The effort to manufacture and sell smartphones is a truly global effort. From design to sale, one can expect a smartphone to have already traveled halfway around the world, which in recent months, has been an impossibility for people, let alone smartphones.
Disruption to the mobile device industry due to COVID began where the virus began, in Asia. Not only did the virus cause factories and retail stores to close down, it coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, meaning factories were empty for an unexpected and extended period. And as countries and governments around the world shut down borders and enforced lockdown measures, the crucial supply chains that keep the mobile device industry ticking came to a halt.
We’re now at a stage where different countries are operating at varying degrees of ‘normal’, and in some regions, supply chains have restarted, and retail stores have opened. Apple began opening its stores again as soon as it could. And with its big 5G launch pending, it’s no surprise why.
But there seems to be plenty of speculation as to whether Apple will launch its 5G iPhones in September. So, what is driving the speculation, and will Apple be on track for its release?
To delay or not to delay
Despite some speculations that Apple’s latest iPhones will be delayed, Apple seems to be on track to deliver its first foray into the world of 5G. Releasing their 5G phones after other OEMs have done so is not new to Apple given their history with 3G and 4G LTE devices, however, the popularity of and the anticipation of a 5G iPhone is not to be doubted.
What’s more, despite initial fears over what the pandemic might spell for 5G, network rollouts continue as planned. Given the significance of 5G technology, countries and carriers are doing everything in their power to not delay its rollout. Let’s not forget that Apple too spends years planning its device launches. Although operations were severely disrupted by COVID, and the virus ignited some 5G related conspiracy theories, 5G is well and truly on track. Consumers are already buying 5G devices, and Apple’s launch of its devices will accelerate that consumer trend.
But of course, while COVID hasn’t impacted the development of the technology, we can’t forget the impact it has had on the economy. Many consumers have lost their jobs and have found themselves in financial difficulties. U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April, and although Apple is reopening stores, consumers are going to be cautious when it comes to the timing of buying bigger ticket items.
Trade-in programs to the rescue
According to industry analysts, Apple is rumored to release new iPhones that support both sub 6GHz and mmWave 5G networks in the fall of 2020. Encouraging customers to make the leap to 5G not only increases revenues from sale of mobile devices, but it also opens new 5G services to that subscriber and new services related revenue streams for the operators and OEMs.
And there is a way for operators, OEMs, and retailers to make these new devices affordable, especially during these financially challenging times—and that’s through the use of trade-in programs.
Many consumers are still unaware that their old devices are valuable, and that it could help them reduce the cost of a new device significantly. Operators, OEMs, and retailers should be advertising the availability of trade-in programs, especially ahead of the Apple launch, to incentivize customers to make the upgrade. Trade-in programs are an excellent way to “subsidize” the cost of new devices, help subscribers save money, and ensure that old devices are recycled and repurposed sustainably. Said differently, device trade-in programs help “recession proof” new device sales.
Industry leaders like Apple, Samsung, AT&T, Verizon, and others have increasingly encouraged customers to trade-in their old phones to help pay for their new purchases while simultaneously boosting their environmental credentials – Imagine its contribution to Apple’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025.
As operators, OEMs, and retailers try and find their feet post-COVID, trade-in programs are an excellent way to bolster device revenues and aid the road to recovery. We’ll have to wait and see as to when the first 5G iPhones are launched, but new devices from Apple later this year could provide the boost to revenues that are needed.
To learn more about mobile device trade-ins in Q1 2020, check out our infographic.