updated 10:52 pm EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Older models being traded in hints at strong wave of new-model upgraders
Online trade-in site Gazelle has reported that iPad trade-ins for cash jumped 175 percent over normal on the weekend of Black Friday, a certain indicator that Apple CEO Tim Cook's prediction that it would be an "iPad Christmas" is likely to come true. The Apple tablet, which continues to dominate the category three and a half years after its introduction, has also topped holiday wish list compilations and has seen some constrained supplies of the two latest models, particularly the Retina iPad mini.
The company also reported that iPhone trade-ins had also jumped even higher, up 177 percent over last year. Apple of course refreshed the iPhone line as well with two new models; the colorful iPhone 5c which replaces the previous iPhone 5; and the advanced iPhone 5s, which offers a 64-bit architecture for the first time in a smartphone, as well as advanced camera technology. The latter model has until recently been very constrained as demand outstripped supply, but the situation has normalized over the last two weeks.
Customers who use Gazelle's services trade-in working older models for either cash or gift cards, and generally use them to upgrade to the latest models. This is also true for Android users; Gazelle says trade-ins of Samsung phones are also up 177 percent from last year, though there is some evidence that Samsung users are a bit more prone to change brands when trading in, either to Apple or Windows Phone or some other model of Android. By contrast, iPad and iPhone traders are far less likely to do so.
In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Gazelle CEO Israel Ganot said that the company was seeing a pretty even mix of third- and fourth-generation full-size iPads, as well as last year's first-generation iPad mini. Overall traffic to the site was up nearly 75 percent year-over-year as well, he added. Wall Street and Apple itself had already expected a record-busting year for iOS devices overall, but the more recent November release of new iPads -- backed up by enthusiastic reviews and response to the lighter, thinner and yet more powerful devices that retained their trademark long battery life -- suggests that the iPad category will also continue setting records on its own.