When Apple talks, the world seems to listen. The tech giant’s annual September event never fails to capture massive attention because consumers, retailers and analysts can’t wait to see how Apple will top itself with its new products and services.
This year’s event caught our attention not so much for the new stuff… but for the old stuff: namely a new program which ensures that used iPhones don’t end up in a landfill.
Why is Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program Different?
Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program is a bold move toward reclaiming and recycling used devices. Apple will sell the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus with the option for customers to pay full price for a device over a 24-month period but, in turn, also be eligible to receive a new phone after only one year.
By requiring customers to give back their old iPhone when upgrading, Apple is embracing the reuse of those devices and essentially structurally mandating recycling.
Apple is also embracing the inherent value in those used devices as it is committing to forgive any remaining payment balances when the device is returned. This makes a bold statement about the aftermarket value for old phones, and will hopefully lead more people to recognize that a device will always have value and can be used by a secondary owner. The wider this message spreads...the more devices will be reclaimed and reused.
The plan is all about dollars and cents, but money, frankly, is what often motivates people to consider recycling. It may be structurally-mandated recycling but it works.
Consumers may not realize that a mobile trade-in program of retailers and wireless carriers make a significant difference in environmental stewardship.
For example, through the trade-in programs that HYLA Mobile helps manage for carriers and retailers, nearly 36 million used devices have been redistributed to people around the world. That means more than 16.3 million pounds of e-waste have been diverted from landfills since the company started in 2009.
Making a Big Difference
But not only do mobile trade-in programs promote sustainability – inching consumers toward a zero landfill commitment – they also foster economic opportunity, allowing millions to finally participate in the mobile economy.
Even a 10% mobile penetration can lift economic productivity by as much as 4.2% according to research. A functional secondhand mobile device can boost the productivity and quality of life of farmers and small business owners in developing countries and many others all over the world.
By changing the perception of used devices, consumers will realize the newest technology doesn’t make old technology obsolete. Used devices can help those in a developing country conduct business, arrange health care or serve as a means of communication with family. In developed economies like the U.S., consumers can continue to have access to lightly used devices that can be available at attractive prices, especially for those who do not crave the latest model.
Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program may indeed place the newest devices into the hands of many consumers after just a year’s wait, but it also incentivizes environmental protection and connects the remaining 65% of the planet that still lacks Internet access with mobile phones at an affordable price. For that, we applaud Apple.
In our next blog, we’ll look at how the sudden shift to upgrade programs and leasing programs by Apple and other wireless carriers illustrates that they’re confident there’s a strong market for secondary devices. They’re banking on it. We will also focus on ideas that mobile operators can bring forward to ensure that the customer loyalty remains with them rather than shift in favor of OEMs.
Share your thoughts on your service provider’s mobile device upgrade programs below.