Trade-in programs for the iPhone aren't exactly new. But they seem to be catching on -- and it appears Apple may be taking notice.
T-Mobile made major waves in April when it sold 500,000 iPhones in a few weeks, spurred in part by an promotion that invited iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users to get an iPhone 5 for zero down and monthly payments by trading up.
Apple so far hasn't engaged in these types of promotions but rumors suggest that may soon change. In a move to drive massive upgrades, Apple is reportedly planning to launch an iPhone trade-in program all its own at its Sept. 10 event.
"As I've noted before, Apple CEO Tim Cook is eager to increase the number of iPhone sales made through the company's own stores," said John Paczkowsi at AllThingsD, as he weighed in with his gut instinct. "An iPhone trade-in program is a smart way of doing that, driving more sales from upgrade-ineligible consumers looking to buy the latest iPhone and increasing foot traffic to Apple Stores in the process."
Is This Innovation?
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, a telecom analyst in Atlanta, to get his take on the rumored iPhone trade-in program. He told us something we should know all too well by now: In the weeks leading up to any Apple major announcement rumors always run wild. Some turn out to be true, but most are not.
"I think we are all expecting to see two iPhones this year -- one a standard size and one larger. That would be a good move for customers who want a larger device. It will keep them in the fold," Kagan said. "We can expect to see a new iOS operating system. Anything else is all speculation at this point."
That said, Kagan does expect to see several announcements from Apple as it works hard to reboot its image in the wake of board demands for more innovation. Although Apple is still growing, the company isn't keeping the fervent pace it enjoyed under the late Steve Jobs. That, Kagan said, means Apple CEO Tim Cook needs to find ways to help the company adapt and introduce new products and services into the mix.
Trade-In Program a Good Bet
"This iPhone trade-in program sounds like a good bet. This is similar to what was announced a couple weeks ago by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint," Kagan said. "It gives the customer the chance to update their devices once a year rather than once every two years."
Of course, even if the iPhone trade-in program becomes an Apple reality we still don't know what the rules would be. One thing is certain: There is no lack of older iPhones on the market and no lack of consumers who would want to update to newer models.
Why haven't they updated yet? Kagan said that's another question, seeing that carriers do have update plans every year or two when their contracts come up for renewal.
"This would be a smart move, but this is not an earth shaker. This may be one of many similar and smaller moves," Kagan said. "Is there an important and large move that we are not aware of coming? We'll have to stay tuned to see."