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Why Parents Will Buy Their Kids the Cheap New iPhone

Kids: “I want a Samsung” Parents: “Shut up and take this yellow 5C”

Apple's introduction of the new iPhone 5C. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Apple's introduction of the new iPhone 5C. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Last week, Apple revealed the iPhone 5C. There’s been a lot of speculation about what the C stands for including “Color, China, Cheap, Choice, Cannibalization”. We should add “Children” to that list.

The 5C is a lower-priced model that doesn’t differ much from last year’s iPhone 5, except that it’s made from plastic and it comes in pretty colors like green, blue, yellow and pink. With a contract you can bag this phone for $99. A pink phone for $99? That sure suggests Apple is going after that elusive, coveted teen and pre-teen market. 

But as Forbes contributor Larissa Faw pointed out earlier this year, Apple may be in trouble there. “Ultimately, in the eyes of today’s youth, massive popularity has watered down Apple’s coolness,” Faw writes. “Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X ... but I don’t think they’re connecting with Millennial kids,” says Tina Wells of the youth-oriented Buzz Marketing Group.

Apple is probably betting that doesn’t matter. Parents are usually the ones who actually buy the phones, and Gen X parents have three priorities: Staying cool as they grow old, sharing their ideas of cool with their kids, and helicopter parenting. Per usual, Apple is hitting each of these Gen X sweet spots.

Today’s parents have complete assurance that they can introduce their kids to what’s cool. Witness the resurgence of products like My Little Pony and Transformers—shoddy 80s merchandise that parents are thrilled to push their younger children toward. And the chummy enabling continues when today's parents encourage — and bankroll — their kid’s first tattoo.

Not only do Gen X parents want their children to be as hip and happy with their smartphones as they are, they want to be constantly interacting with (and monitoring) their kids. The average parent isn’t confident they can move their CD collection from iTunes to an Android phone. They’re not going to relish the idea of handing their kid a device that doesn’t work in complete lockstep with their iPhone.

Do you think kids in your neighborhood will soon be filled with kids carrying these colorful phones? Let us know in the comments or on in a blog post!

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