Apple’s rumored iPhone trade-in program could be launched in retail stores as soon as next month, according to 9to5Mac. The program will let customers avail discounts on the purchase of the newest iPhone by trading in an older iPhone.
Apple has already started pilot testing the program in select retail stores in Texas, and is scheduled to start formal training in all stores later this week. The training would last two hours, and is required to be completed by the first week of September. Stores have already started getting empty boxes, which will be used to ship the traded-in iPhones back to Apple. These handsets would then be refurbished and sold in emerging markets.
According to a Bloomberg report in June, Apple would be working with Brightstar Corp., a distributor that handles trade-ins for many U.S. carriers, to run the exchange program.
The trade-in program is part of Tim Cook’s broader efforts to increase the proportion of iPhones sold through Apple Stores, so that customers are exposed to other Apple products like iPads and Macs. Apple does have a similar recycling program even now, but it’s only available online, and not in Apple Stores.
With the iPhone 5S launching next month, it might make sense for Apple to launch the program around that time, but even if it launches before, it has the advantage of selling more iPhone 5 units, and clearing off inventory.
There are a number of companies like Gazelle and NextWorth that specialise in buying used or damaged iPhones in return for cash, which they later sell overseas at profit. We’ll have to see if Apple competes with these services on resale price.
Updated: Matthew Panzarino over at TechCrunch has the specifics of how the program would work:
A customer brings a working, non-liquid-damaged iPhone into an Apple Retail Store. It’s then evaluated by an employee with the help of an online site that a customer can access using the store’s iMacs or iPads. The customer then answers a series of questions about the condition of the device in order to determine a value.
Values can range depending on a variety of factors, including device color, physical damage and liquid damage. Though the prices could very well be tweaked before the program goes wide, the range is said to be around $120-200 for 16GB iPhone 4 and 4S models.
The money from the traded-in iPhone is added to a gift card, which is used for the new iPhone purchase. If there’s balance left, the customer gets to keep the card. Panzarino notes that the trade-in program is applicable only to customers who are in the store to buy a new phone, and not just to give away their old iPhone.