iPhone 5C rumored to be headed to the Island of Misfit Toys

If true, this would be Cook's first failure, a product killed off rather than obsoleted.

The iPhone 5C has taken quite a beating in the court of public opinion and the tech press. While not as bad as the treatment Windows 8 has taken, it suffered from the same type of public execution of a product: it was killed more for its looks than for any malfunctions or poor performance.

Now there are reports that Apple will end production of the poor-selling phone. Taiwan’s Industrial and Commercial Times says production of the 5C will start to wind down as soon as this coming January and cease all production by mid-2015.

This comes after a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last week which noted that production of the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 4S would cease in 2015.

Of course, it could merely be Apple trimming its trees, so to speak. Apple doesn't like to have a lot of models on the market. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the current generation, and the 5S is out there as the low-cost alternative. The iPhone 5C and iPhone 4S would merely be extraneous.

But there is no question the iPhone 5C was a bomb of a product, with reports of the iPhone 5S outselling it two-to-one. The 5C is basically an iPhone 5 with unappealing colored plastic cases. This didn't interest people, especially those who already had an iPhone 5.

Ken Segall, a former advertising executive with Apple's longtime ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day and later as a consultant, wrote about the failure of the iPhone 5C earlier in the year, affirming Jobs's maxim that "Apple doesn’t do cheap."

Apple, he said, decided to counter the claims that the 5C was cheap because it was plastic by embracing the fact the device had a plastic body with the "unapologetically plastic" slogan, despite the fact that Samsung's Galaxy phones were knocked for this very same attribute.

"Unfortunately for Apple, creativity can be a double-edged sword. The 'unapologetically plastic' line in the product video was so interesting and memorable, it got played back over and over in articles about the lackluster demand for iPhone 5c. Not exactly what Apple intended," he wrote.

Still, it's not like the 5C was an unmitigated disaster that crippled the whole product line (like Windows 8). The iPhone 6 is selling like hotcakes. Kuo estimates Apple will sell 71.5 million units in Q4 2014 and 49.4 million units in Q1 2015, which is typical for consumer devices. They spike during Christmas and then cool down in Q1, and those are tremendous sales numbers.

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