. is down by a factor of 1.9X,” a Localytics representative told me via e-mail this morning.

That’s surprising, because the big story this past week has been that Apple has been cutting production on the 5C and ramping it on the iPhone 5S. Probably the most credible sources say that 5C production was trimmed 35 percent while 5S production was boosted 75 percent, while others claimed 5C orders were cut in half.

That contrasts, however, with Localytics’ new numbers, which show 5C sales steadily increasing as a proportion of 5S sales every single week since launch.

US-5s-5c-ratio-chart-1024x510

“In recent weeks, the iPhone 5c has been written off by many pundits as too expensive to serve its primary purpose of acting as a bridgehead into emerging markets,” the company posted on its blog today. “Now, one month post-launch, the iPhone 5c has been steadily gaining traction. Currently, in the U.S. the ratio of active iPhone 5s to iPhone 5c in terms is down to 1.9x.”

That’s good news for Apple, although the company wins whether consumers choose its 5S or 5C, because it is validation that the “for the colorful” 5C is finding a market niche.

But there are a few flies still left in the ointment.

For one, it remains to be seen if the 5C’s positive momentum as a percentage of all iPhone sales has staying power. Clearly, with multiple models of colorful plastic 5C iPhones, Apple expected this model to outsell the 5S, not the reverse. The question remains: Will the ratio curve in the graph above continue to trend down?

The second problem is that, as Localytics highlights, this is currently a U.S.-only trend. Which means, of course, that the pundits — to date, at least — are right, and that the 5C is not cheap enough to attract significant numbers of new iPhone owners in developing markets. Because globally, the ratio is still higher than in the wealthy United States:

Global-5s-5c-ratio-chart-1024x509

That’s disappointing to those who wanted Apple to bring out a phone which would challenge some of the mid-range Android models in price and bring the cost of iOS down within at least closer reach for those who can’t afford $800 for a phone.

Localytics derives its data from its analytics solution for developers. Via its inclusion in 20,000-plus apps, the company’s software is on over one billion devices worldwide, it says, and processes over 50 billion data points each month.

More about the companies and people from this article:

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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