Apple joins iPad trade-in bandwagon, offers competitive deals

As third-gen tablet debut nears, Apple outsources offers for used iPads and iPad 2s

With the retail debut of the new iPad just a day away, Apple has joined a slew of other companies eager to buy used iPads.

On Wednesday, Apple added iPad 2 trade-ins to its Reuse and Recycling program, which exchanges used hardware for Apple gift cards.

The move pits Apple against the likes of eBay's Instant Sale buy-back service, and firms such as Gazelle and NextWorth that specialize in buying smartphones and tablets.

Reuse and Recycling is only available to U.S. customers. Apple outsources its electronics recycling and buy-back programs to PowerON, a Roseville, Calif. company.

On Thursday, Apple offered $205 for a used 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2.

The quote was competitive with other buy-back vendors.

Gazelle, for example, quoted $180 for the same iPad 2 in "good" condition, or $200 for a "flawless" tablet. (Gazelle has said that most incoming iPads meet the requirements for the latter label.)

Meanwhile, NextWorth offered $200 for a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 in "good" shape, or $210.50 for one in "like new" condition.

eBay's Instant Sale site, which generates quotes for used iPads and other electronic devices, also offered $200 for the iPad 2.

Some of the dealers' prices have slipped since last week when Computerworld last covered tablet trade-in trends. On March 9, for example, NextWorth was offering $215 for a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 in good condition, while eBay, then running a deal that expired Saturday, said it would pay $290 for the same device.

In return for a used iPad, Apple sends sellers an Apple gift card valid only for purchases made at an Apple retail store or orders placed through its online store.

Other buy-back vendors are more flexible: Gazelle will send sellers an Amazon gift card -- it automatically adds another 5% of the quoted price -- or a check, or deposits the money in the seller's PayPal account.

NextWorth offers checks, a Target gift card or PayPal deposits. And it shouldn't be a surprise that eBay only does transfers to PayPal, the electronic payment service it owns.

Trade-in volume continues to climb. Yesterday, Gazelle said it had seen an eight-fold increase in trade-ins since Apple unveiled the new iPad last week.

Although supplies are already tight -- the current wait time between ordering and shipping is two to three weeks -- Apple will sell the new tablet in its own retail stores starting at 8 a.m. Friday.

Apple iPad trade-in offers
Apple's iPad trade-in offers -- $205 for a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 -- are competitive with the specialty firms that buy used tablets.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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