Apple may be sitting on as many as three million unsold units of its little-loved iPhone 5c, according to reports from the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing industry.
The supply-chain sleuths at DigiTimes claim that around one million units of Cupertino's plasticky handset are sitting on telecom carriers' and distributors' shelves, while another two million are warehoused at the manufacturer, Pegatron Technology.
Demand for the iPhone 5c has not been as strong as the demand for its blinged-out brother, the iPhone 5s – or, for that matter, the older-generation iPhone 4s.
DigiTimes' sources pin most of the blame for that on the iPhone 5c's higher-than-expected price. When the plastic-shelled device was first announced, many analysts assumed it would be a bargain-basement mobe for developing markets. In fact, the cheapest iPhone 5c retails in the US for $549 without subsidies, which is hardly competitive with the glut of cheap Android phones.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended the high price tags of fruity mobes, saying Cupertino is "not in the junk business" and that it "never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone." Still, Apple reportedly reduced production of the iPhone 5c in advance of the 2013 holiday season and Foxconn quit building them altogether, suggesting that sales have been even worse than previously thought.
Meanwhile, Cupertino is said to be stepping up its efforts to address emerging markets such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia. But it's reportedly doing so by resuming production of the iPhone 4 at a lower price point, not trying to push the comparatively expensive iPhone 5c.
The fruity firm has also been on a hiring spree in Asia, according to The Wall Street Journal, which claims Apple has been snapping up engineers and supply-chain managers with the goal of accelerating its product development and bringing more devices to market, faster.
None of that sounds like it will do much to reduce Apple's existing inventory of the iPhone 5c, but it could help in one sense. If one of those forthcoming products is the much-rumored iPhone 6, it could finally give Cupertino an incentive to discount its older kit.
Given how unimpressed fanbois have generally been with the 5c, however, it's not presently clear whether Apple will be able to move them in large numbers at any price. ®