One of the more interesting rumors that has sparked up ahead of Apple's September 10 press event for the next iPhone is the possibility of a new trade-in program, where consumers can bring their old iPhones into one of the company's retail stores and upgrade to a newer model.

Up until this week, the idea of a trade-in program should be taken with a giant grain of salt, but that appears to be changing. The popular Apple blog 9to5mac has uncovered some details about the program and what customers will need to do. Some basic takeaways from the article are:

  • The program is available when purchasing a new on-contact phone that is activated in the store.
  • The application will be part of the EasyPay mobile POS device.
  • The app will determine the value of the old phone.
  • Criteria for value include: display quality, button quality, overall hardware damage, engraving, liquid damage, and whether the device can be powered on and used normally.
  • Once trade-in is complete, customers have no access to the old phone.
  • Customers receive a gift card for the trade-in value that can only be used toward a new phone

The piece continues on to say that the old devices will be shipped and handled by BrightStar. The recycled iPhones will then be repurposed for use in the U.S. Customers will also be able to recycle phones that no longer work and have no trade-in value, in much the same way the company is already doing with iPods.

Why institute a trade-in program?

Many third party vendors are already doing a trade-in program and Apple has been reluctant to go this route in years past, so the question becomes, why now?

During the latest earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about these kinds of programs and mentioned their allure and that he was "not opposed" to rolling out such a strategy.

"I see channels doing it, and I like the environmental aspect of it, and so that part of it really is encouraging to me," he said.

With new devices coming out and the holiday shopping season right around the corner, this is the perfect time to try something that could help bolster sales. While the device is still immensely popular, Cook told employees during the call that the sales numbers are lower than they should be and 80 percent of the phones are sold through different outlets than Apple Retail.

The trade-in program should encourage customers to use the company as the place to buy and activate their latest gadgets. There are still many consumers who are unaware of what can be done inside an Apple Store when it comes to buying and activating a device.

This is also going to throw a curveball to the IT departments that are responsible for monitoring and managing these devices. The goal of the program is to increase sales, and if it is successful it means more customers will be walking through the doors following the launch of the new iPhone. To help answer this, businesses should partner with an IT consulting firm that specializes in Mac Integration and mobile devices that can make this transition easier.