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Friday, August 30, 2013

Apple Expands iPhone Trade-In Program to Its Stores

Apple is trying to give people another reason to come to its elegant retail stores: Trading in old iPhones for a store credit toward a new phone.

Apple has offered a trade-in program for years through its Web site, but on Friday the company confirmed it would begin accepting older iPhones in its brick-and-mortar stores.

“IPhones hold great value,” said Amy Bessette, an Apple spokeswoman. “So, Apple retail stores are launching a new program to assist customers who wish to bring in their previous-generation iPhone for reuse or recycling. In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone.”

Apple has teamed up with Brightstar, a company that buys and resells used electronics, to handle the trade-in program.

Ms. Bessette declined to say how much money customers could get for their used iPhones. But on Apple’s Web site, a used iPhone 5 in good condition, with 16 gigabytes of storage and accessories included, goes for $336.

The trade-in program serves to benefit Apple not just by keeping iPhone customers loyal: It gives people an incentive to buy an iPhone straight from an Apple store, instead of other outlets like an AT&T and T-Mobile US store or even a Best Buy. Those stores also offer trade-in programs.

Why bother luring people to the Apple stores? Along with a new iPhone, customers might want to pick up other Apple products. Apple’s retail employees could also persuade customers to pay for its Apple Care warranty program for protecting against damage, competing with Best Buy’s warranty program for iPhones.

What remains to be seen is how Apple will implement the trade-in program without harming the experience of shopping at an Apple store. The company is famous for attracting long lines to its stores whenever a new iPhone is released. If employees have to evaluate older iPhones that are being traded in, it could slow down the lines, driving people to other stores.