Consumers unloaded their old iPads in unprecedented numbers so they can trade up to Apple's latest tablet, a gadget buy-back company said Wednesday.
The rush to dump the old and use the cash to buy the new is a good sign for Apple, said Boston-based Gazelle.
"It was a perfect storm, in part because of the short time between the announcement and availability," said Kristina Kennedy, Gazelle's director of brand and communications, of the trade-in surge Wednesday. "This as a very good indicator that Apple will sell a lot of iPad 2s."
Wednesday's action on the iPad set a record for the company, with more consumers selling their now-old tablets in an hour than did iPhone owners last summer when Apple launched the iPhone 4.
"Last summer, we only did about 1,200 iPhones the day of the [iPhone 4] announcement," Kennedy said. "We had more than 2,000 iPads in just over an hour Wednesday. This was our biggest trade-in for a single product ever."
Gazelle buys used consumer electronics devices -- everything from smartphones and laptops to video game consoles -- then resells them on eBay, where it has its own "store," or to sites like Overstock.com or, in some cases, to wholesalers.
The prices it pays are determined by the most basic economics: supply and demand.
Shortly after Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 Wednesday morning, for example, Gazelle was paying $375 for a working 16GB iPad in top condition. But by later in the day, after sellers started dumping their old tablets, Gazelle was paying just $300 for the same iPad.
Part of the drop in payouts was due to the sudden glut of trade-ins, but Kennedy said Apple also played a part when it cut prices of its remaining inventory of the original iPad by $100. Refurbished iPads from Apple are even less expensive: A 16GB Wi-Fi now sells for $349.
An initial drop in prices wasn't unexpected; it often happens when Apple launches a new product and a large supply is suddenly available. But Kennedy said it was likely that prices might bounce back by this weekend.
IPad owners can get a price quote for their current tablet by answering a few questions on Gazelle's site. Customers ship their gadgets in a company-provided, postage-paid box, after which Gazelle may revise the offer if the device isn't in the described condition. Kennedy said that about 80% of the trade-ins are paid out at the previously quoted price.
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