Apple is reportedly set this month to launch an iPhone trade-in program aimed at encouraging customers to upgrade to the iPhone 5 and refurbishing used phones for sale in emerging markets, Bloomberg reports.
Sources with knowledge of the plans claim Apple has joined forces with Brightstar Corp. -- which handles trade-ins for carriers AT&T and T-Mobile, among others -- to helm the program, which will reportedly be available at Apple's brick-and-mortar stores. The plan, according to Bloomberg's sources, will be to let iPhone 4 or 4S owners exchange their devices for cash toward an iPhone 5 on-site. AT&T already offers up to $200 for operating iPhone 4s and 4Ss.
Trade-in programs like this help to supports sales of new products in mature markets like the U.S. and foster business elsewhere. Used, restored phones can be sold in emerging markets, where consumer demand for cheaper goods is higher.
A representative for Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.
A trade-in program would not only help Apple break into developing markets, but it would also retain the company's customer base as competition from competitor Samsung heightens, The Atlantic Wire notes.
A report from Canaccord Genuity, an investment research firm, says Samsung surpassed Apple in U.S. sales last month, boosted by the popularity of the the Galaxy S4. (The report, however, surveyed only carrier retail stores and not Apple retail stores, so the estimate may be off.) A report released last October -- one month after the iPhone 5 was released -- said iPhone user loyalty was declining.
Third-party companies like Gazelle and Glyde already offer buying options for those looking to upgrade their products. Gazelle, for instance, has built a $1 million business on Apple trade-ins, according to ABC News. Still, these contenders aren't worried about Apple getting in on the game.
“It appears that Apple will focus on in-store trade-ins at the time of a new purchase,” Israel Ganot, CEO of Gazelle, told Venture Beat. “Though there is room for many winners in what we see as a huge market, our approach is different. Gazelle is focused on offering the best online trade-in experience for those consumers who want to do so online and after they have bought a new device.”
Apple's next smartphone, rumored to be called the iPhone 5S, may be slated for a June release date.