Apple Tries Its Hand at Discounts, Refurbs
Apple has invested much of its resources into maintaining its status as a seller of premium products, so why would it suddenly start offering discounts and selling refurbished items on eBay? "Apple recognizes that there is a buck or two to be made in this aftermarket and has taken the matter into its own hands to maximize takings," said e-commerce consultant Rob Abdul. "This is a multichannel strategy by Apple."
This Friday marks the unofficial kickoff of the holiday season, as many stores open early to offer some of the best deals of the season, and this year, Apple is getting in on the fun.
Discounts are unusual for Apple, but it teased the Black Friday deals that only will be available Nov. 23, both online and in its retail stores. It did not say which products specifically would be discounted, or by how much. Last year, customers could save about US$40-60 on iPads and up to $101 on some laptop and desktop computers.
Apple also debuted its own eBay Apple store this week, full of refurbished goods, just in time for the busy shopping season.
Broken or touched up iPods, MacBooks and iPads have long been made available by third-party sellers on the discount online retail site, but this new Web storefront is run by Apple itself, 9 to 5 Mac reported.
The Apple products available for sale are given a tuneup that restores them to like-new condition, repackaged and sent through a quality inspection by Apple, according to the store page. They also come with a 14-day return policy.
Our Products, Our Profit
Apple is more widely known as an elite brand that can get away with slapping a premium price tag on its products, said e-commerce consultant Rob Abdul. So, it's a wise move by the company to acknowledge that its customers want the Apple-branded, quality products at a lower price, even if they are a generation behind.
"I think it is a very smart move that Apple has opened an eBay store," he told the E-Commerce Times. "After many years of manufacturing and multiple product lines such as the iPod, iPod nano, iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc., there now is an increasingly growing secondhand, refurbished market of Apple products. With the global markets recovering from an economic slowdown and austerity measures, disposable incomes are tight, however the desirability and appeal of the Apple brand remains sky-high."
Third-party sellers have already cornered that market on sites such as eBay and Amazon, so it's no surprise the company notorious for taking control would want in on the profits, too, Abdul noted.
"Apple recognizes that there is a buck or two to be made in this aftermarket and has taken the matter into its own hands to maximize takings," he pointed out. "This is a multichannel strategy by Apple."
Talking With Friends?
Old patent battles continue to plague the company. The U.S. International Trade Commission announced this week that it would review a decision that Apple had not violated a handful of Samsung patents pertaining to wireless technology and data transmission when it made its popular mobile devices.
The ITC made its preliminary decision about the case earlier this year, but decided to review the case rather than uphold the judge's decision. The court is expected to decide in January whether or not to overturn the ruling, which could possibly cause some of Apple's mobile devices to be banned for sale in the U.S.
The battle is part of the larger, worldwide patent battle between the two, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing. Apple might be reaching out to lessen the battle between one of its other chief rivals, however, as it agreed to explore arbitration options in its cases with Google's Motorola Mobility. The two industry leaders are in a court battle over standard-essential patents, with Apple arguing that Motorola was misusing those and claiming unfair royalties.
Earlier this month, Motorola raised the possibility of arbitration, and Apple said this week in a court filing it would be open to discussing the dispute between the two companies. They might not become fast friends or even work out a licensing deal, but the willingness to arbitrate could be a sign that the major players in the tech industry are sick of waging global patent battles, said Roman Tsibulevskiy, patent attorney at Goldstein Law Offices.
"I think the potential arbitration agreement means that some important people inside those companies currently believe that this patent war is unduly long, costly and tiresome without tangible material results," he told MacNewsWorld. "These may be signs that more practical view may be prevailing. Money spent on these wars is not spent on innovating but on trying to legally out maneuver each other. Perhaps with stock market down, some executives just want this to end to direct the money for something more productive."
Of course, that doesn't mean the company is giving up on making legal gains, he pointed out.
"From Apple's point of view, it may be that Apple is slowly ending these massive patent fights to focus more on Samsung," Tsibulevskiy noted, "since once Google's Motorola is taken care of, I think only Samsung remains."
Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.