updated 12:45 am EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
Owners of upgrade-eligible iPhones targeted in mass email about event
Those iPhone owners who have older models due or eligible for an upgrade may find a reason to move up during an "enormous" event being held later this week at Apple retail stores, according to reports. The promotion, apparently not connected to Apple's ongoing trade-in program, will be detailed in a bulletin to store management and workers tomorrow. Specifics have not yet been revealed, but qualifying owners will be emailed about the promotion.
The move is apparently the first from Apple's new senior VP of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, who started with the company last week after years as the CEO of fashion house Burberry. According to a source quoted by 9to5Mac, other promotions and sales initiatives will be launched over the summer as well, perhaps to stimulate sales of the current iPhone models as they approach the end of their expected product cycle.
If the rumor mill is to be believed, Apple will launch at least one new "iPhone 6" model with a slightly larger screen (4.7 inches versus the current 4-inch display), a new processor, and iOS 8 sometime this fall. While most current iPhones are expected to run the next version of iOS, sales of existing models traditionally wither as consumers begin anticipating new hardware. A good deal on early upgrade pricing might convince some older-model owners to jump to the iPhone 5c or 5s now, and still leave them free to upgrade to the "iPhone 7" in 2015.
Which carriers might partner with Apple on the promotion -- or whether it will extend outside of the US -- remains unknown. The company is also very keen on bumping up in-store sales internationally, particularly in developing markets. Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously mentioned that he wants to see more iPhone sales coming from Apple retail stores rather than carrier outlets -- likely because carrier store employees are often given pay incentives to promote rival brands.
The company's iPhone sales have remained unusually healthy in the post-holiday quarter, in part due to strong sales of the iPhone 4S as an entry-level phone in Asia-Pacific markets, including China. Apple even continues to sell some remaining stock of the iPhone 4 in countries such as India to spur marketshare, and the strategy appears to be working -- overall, Apple sold an astonishing 43.5 million iPhones in the company's fiscal Q2, shattering analysts' expectations and setting an all-time Q2 record. Cook reported that iPhone sales in most developing markets increased last quarter in double-digits, with some (such as Vietnam) increasing in triple-digit scores.