Apple iPhone trade-ins may be on tap

CEO Tim Cook seems willing -- desperate? -- to get sales of the more lucrative latest models climbing faster.

By Jonathan Berr Jun 7, 2013 11:59AM
A person takes a photo of an Apple sign with an iPhone (© Lukas Barth/dapd/AP Photo)Products don't sell themselves, even cool ones such as Apple's (AAPL) iPhones.

According to Bloomberg News, the company plans to allow customers to trade in their old iPhones to upgrade to the latest iPhone 5 models. The reason is simple: Too many consumers are satisfied with their existing iPhones or aren't impressed enough with the iPhone 5 to ditch the models they own now. Bloomberg says the program will begin this month, but Apple declined to comment to the news service.

Apple sold a "record" 47.8 million iPhones in the most recent quarter, but it didn't provide a breakdown by type. Many analysts have said a good portion of those sales are for earlier, less expensive iPhones. Clearly, that's something Apple needs to change.

Apple has tapped Brightstar (STAR), which runs programs for AT&T (T) and T-Mobile, to run the exchange, which won't be cheap for Apple. As Bloomberg noted, AT&T pays as much as $200 for iPhone 4s and 4Ss that are in working order. Many are refurbished and sold overseas.

The move by CEO Tim Cook is significant and long overdue. About 11% of smartphone buyers use a trade-in, and Apple consumers, like everyone else, appreciate a good deal. They're also getting tougher to impress, which is worrying Wall Street. Apple shares have slumped by nearly 20% this year, missing the broader market's rebound as investors have grown increasingly concerned about slowing growth. Analysts are forecasting Apple sales in the current quarter of $35.2 billion, an increase of less than 1% year over year.

The trends aren't friendly to Apple. A recent analyst report from Canaccord Genuity shows Samsung has surpassed Apple in the U.S. smartphone market, thanks to the surging popularity of the Korean company's Galaxy S4.

Apple's real test won't come from the fanboys and fangirls who waited outside the company's stores to be the first to have the latest iPhone. It will come from average folks, who are perfectly content using a phone that may not have the newest technology but is more than adequate to meet their needs.

Though Cook has repeatedly assured the public that Apple still has plenty of cool products in development, the fact that the company is considering iPhone trade-ins indicates they may not be coming too soon.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jun 7, 2013 1:29PM

Trade in your old iphone for a new iphone, lol


Hey wait my new phone is the same one I just traded in.


Sell that garbage iphone on craigslist and get a Nokia Lumia.

Jun 7, 2013 7:55PM
Can you say APPLE and SUCKS in the same sentence... Sure you can.
Jun 7, 2013 1:31PM
It would be better if I could trade this piece of crap in for a different brand. What a frustrating disappointment.
Jun 7, 2013 7:53PM
APPLE........ Who really cares what you do you idiots, its what you don't do that counts against you.......IDIOTS.
Jun 7, 2013 1:36PM
Trade in program?  Up to $200?!?  I posted my 4S for sale on Craigslist.  I was asking $190. I had to take the ad down 15 minutes later because my phone and email was being over run by offers.  The top offer was $420.  The guy who actually showed up to buy it offered and paid $380.  
Jun 8, 2013 5:33PM
People are buying the older iPhone when the new one is out because the older one is only a dollar... Apple overcharges for everything.
Jun 7, 2013 1:28PM

Trade that horrible iPhone in for the better Windows 8 phone, such as the Nokia Lumina 925. Forget Apple completely forever!

Jun 7, 2013 2:34PM
Let's trade-in those Crappy iPhones for Samsung GS3 & GS4's hehe
Jun 7, 2013 2:32PM
I SMELL DESPERATION......& FEAR. Samsung must really be taking the market-share for Crapple be will to do something like this. LOL
Jun 9, 2013 1:14PM

How will Apple import all of those used worthless phones out of the US if the import ban doesn't get blocked -- you know the one where Apple got caught stealing (again) innovation from Samsung.


For a company that thinks they are the innovators of everything they pay a lot of royalties to Microsoft and a huge list of others. And they don't pay on a ton of patents they should be paying on. Didn't Apple make Siri? Oh wait they bought that app and the ruined it, lol! 


I guess as long as you pretend to invent something its yours in Apple's eyes. Too bad Apple will be going out of business in the next few years because they stole so many innovations that they haven't paid on in the last 5 years they will be getting billions of dollars in judgments and have even larger royalties to pay on new products. Plus the fines from antitrust suits in a few different countries including the price fixing on eBooks in the USA. Pretty low to try and raise the price of books just to make a few dollars. Apple doesn't want kids to read, they support childhood illiteracy :)


Before anyone cries that Samsung wasn't being fair and didn't license Apple the patents remember in court Apple said that Apple didn't use Samsung's patents and refused to pay Samsung so it was all Apple refusing to make a deal with Samsung. I never heard Apple say we did use Samsung's patent they just wouldn't charge us. I did hear then say we didn't use their patent over and over again.


And then there will be people calling Apple and American company and Samsung a foreign one but funny enough Samsung has factories in the US while Apple has zero and Apple hides 80% of its money outside of the USA and refuses to bring it over here going as low as to borrow money here while Samsung has a corp. in New York that they keep money in. So the lines of which one is really a USA business is a little blurred because it is looking like Samsung is more of a US business than Apple.


BTW I like Microsoft more than any of them before fanboys ro sheep followers start slinging some BS slander

Jun 7, 2013 1:49PM
Crap!  Apple stock made me a lot of money so far.  Once Steve Jobs died the talent for innovative ideas went with him.  I do agree with you all that the competition is better.
Jun 7, 2013 8:00PM
Samsung is giving Apple a Big Wegie so don't get Apple's new IPHONE 5s with the scratch n sniff feature.
Jun 7, 2013 12:50PM
Anybody think this loser company is on it's last breath? Apple... going down.
Jun 7, 2013 1:38PM
how about trade in i phone for galaxy !!
Jun 7, 2013 1:49PM
According to AT&T, they don't know anything about this promotion and are not offering the free trade in...I just checked.
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