Apple Quiet On iPhone 5c Preorders

Sep 16, 2013 (06:09 AM EDT)

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iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
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Apple and its carrier partners began accepting preorders Friday for the iPhone 5c. The 5c is being offered by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the United States. Pricing starts at $99 for the 16-GB model and the 5c comes in a variety of colors. Apple has not yet said how many preorders it received over the weekend.

According to Apple's website, all five versions of the iPhone 5c are still available, though shipping times for some of the colors have slipped past the original Sept. 20 delivery day. By Friday evening, for example, the yellow model had slipped to Sept. 25. The red 16-GB model is also now shipping on Sept. 25. The green and blue models, however, have slipped to Oct. 4. There have been no sellouts as of yet.

The only indication of demand for the iPhone 5c and 5s comes from China. Bloomberg reported Monday that China Unicom received more than 100,000 orders for the 5c. China Unicom is that country's second-largest mobile network operator, behind China Mobile. At the moment, China Mobile does not have a distribution agreement with Apple.

[ Want to know how much that new iPhone will set you back? See iPhone 5c Preorders Start: Carrier Pricing Compared. ]

In years past, Apple published a press release after the first weekend of preorders with details on how many people signed up for a new iPhone. It has not yet done that. The lack of news from Apple will surely lead to speculation about demand for its new smartphone. There are a few things to remember here.

Apple is selling two new smartphones for the first time. The iPhone 5c, which is the lesser of the two models, comes in 10 variants (colors and storage options). Apple is not taking preorders for the iPhone 5s, which is the company's high-end smartphone. Both devices will be available in retail stores Sept. 20. Many iPhone buyers are likely tempted by the 5s, which has a better camera, processor and metallic (rather than plastic) design. Since it is not available for preorder, consumers will have to wait for the device to reach stores at the end of the week.

The lack of news from Apple doesn't necessarily portend poor sales of the iPhone 5c. The 5c (and 5s) are seeing the most ambitious launch ever from Apple. The 5c will be sold in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The fact that there is still availability of all the models, despite its simultaneous launch in 11 markets, speaks as much to the stock Apple has at its disposal as it does demand.

The real test will come Sept. 20, when both the iPhone 5s and 5c go on sale.