Report: Apple prepping iPhone trade-in program for September launch

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is preparing to launch an iPhone trade-in program in September that will let customers come into Apple retail stores and trade in older iPhone models to get credit for a new model, according to multiple reports.

According to TechCrunch and 9to5 Mac, Apple has been conducting limited pilot tests of the program in recent months in some of its retail stores. AllThingsD also reported that the program is coming soon; all of the reports cited unnamed sources familiar with the program.

The reports also come ahead of a rumored Sept. 10 event where Apple is expected to announce the latest iterations of the iPhone. It's unclear if the trade-in program will be announced in conjunction with that event. Such a program could spur wider sales of newer Apple iPhone models, depending on how it is structured.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many other online sites and third-party retailers have long offered iPhone trade-in programs, but Apple has never done so. According to 9to5 Mac, Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to increase iPhone sales at Apple's own stores. In June, Bloomberg reported that Apple was partnering with wireless device distributor Brightstar to establish an in-store iPhone trade-in program.

During Apple's last quarterly earnings conference call in late July, Cook declined to comment on the Bloomberg report, but said that he was not opposed to such a program. "I see [retail] channels doing it and I like the environmental aspect of it and so that part of it really is encouraging today," he said, according to Seeking Alpha transcript.

According to 9to5 Mac, the program will let customers bring older iPhones into Apple stores and  exchange them for a new iPhone model at a discounted price. TechCrunch reported that Apple retail employee will assess the condition of the iPhone and that values for traded-in iPhones can range widely, depending on multiple factors, including device color, physical damage and liquid damage. TechCrunch said the range could change but is rumored to be around $120-200 for 16 GB iPhone 4 and 4S models and $250 for a 16 GB iPhone 5 in good condition.

Although Apple has offered a recycling program for iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs, it has never offered customers a trade-in option where they can get the fair market value on the recycled equipment. However, online sites such as Gazelle, Glyde and NextWorth have established clear business models around trade-in programs for smartphones, and often resell the traded-in gadgets to customers in emerging markets.

For more:
- see this 9to5 Mac article
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Forbes article

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