The longer view

We have two iPhones in our family. Yesterday we traded in the older one — my wife’s first-generation model, bought in 2007 — at Radio Shack. They gave us $72.94 for the phone and charger, against $199 for a new 16Gb iPhone 4. We’ll probably trade our other iPhone, my second-generation 3g one, pretty soon too.

Apple doesn’t have the same offer. I’m not sure who else does. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t stopped in a Radio Shack to buy an ethernet cable a few days ago, when the kid behind the counter told me about it. Turns out Radio Shack will take a lot of stuff in trade. Since my iPhone 3g is brand new (I replaced it at an Apple store last month for $79, before I knew about this deal), I can get $116.13 for it, according to the online appraisal system at that last link.

Yes, it bothers me that we’re staying inside Apple and AT&T’s joint silo. It also bothers me that Fake Steve Jobs is right about Android fragmentation. I also see a serious risk that Real Steve Jobs might succeed at repositioning closed systems as “integrated”. Just because, well, he’s Steve. We’re all in his reality distortion field now.

Speaking of which, Apple is now bigger than Microsoft, and the iPhone is now bigger than Rim.

I still see this as a phase, and not a bad one. Apple and Google have together cracked open the unholy death grip that phone makers and carriers have long had on the mobile world. At some point those two halves will come completely apart.

Until they do, we won’t have ambient connectivity, or what I call the Frankston Threshold.

But we’ll get there. It’s inevitable.

[Later…] If you do trade in an old iPhone, be sure to erase it before handing it over. Do that under Settings/General/Reset/Erase all content and settings.

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  1. Flip’s avatar

    You got ripped off.

    Old iPhones are worth a lot more than $72.95

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Not one as beat-up as this unit. Radio shack has different trade-in values for used phones, based on condition. This one was limping along with a beat-up case and a bad screen for more than a year, and the audio failed just a few minutes earlier. At first the guy behind the counter wanted to give us the minimal trade-in value. But we got him to admit that all the phones traded in just get recycled anyway. We also said we wouldn’t accept the deal. So he gave us the higher trade-in value. Truth is, I wouldn’t pay a dime for the thing, and I doubt anybody else would pay much more.

    As for my barely-used 16Gb 3G, we may have a different story. What do you think it should get?

  3. Ian Betteridge’s avatar

    Hi Doc – interesting post. One line that stuck out a little for me:

    “Apple and Google have together cracked open the unholy death grip that phone makers and carriers have long had on the mobile world.”

    It seems to me that, by accident or design, Google have done precisely the opposite: Handing incumbent phone makers and carriers a tool that lets them stay in the game. Android has basically saved LG, Samsung, HTC et al from either years of development of their own OS or millions in fees to Microsoft to license Windows Phone. It’s also handed the carriers the ability to “tailor their customer experience” (read: “install a load of useless crapware and lock their the phones tightly”).

    Not saying that this is bad, in the sense that Android’s existence increases consumer choice (which is always good). But I don’t think Google deserves any credit for breaking that “unholy death grip” – that wasn’t their intention, and it’s not really in their business interests.

  4. Flip’s avatar

    Take a look at eBay.

    The iPhone 3G still has an asking price in the hundreds there.

  5. Application development’s avatar

    The price on old phones in general depends on the condition of the phone itself. But if it were all right, you had been underpaid.

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