It’s hard for the public not to roll its eyes at yet another Apple iPhone upgrade. The juggernaut brand is a PR master of that intersection between human desire and technological promise–a netherworld that offers the chance for elevated social status in the nerd universe of early adopters.
Throughout the years we’ve witnessed long lines of techie geeks, hipsters and wannabes sleeping in tents during sleet storms all for guaranteed access to the latest upgrade, even if the revamped version isn’t that different than the device currently buzzing in the pockets of their skinny jeans.
For outsiders, the upgrade game is wearisome and annoying because after a while it begins to feel less like a capitalistic scheme and more like a corporate scam. Seriously, does Apple expect everyone to simply hand over their current device in exchange for the latest version? Who has that kind of money, and time? Well, apparently, lots of people do. And Apple wants them in their stores.
So, as part of the new–excuse us, rumored, alleged, Loch Ness monster-meets-Sasquatch, UFO, mysterious, could this really be happening?–release of the yet another version of the iPhone, Apple is apparently testing a trade-in program. That’s right. It seems that recession we’ve all been hearing about has forced Apple to make upgrades a little more affordable, so the company is willing to meet consumers halfway, in Apple retail stores of course. Customers simply have to visit their local Apple store with their iPhone and faith that the brand has its best interest at heart.
It works very much like Antiques Road Show. You bring in your old Apple iPhone, a specially-trained Apple employee assess its value according to several damage metrics, and then Apple applies that assessed value to a gift card which you can use–only–toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Ok, so it works nothing like Antiques Road Show.
The fundamental rule of capitalism states the competition benefits the consumer, and by handing over your iPhone to Apple so they can turn around and resell it somewhere in Southeast Asia for a profit, doesn’t really benefit the consumer at all. The less Apple evaluates your current iPhone for, the more they stand to gain and you, the Apple customer, to lose.
Not surprisingly, many iPhone users are opting to sell their used iPhones on sites like eBay, where they are paid much better prices than Apple would ever offer them. It’s only a matter of time before those folks sleeping in tents in a sleetstorm figure this out. They’re cultural leaders after all. Well, wait a minute.