Last September, just before Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, CEO Tim Cook told The Wall Street Journal that the new pair of larger iPhones would mark "the mother of all upgrades." He also predicted that the phones would convince many Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android users to switch to the iPhone.
Cook was right. In the company's fiscal first quarter, iPhone unit sales soared 46% from the year-ago period. During the quarterly earnings call, the CEO said the new iPhone duo sparked the company's highest Android switch rate in the last three years.
Now, Apple might be preparing to make switching from Android to iOS more attractive than ever, spurring even more defectors from the Google operating system.
Bring us your Android device
In "the coming weeks," Apple will expand its recycling and trade-in program for smartphones beyond iPhones to include Android and BlackBerry devices, according to a new report from 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman. Gurman, who is well-connected with Apple sources and has an excellent track record for reporting rumors that prove true, said the new program is aimed at boosting iPhone sales.
This is Apple's second big move to woo Android users. The first came alongside Apple's latest iPhone launch, as the company posted a detailed guide on its website for moving content from an Android phone to the iPhone.
Users who participate in the existing iPhone trade-in program receive up to $175 applied to an Apple gift card, which can be used to purchase a new iPhone. Gurman said the trade-in program for non-Apple smartphones will work in a similar fashion.
With Apple lagging in the popular segment of smartphones with displays larger than 4 inches, its launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus was widely expected to drive Android customers toward the iPhone. Expanding its smartphone trade-in program to Android devices would make it even more compelling for users to switch to the iOS ecosystem.
Will stingy prices limit the program?
While Apple hasn't yet announced how much the company is willing to pay customers who trade in Android devices for iPhones, chances are the company won't be very generous in Android phone valuation. Even when it comes to the value Apple offers for iPhones, the company comes in well below other aftermarket smartphone buyers. For instance, device buyer Gazelle will payup to $225 for the same 64 GB unlocked iPhone 5s in excellent condition for which Apple will only pay $175.
Apple's trade-in program, therefore, is mostly limited to individuals who trade in their phone impulsively or simply want a quick and easy on-the-spot transaction.
But in spite of what are likely to be very low trade-in values for Android devices, the sheer number of Android users alone means an expanded Apple trade-in program for non-Apple smartphones could provide meaningful value to the tech giant. Globally, Android devices accounted for a whopping 77% of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter, according to IDC; iOS' share was just 20%.