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In case you had any doubts that Apple is trying to adjust itself to the changing smartphone market, consider this--Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may soon start accepting trade-ins for iPhone 4 and 4s units at its retail locations in an attempt to get users to upgrade to the newer models. The actual trade-in program will allegedly be run by Brightstar Corp, which already handles trade-ins for T-Mobile and AT&T.
According to Bloomberg's anonymous sources, the shift in policy is partially aimed at helping Apple gain a foothold in developing countries, where Google's Android operating system currently dominates. In Bloomberg's words, "Used iPhones collected in the U.S. will only be resold in emerging markets, where Apple’s share is lower and demand for cheap devices is greater, said one of the people. That way, the resale of Apple’s older models won’t cannibalize iPhone 5 sales in the U.S., the person said."
As Bloomberg notes, Apple has supported a web-based recycling service run by PowerOn since 2011, but this marks the first time that it's embraced the policy openly at the retail stores. With Brightstar's service, customers will be able to trade in their phones and receive cash immediately without the hassle of having to ship them in and wait on PowerOn's gift cards.
Importantly, Apple has always downplayed PowerOn's service, leaving its customers to hunt for it on the website. Allowing trade-ins in the stores themselves likely will result in much greater visibility and more consumers taking advantage of the opportunity.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.