The efficiency of trickle-down economic theories is up for debate, but the blockbuster launch of the iPhone 5 seems to have paid off for at least one downstream electronics niche: used smartphone sales. Some initial numbers from two top electronic trade-in sites suggest that a staggering number of people are trading in their old smartphones for a trade up to the iPhone 5.
At SellCell.com, August's iPhone trade-ins were up a whopping 800 percent at the site compared to the same time last year, but while that's a strong indicator of overall demand, it's not exactly an Apple-to-oranges comparison; the iPhone 4S launched at the beginning of October 2011, not in September. Fortunately, SellCell did that math, too, and it reports that August trade-ins of the iPhone 4S are up nearly 450 percent over the iPhone 4's September 2011 levels.
Gazelle, another top electronics trade-in site, says that it saw a 1,550 percent increase in web traffic on Sept. 12 and presented more than half a million iPhone trade-in offers -- a 1,200 percent increase over the demand at last year's iPhone 4S launch. Those offers translated into a nearly five-fold increase in trades compared to last year's iPhone announcement.
"Perhaps fittingly, the iPhone 5 announcement seemed to be around 5x bigger than the 4S in just about every way," Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle, said via email.
Of the iPhones traded in, Gazelle reports that 57 percent were an iPhone 4, while 35 percent were an iPhone 4S. Interestingly, a full 85 percent of traded iPhones were AT&T models -- is that a bad omen for the only carrier that places restrictions on FaceTime video chatting?
SellCell.com reports seeing a large increase in trade-ins on the 12th as well, and the phones weren't clunkers, either: the company reports that the average sale price of a SellCell cell phone trade-in leaped to $124 on the day the iPhone 5 was announced, which is more than 1.5 times the $79 average for all phones sold on the site this year.
Maybe JP Morgan's claims of the iPhone 5 stimulating the economy aren't so far-fetched after all.