With rumors swirling about the imminent iPhone 5 release date – which some say could come as early as tomorrow — it pays to ponder some spin-off business angles to the latest installment in the smartphone saga.
The iPhone can be difficult to localize as a retail story because it’s not manufactured in the U.S. and sold online and in a relatively few authorized bricks & mortar retail outlets. That said, it couldn’t hurt to check up front with shopping center managers and tenants — are any other merchants gearing up to capitalize on increased foot traffic at nearby AT&T stores, Apple stores, Best Buy, Radio Shack and the like? Ask about past experience with iPhone releases and whether the brief phone mania helps or hurts nearby strip center tenants.
And what about the mall kiosks and other small operators (not to mention online sellers at print-on-demand sites like Zazzle and Cafe Press) that sell iPhone cases and other aftermarket accessories? How do they keep up with changing phone configurations — do they get a boost from new models or suffer a slump during transitional periods?
Whatever happens at the micro level, check out this Wall Street Journal blog post, citing a JP Morgan economists’ report about the potential of the new gadget to buoy the entire U.S. economy in the fourth quarter. The phone could add more than $3 billion and up to half a percentage point to the Gross Domestic Product, the report says.
However, five generations in to this interesting gizmo and its other smartphone cousins, I think a fresh local angle would be a look at what happens to all of the rejects. I know I have an older hand-me-down languishing in the kitchen junk drawer — and wondered just the other day, what do I do with it? How can I sell it safely? Does removing the SIM card suffice or must I take other steps to wipe out personal info?
Readers leaping ahead a few generations might appreciate an explainer and it’s a great topic for alternative storytelling using graphics, info-boxes and the like; here’s a 2011 PCWorld article that can serve as a template. And this CNET.com article about pre-paid iPhones is a personal-finance eye-opener.
Business use of smartphones. Check with area employers to find the smartphone of choice; is it the iPhone, the Blackberry or other entries into the growing market? In what novel ways are businesses using smartphones and apps to increase productivity?
E-waste. Even though few iPhones likely end up in the dumpster, with the above-mentioned secondary markets, the turnover is a decent peg for a story about electronic waste. Here’s a state-by-state summary of e-waste laws to get you started; also check around for community events that collect discarded computers, phones, entertainment units and the like. What happens to these items after drop-off?
Holiday shopping. Is the iPhone release, the release of a tablet for kids and Google’s economical new model — all months ahead of December — going to usurp any Christmas spending? Does it matter? Or do stores expect consumers to be back for more?