Apple is preparing to enhance its Apple Store-based iPhone sales operations in the United States around pre-paid and month-to-month plans in order boost sales, according to a source briefed on the upcoming initiatives. For the first time in U.S. Apple Stores, customers will be able to purchase an iPhone at full-price and then connect the phone to a pre-paid plan or a month-to-month plan within the store. Previously, iPhone customers could only buy full-priced iPhones as unlocked devices then connect the devices to pre-paid plans or month-to-month plans via a previously purchased SIM-card or through a carrier store…
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Now that these plans will be available through Apple Stores, customers will be hooked into the store which exposes them to Apple’s other products. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Apple Retail Store managers that bolstered iPhone sales numbers in stores are critical as the iPhone is Apple’s “gateway” product to other devices. Later this year, Apple will debut a wrist-worn wearable device that interacts with an iPhone, so increasing iPhone sales in Apple’s own stores is critical to the growth of that new product category. Cook previously said that only 20% of iPhones are sold in Apple Stores, but recent initiatives have boosted that number considerably over the past 12 months.
Apple is said to be partnering with AT&T and T-Mobile for the new push.
Apple Stores will soon stock up on AT&T GoPhone pre-paid activation kits and SIM cards, and stores will use the existing T-Mobile SIM cards for customers that will choose T-Mobile pre-paid plans. Apple will begin training its store employees on the new pre-paid and month-to-month iPhone sales practices in the coming weeks. Sales staff will promote AT&T’s $60 per month pre-paid plan (with 2.5GB of internet data and unlimited talk and text) to those seeking AT&T plans, while the stores will offer $50/month (1GB LTE data) and $70/month (5GB LTE data) unlimited data plans to customers seeking T-Mobile devices. The activations must be done at the time of purchase in Apple Stores and those devices will be unable to be returned to Apple for a refund.
Apple is said to plan to begin offering the pre-paid and month-to-month plans in its U.S. stores beginning in the last week of June.
Apple will introduce multiple new iPhone models with larger displays in the fall of this year, and this new sales push could be a way of clearing out existing iPhone inventory ahead of those launches. As carrier stores are increasingly wooing in customers to Android devices and more affordable plans, Apple’s upcoming move will bring more carrier plan parity to Apple Stores, opening up the door for increased iPhone hardware sales.