Report: Apple will accept Android, BlackBerry smartphones in new iPhone trade-in program

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) will soon start accepting Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android smartphones as part of an iPhone trade-in program, according to multiple reports, in an effort to juice sales of its latest iPhones and cut into Android's market share.

The reports, from 9to5 Mac and Bloomberg, which cited unnamed sources, said the new trade-in program will also accept BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) phones. It's unclear exactly when the program will launch, but 9to5 Mac said that it will begin "in the coming weeks, following extensive training programs for retail store employees that will begin later this week."

Apple declined to comment, according to Bloomberg.

However, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in late January on the company's last earnings conference call that the "the current iPhone lineup experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years," according to Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks. He indicated that it could be a major opportunity for Apple and later added that, "given there are fair amount of Android units out there, there is also an enormous amount of Android customers that could switch."

According to research firm IDC, in the fourth quarter, Android saw its global smartphone market share decline year-over-year to 76.6 percent from 78.2 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, Apple boosted its market share to 19.7 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 17.5 percent. That was largely due to the strength of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In Late January Apple reported a blowout holiday quarter with record sales of 74.5 million iPhones, up from the 39.3 million it sold in the previous quarter and the 51 million it sold in the year-ago period. 

Meanwhile, 9to5 Mac reported that Apple will use a similar system to the one it uses to repurchase older iPhones, in which Apple Retail Store employees determine trade-in values for devices by considering how well they look and work. The report added that Apple employees will be able to transfer address book contacts from rival smartphones to news iPhones, but customers will need to save and move other data.

In mid-2013, Apple partnered with wireless device distributor Brightstar to establish an in-store iPhone trade-in program to let customers turn in older models and upgrade to newer iPhones. The program, called Reuse and Recycling, lets customers get a gift card to purchase other Apple products based on the monetary value of the phone they are trading in.

It's unclear if Apple will use Brightstar for the new program. Both Brightstar and Google declined to comment, according to Bloomberg.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this 9to5Mac article

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