09/17/2013 11:07 am ET Updated Sep 17, 2013

The iPhone 5C Number Apple Doesn't Want You To Know

On Monday, Apple managed to make a bit of news by not announcing any. For the first time, the iPhone maker didn't reveal how many preorders were made on its new line of smartphones. The silence on orders for the iPhone 5C -- a week after it was announced -- has investors down on the tech giant.

Since 2010, Apple's media blitz for its new iPhone has gone like this: On a Friday following the big unveil event, people can begin preordering the new phone, The Verge points out. A few days later, Apple trumpets the high number of new iPhones the public wants. In 2010, more than 600,000 iPhone 4s were preordered in 24 hours. By the time the iPhone 5 was released two years later, that preorder figure was 2 million.

By creating the perception of scarcity, Apple's tactic worked to get some consumers off the fence about buying a new iPhone. But this year, Apple was mum about preorder numbers several days after iPhone 5C preorders went live. This didn't go unnoticed by Wall Street. With investors interpreting Apple's silence as weak initial 5C sales, Apple's stock slid to $450 on Monday from Friday's close of $465.

But circumstances may be a bit different this year. For one, Apple's top-line phone, the iPhone 5S, can't be preordered. If you want it the first day it's on sale, you have to wait in line -- creating yet another organic marketing tool for Apple. The company's top-line phone, with the new features like the fingerprint reader and desktop-like performance, should be the one with higher sales. As many others have pointed out, the iPhone 5C is essentially a rebranded iPhone 5 with nearly all the same specs. John Gruber, a well-regarded Apple observer, thinks it's a clever marketing move for Apple's second-tier phone:

It’s just that instead of putting the year-old iPhone 5 in slot #2, they’ve created the 5C to debut in that slot. The 5C is, effectively, an iPhone 5. Same A6, same camera, same just about everything — except for the most obvious difference, its array of colorful plastic shells ... What changes with the 5C is that the middle tier is suddenly more appealing, and has a brand of its own that Apple can promote apart from the flagship 5S.

With Android-run smartphones made by Samsung and Google cutting into Apple's market share, many see the global appetite for Apple smartphones waning. But preorder numbers for iPhone 5C, even if they are low, may not be the best indication.

For now, Apple will keep plugging away at the 5C. Here's a new one released on Monday:



iPhone 5C