Apple's iPhone 5C Now $45 as Retailers Drop Prices
By Quentin Fottrell
It just got easier to make a profit by trading in an old iPhone--and still buy the latest model. Wal-Mart (WMT) and RadioShack (RSH) are dropping their prices for Apple's device to less than $50.
Both stores are cutting prices on the iPhone, which costs $99 from Apple (AAPL) with a two-year wireless contract or $ 549 without. Starting Saturday, RadioShack customers purchasing the iPhone 5C in-store will receive a $50 gift card that can be used toward their $99 iPhone 5C purchase, a spokesman for the company told MarketWatch. That offer ends Nov. 2. Starting Friday, however, Wal-Mart will also cut the price of the iPhone 5c from $79--a $20 discount on Apple's price-- to $45 throughout the holiday season, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman says. Both offers beat Best Buy's terms: It offers a $50 gift card on iPhone 5c purchases from Friday until Oct. 7.
Last month, CEO Tim Cook unveiled the seventh generation iPhone: The high-end iPhone 5S, which features fingerprint scanning technology and a glass screen similar to previous models, and the cheaper plastic iPhone 5C. The 5S costs $199 with a two-year wireless contract. It's now possible to sell an old iPhone 4S--which will eventually be phased out by Apple--and make a $150 profit by upgrading to the 5C; those who bought that model on its release will be coming to the end of their two-year contract this month. Of course, iPhone 5 holders who bought their phone last year still have one year left on their current contract.
Many Wall Street analysts were bemused that Apple's supposedly cheaper phone wasn't all that cheap. "We worry that Apple's inability/unwillingness to come out with a low-priced offering for emerging markets nearly ensures that the company will continue to be an overall share loser in the smartphone market until it chooses to address the low end," according to a note released by Sanford C. Bernstein shortly after the new iPhones were released last month. (A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.)
Despite these concerns about pricing and helped by the rollout of the new iOs7 operating system, Apple announced that it shipped 9 million iPhone 5S and 5C models in the first weekend alone--surprising some analysts given the relatively small upgrade. The figure was well more than the 5 to 6 million iPhone sales expected by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Many analysts, however, speculated that the 5c appears to be less popular than the 5S. Best Buy and, now, RadioShack and Wal-Mart are hoping to change that, says e-commerce consultant Bryan Eisenberg. The offers are not only targeting first-time Apple customers, he says, "They will drive sales of accessories in the stores."
-Write to Quentin Fottrell at qFottrell@marketwatch.com
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