Apple Officially Launches iPhone Trade-In Program

It's been rumored for weeks and tested in some stores, but on Friday Apple officially launched its in-store trade in program for used iPhones. Under the program called "iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program," Apple will offer an in-store credit for used iPhones good towards the purchase of a new one.

Apple and its Big Pile of Money

Apple and its Big Pile of Money

CNBC broke the story, but Wired reported that Apple is working the program through BrightStar, a services company specializing in the mobile market. Apple Store retail employees will enter details about your iPhone into an Apple app on their iPhones and get a real-time quote fro BrightStar.

If you accept the deal, your iPhone will be wiped on the spot in front of you. If you don't like the price, no harm and no foul, and you're free to leave and take your iPhone with you.

9to5Mac noted that current prices—and realize that these prices will fluctuate according to market conditions—are thus:

  • $250-$253 value for a 16GB iPhone 5 in good condition.
  • $120-$140 for a GSM 8GB iPhone 4
  • $80 for the CDMA version of the same phone

Apple's program launches just a few weeks ahead of Apple's rumored launch of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. This gives Apple's retail staff time to get familiar with the program before being inundated with trade-in demand for the new devices.

One note: I've seen several pieces questioning whether or not Apple can be successful with this program considering the crowded space—Gazelle, Amazon, Verizon, AT&T, Best Buy, and many others offer similar services.

The problem is that those questions are idiotic. Apple is going to quickly become the biggest player in this market for two reasons.

The first is that we're talking about Apple, but the biggest reason is Apple's line of retail stores. Those retail stores see a ton of foot traffic already. On average, those customers will be far, far more comfortable trading in their iPhones in an Apple Store than they would be with any of the mail-centered operations.

No questions, no wondering, and no waiting. That's the makings of a solid customer experience.

This isn't to say that Gazelle can't continue to do well or that Amazon will be chased away, but Apple is going to do a very brisk business in these trade-in devices. More specifically, it will dwarf these competitors in little or no time.