Will Apple's iPhone Trade-In Program Turn Any Heads?


Apple Friday launched an iPhone trade-in program through Apple retail stores, just ahead of the expected Sept. 10 reveal of two new iPhones.

According to CNBC, Apple will accept previously owned iPhones that still power on. Depending on the condition of the smartphone, iPhone users could receive up to $280 toward a new iPhone model. Any customer taking advantage of the program must have or leave the retail store under contract.

Trade-in programs such as this are far from new to the smartphone market. According to the CNBC report, models as old as a 16-GB 3GS iPhone are worth up to $70 on Amazon. A 16-GB iPhone 5 carries a buy-back value north of $300 at retailers such as RadioShack, Best Buy and Amazon.

[Related: How To Manage Apple Devices]

Prior to the retail store buy-back option, Apple gave customers the chance to recycle Apple electronics in exchange for an Apple Store Gift Card equal to the value of the recycled item, a service the company still provides, according to its website. If the item is not reusable, Apple recycles it free of charge to the customer.

"From a marketing perspective, this is going to stir the pot," said Tom Narut, director of regional sales at Compsee, a Melbourne, Fla.-based solution provider. Narut said Apple's strategy is a "tease" but if customers are not impressed enough by the new product or discover they can earn more for their device elsewhere, Apple's ploy may not be effective.

"It will appeal to late adopters of the iPhone," Narut said. "It will dangle a carrot in front of them, cause them to inquire and maybe make a move."

Narut said customers that tend to keep a smartphone for three to four years are the ones most likely to be tempted by Apple's newest offer.

Ultimately, it is going to be up to Apple to intrigue its customers with new innovation, according to Narut. "When Steve Jobs came out with the iPhone, it was something substantially different. Now, basically everyone holding a [smartphone] has either an iPhone or a mimic of it."

Without something new and innovative, Narut said, Apple is not going to turn many heads with the trade-in program.

"What is going to make consumers and my business customers buy that new phone is not going to be about megapixels or screen size, it has to be something different," Narut said.

PUBLISHED AUG. 30, 2013