The gold iPhone 5s is already a sellout sales hit, with metrics from Localytics showing that the colorful new companion iPhone 5c model, which was a bit slow out of the blocks sales-wise, is also beginning to hit its stride. Localytics Bernd Leger reports that on September 22, the iPhone 5s was outpacing the 5c by a factor of 3.4x. But as of September 26, the 5c was gaining ground and the ratio had decreased to 2.9x.
The iPhone 5c, which is essentially an iPhone 5’s innards enclosed in a polycarbonate plastic housing instead of aluminum and glass, is available in bright fluorescent pastel shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue, plus white, and sells for a hundred bucks less than the 5s.
Apple is of course no stranger to brightly colored hardware. They kicked over the traces of beige (or occasionally black) computer enclosure convention back in 1998 with the original teardrop iMac G3, originally offered in two-tone white and “Bondi Blue” (a sort of aqua/teal) named after Australia’s famous beach.
With the iMac’s first revision in 1999 came fruit color iMacs in Blueberry, Tangerine, Strawberry, Lime (my personal favorite) and Grape.
The next iMac generation switched to an entirely different set of more subdued Earth Tones colors — sage, indigo, ruby, graphite, and snow — the latter proving to be a bellwether of future Apple color livery convention.
In 2001, Apple had an uncharacteristic lapse into aesthetic bad taste when it replaced the classy-looking earth tones sage, ruby and snow colors with two new silkscreened graphic themes: “Blue Dalmatian” and “Flower Power” – the former giving the impression that a Snow iMac had developed an unpleasant skin disease, and the latter a an unfortunate homage to hippie-era psychedelic aesthetics. Both were mercifully short-lived and replaced by my favorite iMac form factor of all time — the “Luxo Jr.” iMac G4, whose hemispherical CPU housing came only in white.
In the portable context, Apple’s first colored computer product actually wasn’t a Mac, but the 1997 eMate 300, an oddly-styled translucent green clamshell portable that ran Apple’s Newton PDA operating system, was sold only through Apple’s education channels, and was something of a forerunner for Apple’s iOS iDevice revolution.
The original 1999 iBook laptops also came in a smaller selection of two-tone colors than the contemporaneous iMacs — white with initially Blueberry and Tangerine; later Graphite, Indigo, and Lime — the latter the rarest and most exclusive variant that was sold only through the Apple online Store. And that, regrettably, was the last of colorful Apple hardware, with the exception of various colorful iPod models over the years. The second generation iBooks came only in white, as did the contemporaneous desktop iMacs and eMacs. The Intel MacBooks that succeeded the iBook were also mostly white, with a black alternative offered at a price premium. Since 2001, Apple’s professional series PowerBooks and MacBook Pros, have all had metal enclosures, while desktops have been various combinations of anodized aluminum and white polycarbonate.
iPhones and iPads had up to September 20 only ever been offered in black or white, but more color choice is back with the iPhone 5s and 5c, and hopefully soon with the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2, as well, although don’t expect any iPad models to be available in any of the iPhone 5c colors except for white. I’m anticipating that both iPads will however be offered in the iPhone 5s’s hot-selling Gold and more subdued Space Gray options, along with more additional white. I hope so avowal. I don’t dislike black, white, and aluminum enclosure livery, but I also appreciate a little color in life.
I’m quite partial to the 5s’s new “Gold” color livery, and so apparently are many others, with Gold the first of the initial tranche of iPhone stock to sell out, and shaping up to be the most popular iPhone 5s color option.
If the rumor mills are accurate, it will be interesting to see how the expanded palette plays out in iPad sales. Tapscape’s Ronald Carlson reported in September that rumors claim that the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 will indeed be available in the same Gold, White and Space Gray color options as the iPhone 5s, based of leaked reports that iPad replacement parts in Gold, White and Space Gray are showing up in Apple’s Asian supply chain, and photos of bags of what are alleged to be iPad 5 and iPad mini case components in three different colors.
9To5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy says that French site NWE, which has a photo of what it believes to be a Space Gray casing for the iPad mini, has a decent track-record in leaked parts report accuracy, and that it seems likely that Apple would adopt the same colors for the new iPads as for the iPhone 5s. Here’s hoping.
Apple enthuses that color is intended to permeate the entire iPhone 5c user experience, from the way it looks to the way it works, and it appears that the five colors chosen were picked to harmonize with the new iOS 7 color theme.
So what does a preference for one or another iPhone color say about the user? Back in the colored iMac era, Pantone Color Institute’s then executive director, Leatrice Eiseman analyzed how each of the iMac’s five “fruit flavor” colors corresponded to a particular personality profile.
According to Ms. Eiseman, which color a person might choose reveals a great deal about their personality, and some of her comments about the iMac fruit colors can also be applied to iPhone 5c colors.
Blue signifies constancy and truth and is the favorite color of 35% of the U.S. population — tender, soothing, cool, passive, secure and comfortable, inspiring calm, confidence and harmony, a sense of control and responsibility. Blue appeals to people who value credibility, authority, the basics, classicism, conservatism, strength, dependability, traditionalism, confidence, professionalism, sensitivity to others, trust and honor, responsibility, and who tend to have a perfectionist streak.
