back to article Hey, Apple. THIS is how you flog iPhones in new markets

Last year mobile phone trade-in firm eRecyclingCorps announced that they had recycled 10 million phones in the past four years. This year they said they'd chewed through the same 10 mill in the last year alone. It would be nice to think that people recycle old phones out of a love for the planet, but the company has found …


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Anonymous Coward

Avarice ?

Why couldnt you use the word GREED instead?

Makes it so much more palatable.

You make them sound like saints ! The opposite is true.


Re: Avarice ?

High end phones are £400 and up these days, and the mid range ones are hardly cheap either. You can't call people out for not writing off something that cost them a fair chunk of change. Unless I misread the article, the recycling company is just that - a company, not a charity.

Silver badge

Interesting to hear the process described.

Reuse is (usually) the best form of recycling.



iPhone is desirable as a status symbol BECAUSE it is expensive. Moves to provide low cost iPhones harm the brand. Apple has built their entire business on being exclusive, they're not likely to start providing cheapo iphones anytime soon.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Nope.

iPhone is desirable as a status symbol BECAUSE it is the best phone and people like the brand, service etc.

IMHO Samsung make decent enough fridges and copy phones.


Call me synical...

... but isn't this just a way for 1st world countries to wash their hands of the recycling issue? 3 years down the line and the responsibility for the recycling has been passed on to the 3rd world countries.


Re: Call me synical...

You are synical [sic].

I mean, it's true that these phones may well end up in a landfill anyway a few years later. But in the mean time, all those folks in the 3rd world need/want phones. If they're happy with refurbished iPhones, that's potentially 20 million fewer brand new phones that have to be made.


Mashing Margins in Mobile Markets

Why do people assume that all companies want to be in every market? The question has nothing to do with Apple or anyone else specifically, just generally, in any industry?

It is grossly incorrect to assume more = better for any type of company. Each broad market category has different requirements in addition to any requirements a different area, region or country imposes. That's not to say one market is better than another, that's to say your business best suited to a specific market category and bleed over somewhat at both ends. It is really, really, really than any single company can excel in all categories.

Going into any given market without a good understanding of that markets actual requirements is one of the most expensive things a company can do that doesn't involve exotic wildlife, hookers and pocketfuls of cocaine. The trouble is, nobody actually knows what emerging markets will actually end up needing or how much that market is willing to spend in adopting their products.

As a general category, 'emerging markets' are the worst places to make big money. Getting in early does give some opportunity to reposition yourself and lock in a portion of the population (1st Gen 'Cool Kids' who will grow into professionals and still buy (BrandX) and if you're lucky you'll break even profit wise, but the additional corporate revenue bump is nice.

Generally, if you have the resource capacity to move fast and hard, is to watch everyone else, then just stick yourself in the holes they inevitably leave. Moving first into those markets is a high risk long game and most companies lose. That's because their existing global structure has minimums it must meet so if you guess (it is a guess, don't buy into that analysis bullshit) wrong about what an emerging market wants it is too expensive to change quickly enough. Some tiny no name company can come in and knock you right off your perch because they've now identified what doesn't work.

Politics always fuck you. Just because everybody in The West got on the 'no bribery' short-bus doesn't mean the recipients of bribes just went home, determined to make a go at 'fair play'. That was a stupid assumption from the beginning. Now they've built complex internal schemes to skim off the funds internally and of course it's going to be insanely more expensive that way. What used to be friendly face to face meetings of businesspeople and government types now has 300 people involved and everybody but the US military gets all sissified about duffle bags full of cash. Now they want company shares and bonds and awards (with fancy reception dinners) and all sorts of other stupidly expensive things. So congratulations anti-bribery campaigners, you've screwed us all. If $50k monthly cash transactions aren't good enough anymore you can be damn sure I'm going to get my normal margins for dealing with the bullshit and I'm going to stick it right on the invoice too and list it as an RPITA (Regulatory Pain In The Ass) and you'll pay it Mr. DOE man, because 110% of regulatory compliance costs are in the 15yr deal you signed. Dumbasses.

Lastly there's infrastructure to deal with. Modern companies require an enormous infrastructure to function as they do. Everything about economies of scale and streamlined supply chains falls apart with things as simple as marginally higher shipping costs or even slower shipping.

One of the largest companies in the US bought a facility in Brazil to centralize their South American reverse logistics operations and to this day nobody knows exactly how much 'stuff' or money was lost (reverse logistics is messy, usually nobody knows what's coming until they open the boxes). The conveyer belts were impregnated with an insecticide, from the previous owners, that reacted with the plastic documents envelope on the boxes that had all the relevant information in it so nobody knew why there were 800 My Little Pony's in that box, just that there were. Losses shot by $100m within 20 days and it was all sold off for $3m. The target revenue had been $30m annual.

The above is obviously a one off, but everybody making first moves into emerging markets has tons of those type stories. Like I said in the beginning, any given market is as fine as the next, if your company is suited to that market as is. You can't change everything for one market because your global economies fail. There are many, many, many companies that aren't suitable for any market other than where they've already seen success.

Anyway, that's today's rant. It's a pretty rookie mistake to want to be everywhere at once. You can do it, but it's rarely worth it. $1 is not $1 you know, it has to come to you just the right way or you're better off not taking it. That's just traditional good business and it's even more relevant today with the complex mix of battalions of vendors, partners, revenue sharing agreements, financial oversight and stupid government fees. Even giant super rich globocorps like Google/Apple/Exxon/Boeing don't have a lot of latitude in bending to serve markets they're not well suited for. A good rule of thumb is to look at a company's past performance in expanding into countries that speak different languages but have similar socioeconomic divisions and cut revenue amounts in half and double the costs and milestone timelines if the company is the first going into an emerging market. If the numbers still don't look as good as other markets on 24 month projections just don't do it. Let somebody else work all that shit out. You'll make the same money and do it a lot easier to boot.


Re: Mashing Margins in Mobile Markets


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