Even if you spent the better part of your life without an iPhone, it’s pretty hard to imagine the pre-iPhone days. Can you believe we’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of Apple’s hallmark device?
Ten years of iPhones might mean different things for different people. But for us, iPhone's 10th anniversary is a chance to look back at the history of our mobile device trade-in industry.
You may not have realized it, but the iPhone has done more than act as a cash cow for Apple—it sparked an entire secondary market for smartphones.
As iPhones Go, So Goes the Secondary Market
If you’ve ever read one of our quarterly dives into mobile trade-in data, you know that Apple has a firm grasp on the secondary market. But if you look back a bit further, you’ll see that the iPhone trade-ins started the whole idea.
About two or three years after the iPhone 3G came to the world, carriers started rolling out the first iterations of special offers for mobile trade-ins. There was a realization that iPhones were excellent at retaining value and carriers had an opportunity to build a secondary market. And now, 10 years later, iPhones are just as good (if not better) at retaining value.
Even after 10 years, carriers face a challenge when trying to incentivize android and iPhone trade-ins. Despite the proliferation of programs like Verizon Edge and AT&T Next, customers aren’t thinking proactively about trading in devices. They still have the urge to throw an old phone in a drawer and forget about it.
With iPhone's 10th anniversary (and the many to come), customers will get closer to thinking of mobile devices as cars. You don’t save your old car in the driveway in case you wreck the new one—you trade in the old car and move to a new model.
However, customer mindsets aren’t the only things that evolve alongside the iPhone. Our own business at HYLA Mobile has changed significantly since the first iPhone and iPhone trade-in, and the Apple product continues to help drive our trade-in business forward.
From Recycling to Reuse—The Evolution of HYLA Alongside iPhone Trade-ins
We were one of the first companies to spark the trade-in market when we partnered with a carrier 9 years ago. However, even up until about 5 years ago, our business was less focused on fueling the secondary market and more on recycling devices.
The green initiative is still important for our business, but the build-quality of iPhones (and mobile devices in general) has caused a shift toward reuse as a focal point. Today’s iPhones are so well-made that they can often find second, third, and even fourth lives as consumers trade them in for new devices.
Now, a small percentage of the millions of devices we process are recycled and the vast majority are reused. Because of this change, our business has evolved to focus on the technology behind device trade-ins.
Rather than mining every device for precious metals, HYLA technology is built with device diagnostics and data about trade-in values in mind. And as we move beyond the 10th iPhone anniversary, this technology will evolve further to put more power in the hands of consumers. The easier we can make it for consumers to evaluate their own devices, the faster we’ll break the mindset that old devices should just sit in drawers and collect dust.
The iPhone 8 is going to bring a lot of value for carriers and trade-in programs. But more than that, it’s going to be an event that brings us back to the days when people lined up around buildings to get their hands on the new device. We’re just excited to see how the market changes as a result.
If you’re trying to get your trade-in program ready for the flood of devices when the new iPhone is released, download our free white paper, 15 Steps to Creating an Efficient Mobile Trade-in Program.
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