Apple is preparing to launch an iPhone trade-in program as early as next month, when the next version of its iconic device will hit the market, according to 9to5Mac. The offering will allow users who come into an Apple Store to exchange older iPhones for a new model at a discount.
Carriers, brick-and-mortar retailers and online vendors have long made money by accepting exchanged phones and selling them as refurbished products, as my colleague Kevin Tofel noted. And cut-rate refurbs should be particularly attractive in emerging markets where Apple has found some success selling older, unused models because new iPhones are often too expensive.
But there are two more big advantages to Apple’s trade-in program: It will surely boost traffic to the company’s retail sites, where users might opt to buy accessories or even a new Apple gadget. And it creates an addition point of customer contact for Apple, essentially stealing an opportunity for the carrier to deal with that user directly. That gives Apple a chance to boost its own brand and increase customer stickiness at the expense of the carrier.