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Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

World+dog shunning mid-market cellphone

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Apple has told its hardware makers to reduce iPhone 5C production for the fourth quarter – sparking concerns that demand for the handsets may be weaker than expected.

The 5C went on sale in September along with the high-end 5S, with both models hitting 11 markets – including the US and China – at once, for the first time.

The 5C is a plastic-clad phone that tries to occupy the middle ground. At $100 less than the 5S, it's cheaper, but not really cheap enough to be a budget model, a fact that may be affecting its adoption by fanbois and fangurlz.

Apple told its Taiwanese suppliers Pegatron and Foxconn that it was cutting shipments of the 5C, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The fruity firm told Pegatron, which supplies around two thirds of the phones, that orders would have less than 20 per cent shaved off, but it told Foxconn (aka Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.), which takes care of the rest, that its orders would be slashed by a third.

Another supplier that deals in the parts of the cheaper iPhone model was told that orders on 5C bits and pieces were going to be halved, which could signal a slowdown on the mobes for next year as well.

Analysts and investors have been pushing Apple to start looking at the lower end of the mobile market as growth in the high end smartphone business slows, but so far this version of a cheaper iPhone looks like a fail.

The company said it had sold nine million iPhone 5 mobes in total in its debut weekend, but it didn't break those sales down by model. Foxconn said that as well as cutting orders for the 5C, Cupertino said it would need more of the 5S models for the fourth quarter.

Apple's website says (at the time of writing) that new orders of the 5S will be delayed for weeks, indicating that the more expensive phone is outselling the slightly cheaper model. ®

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