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There’s an argument in the platform wars, and also on Wall Street, that goes something like this: “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore. It moves too slowly, and is being taken over by more nimble, more innovative rivals.”
Any success Apple has is the result of slick marketing, rather than the newest technology. But now, Apple is a laggard and is being overtaken by more nimble companies.
Apple was caught last year selling Apple Certified refurbished hardware on eBay using the pseudonym Refurbished-Outlet. Allegedly.
The prices and details of these products were generally the same as refurbished products sold on the apple.com site. The products come with a one-year warranty and mobile devices contain a new battery.
But this week it emerged that Apple is lowering the prices on eBay, sometimes by quite a bit. For example, Apple normally charges $999 for a refurbed MacBook Air with 128 GB. But that same system with the same Apple inspection and one-year warranty went on sale in the eBay store for $899. Prices on other hardware products were slashed similarly.
(In addition, we learned, the company as been apparently working with “power sellers” on eBay to sell Apple hardware. For example, until they ran out of the 500 units put up for sale of 13-inch MacBook Pros selling for $999. These are new devices, not refurbished, and Apple is probably using the “channel” to clear out inventory.)
It seems to me that Apple is working behind the scenes to experiment with different models for selling refurbished and excess inventory. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple was also trying other channels for doing the same thing that we don’t know about. And I also wouldn’t be surprised if refurbished gadgets vanished from the Apple site altogether, and for those items to be sold in the darker alleys of the Internet (like eBay) exclusively instead.
But I think there’s a ginormous opportunity here for embracing “used” in a big way — and it’s something only Apple could pull off.