Following an exceptional fourth quarter that saw Apple smash sales and profit records and record the highest Android switch-over rate in three years, Apple is reportedly set to open its trade-in programme to Android and Blackberry smartphone users, Bloomberg reports.

The move has been described as an aggressive two-pronged plan aimed at maximising iPhone6 sales, while poaching rival smartphone users with the hope of converting them into lifelong Apple fans.

The plan looks set to target Samsung and Blackberry, which have both lost significant smartphone market share amid stiff competition from the US-based electronics giant.

While Apple has yet to confirm the reports, local tech expert Simon Dingle says the likelihood of Apple going through with a trade-in programme of this nature is slim.

“I’d be surprised if it were true because Apple doesn’t need help selling the iPhone 6, they sell the jumbo jet weight of iPhones every hour. In the final quarter of last year they sold 63 000 iPhones every 30 minutes 24 hours per day for three months. They’re even showing growth in emerging markets so I’d be surprised if they would offer a trade-in system like that because it would cost a lot of money and it’s not something that they have to do,” Dingle says.

As the only smartphone manufacturer not to showcase at the annual Mobile World Congress, Apple has distinguished itself as a stand-alone brand and as such, Dingle doesn’t believe it would want to associate with other smartphone manufacturers.

“If they start accepting other brands under trade-ins, they immediately associate with those devices and it starts to become a comparable product and I don’t think that that’s something Apple would ever do,” he says.

Apple raked in $74,6 billion (R924 billion) in revenue, outperformed top-grossing energy companies recording a net profit of $18 billion (R223 billion) and selling 74,5 million units in the fourth quarter of last year.

“The current iPhone lineup experienced the highest Android switch rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years. Given there are a fair amount of Android units out there, there is also an enormous amount of Android customers that could switch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year.

With an excellent battery life, faster charging functions and camera quality said to be as good as the iPhone, experts say Apple may be facing its stiffest competition yet when archrival Samsung launches the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge next month.

“I think this is going to be the best smartphone Samsung has ever made since the Galaxy S2. The S6 is a more premium-feeling device because Samsung is using metal casing like Apple does,” says Dingle.

“The S6 is going to have the best screen on the market hands down. Samsung has shown that they understand screen technology better than anyone else so you won’t be able to rival the display on the S6 in this generation.”

But, will this be enough to get brand-loyal Apple users to make a switch?

Probably not, says Dingle, but Samsung could see a turnaround in sales.

Source: Bloomberg