Ms. Eisemann didn’t comment directly about pink, but pink is the pastel version of red, which signifies power and strength; excitement; dynamism; danger and sex. Those who prefer red value intensity, passion, drama, energy, aggressiveness, daring, achievement, impulsiveness, challenge, competition, excitement, optimism, assertiveness, new things and new experiences. “Red people” are born leaders crave attention and hate the routine and humdrum.
Lime is to green as pink is to red, and green (Emerald Green is incidentally Pantone’s color of the year for 2013) signifies nature and pleasure, refreshment, growth, coolness, regeneration and renewal of life. People who chose lime iPhones are likely to be cool, calm, and collected, valuing stability and balance, good citizenship, neighborliness, organization, conformity. “‘Green people’ are intelligent and understand new concepts, and although they are more inclined to do what is popular and conventional rather than take risk with something new,” according to Ms. Eiseman.9
Ms. Eisemann didn’t address the colors white, or yellow that analysis back in 1999, but in an article entitled “Your Favorite Color: What it Says About You,” Care 2’s Annie B. Bond, referencing “The Healing Power of Color” by Betty Wood (Inner Traditions, 1998), says pink embodies the gentler qualities of Red, symbolizing love and affection but without passion. “Pink people” desire protection, special treatment and a sheltered life, require affection and like to feel loved and secure, perhaps wanting to appear delicate and fragile. Pink people tend to be charming and gentle, if a trifle indefinite.
Ms. Bond says that yellow, according to Ms. Wood, is the color of happiness, wisdom and imagination, chosen by the mentally adventurous, who search for novelty and self-fulfillment, usually have a sunny and shrewd personality, with good business instincts and a strong sense of humor. Yellow, she says, is the color of intellectuality and mental acuity, “yellow people” are typically clear and precise thinkers, confident of their own mental capacities and possessing lofty ideals, although they may also at times tend to shun responsibility, preferring freedom of thought and action.
White is symbolic of purity, innocence and naiveté, with strong connotations of youth and purity, and Ms. Wood says that if you are an older person, your preference for white could indicate a desire for perfection and impossible ideals, maybe an attempt to recapture lost youth and freshness. It may also symbolize a desire for simplicity or the simple life.
As for those Gold iPhone 5cs, according to Taoist philosophy, which has quite a bit to say about color and aesthetic preferences, “metal people” are fastidious, firm, and rigid perfectionists; strong, determined and discriminating masters of form and function who admire precise definition, structure, and discipline, as well as virtue, discretion, and authority. They tend to be controlling, ambitious, and forceful, with their central desire being to live according to reason and principle, and impatient with vagueness and intuition, self-reliant and inclined to handle their problems alone. The “metal person” holds both self and others to the highest of standards, is often materialistic, business oriented, and good at organization and stability, but “metal” folks also have a weakness for aesthetic beauty, pomp and ceremony, form and order, and refinement. Metal’s negative characteristics include tendencies to indifference and inhibition, and the metal person can easily become autocratic, gratuitously strict, persnickety, unnecessarily formal, distant and unnatural, and must guard against self-righteousness.
In that analytic context, the late Steve Jobs’s partiality for metal system enclosures and even metal appearance themes for Apple software becomes quite explicable. Space Gray? Ms. Wood says Gray is the color of caution and compromise, and that those who prefer Grays search for composure and peace and will often work hard without reward. She notes that older Gray-fanciers prefer life to run on an even keel with few ups and downs, while younger Grays may be withdrawing from life and suppressing their personalities. Grays often have good business ability, but tend to work too much.
Personally, my color preferences are heavily dependent on context. Blue is probably overall my default favorite color in general, but I’ve never been smitten with any of the shades of blue Apple has used for various devices over the years, and the uber-bright pastel blue iPhone 5c color does not appeal to me. Of the current options, the Gold 5c would be my pick, although it’s not a color I would pick for a car. I like white in many applications, and my current iPad is white. I ordered my current truck, a 2011 Ford Ranger, in black (which Ms. Wood categorizes as “dignified and impressive without being showy, noting that people who prefer black want to give the appearance of mystery, but that preference may also indicate a suppression of desires and worldly aims, suggesting hidden depths and inner longings. Hmmmm.
However of the limited range of color options that were offered for that vehicle, white would’ve been my second choice. I like black laptops, but black smartphones and tablets not so much. In general for car colors I lean to dark shades, like the “Wedgewood Blue” metallic of my big 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis, but also deep maroons and browns. However, I’m also fond of a lighter shade of azure blue that has graced several cars I’ve owned over the years, including a 1967 full-size Canadian Pontiac Parisienne, a 1979 Chrysler Cordoba, and most recently a 1990 Toyota Camry. Come to think of it, any of those colors would look pretty cool on a laptop or idevice!
(Device Photos Courtesy Apple)