Apple is reportedly looking to overhaul its iPhone retail strategy in a bid to boost sales to maintain a strong position in the handset market in the face of increasing competition from Google’s rival Android platform.
The news comes from 9to5Mac, which says Apple boss Tim Cook, together with executives Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, held a secret summit with Apple retail store leaders from around the world. According to the Apple news site’s multiple sources, the meeting was held at Fort Mason in San Francisco on June 27.
Cook reportedly spoke for three hours, praising the sales of iPads and Mac computers at Apple stores while at the same time expressing disappointment at the performance of the iPhone. The Apple CEO noted that only 20 percent of iPhone purchases are made through its own stores, a figure he’s keen to see improve.
“The iPhone is Apple’s central ‘gateway product’ to other devices like iPads and Macs, so it is critical that the Apple smartphone is sold via an Apple store so new customers are immediately exposed to iPads, Macs and other devices on the showroom floor,” 9to5Mac said in its report.
Incentives! Incentives! Incentives!
So how exactly is the Cupertino company hoping to boost sales of its handset at Apple stores? Well, imagine Cook running around the meeting room with sweaty armpits shouting, “Incentives! Incentives! Incentives!” à la Steve Ballmer. No, Cook didn’t do that as far as we know, but incentives appear to have been at the center of the Fort Mason talks.
There are already some in place. The company recently launched a back-to-school promotion offering students who purchase an iPhone a $50 app store gift card – the scheme is only available via Apple’s retail and online stores.
Cook is also believed to have mentioned an iPhone trade-in program, which could be rolled out at Apple stores in the coming months. The scheme, which will apparently make it simple for customers to part with their old iPhone model in exchange for the latest iteration, was first reported by Bloomberg last month, though no official word about the initiative has come from Apple up to now.
9to5Mac also said that worldwide improvements to price-matching policies could be implemented in an effort to bring more sales to the Apple store at the expense of other iPhone carriers.
New plans for improving iPhone sales at the company’s brick-and-mortar outlets will be unveiled at Apple’s next quarterly meeting for stores on July 28, the sources said.
Besides all the talk of incentives, there was reportedly also talk of a number of new “major stores” opening in Europe, though no timeframe was given.
Also, one person at the Fort Mason meeting said we can expect to see “an army of new products this fall,” possibly including the iPhone 5S, a revamped fifth-generation iPad, the much-talked-about low-cost iPhone, and, at a stretch, an Apple smartwatch.