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Apple to accept Android trade-ins, tipster says

A visitor uses an Apple iPhone to photograph

A visitor uses an Apple iPhone to photograph the Samsung Galaxy 5 on March 2, 2015, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The stakes for the two companies are high, and now, according to a tipster, Apple may start taking Android products as trade-ins. Credit: EPA / Alberto Estevez

Apple Inc. plans to start accepting non-Apple devices as trade-ins, a person with knowledge of the matter said, as the company seeks to extend market-share gains against smartphones based on Google Inc.'s Android software.

The iPhone maker started a trade-in program in 2013 to get more users to upgrade to its newest products. Now, that plan is being expanded to include Android smartphones, as well as BlackBerry devices, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public.

Apple is seeking to fuel even more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales after selling 74.5 million units in the last three months of 2014, up 46 percent from a year earlier. Thanks to record sales, shipments of devices based on Apple's mobile iOS software surpassed Android in the United States, according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech, with 47.7 percent of the market compared with Android's 47.6 percent.

Teresa Brewer, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment on the new trade-program, which was first reported by the website 9to5Mac.


Apple had more Android "switchers" in the past quarter compared with any period in at least three years, chief executive Tim Cook said on the latest earnings call.

Apple's current iPhone trade-in program is a partnership with Brightstar Corp., which resells the devices to overseas customers for a profit. It's not clear whether the new Android trade-in program will include Brightstar. Erik Hofmeyer, a spokesman for Miami-based Brightstar, declined to comment.

Elizabeth Markman, a spokeswoman for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment.


While Android phones don't hold their value as well as iPhones, it still makes sense for Apple Stores to accept them, according to Israel Ganot, former CEO of Gazelle Inc., an online mobile device trade-in company.

"Apple can afford to pay more than the market value to get you to switch over, on the idea that you're going to fall in love with the iOS ecosystem and stay for a long time," Ganot said in an interview.

If Apple Stores start accepting Android-based Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones before the company's new high-end Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale next month, "it's going to make a lot of Galaxy S5 users think twice" about upgrading, Ganot said.

Samsung's new devices are set to debut in 20 countries starting April 10.


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