Apple is pulling out all the stops as it scrambles to prop up sputtering sales of its new iPhone XR.
The Silicon Valley giant on Tuesday took the unprecedented step of advertising a trade-in deal on its website that gives the new iPhone XR an effective price as low as $449.
That’s despite the fact that the XR hit the market just five weeks ago, and its retail markup of $749 makes it by far the cheapest of this year’s stratospherically priced iPhone lineup — $250 less than the next cheapest model.
Separately on Tuesday, Apple launched a dedicated online portal for active duty military and veterans, with popular gadgets including iPhones and iPads getting a 10 percent discount. It will work much the same way as Apple’s student and corporate shopping portals do.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said in a statement that the veterans discounts are its way of expressing “our gratitude for their brave service.”
Nevertheless, Apple watchers took it as another signal that Apple may have miscalculated consumers’ willingness to pay increasingly jacked-up prices for iPhones.
Indeed, the new marketing gimmicks surrounding the iPhone XR have been described by one Apple insider as a “fire drill,” according to a Tuesday Bloomberg report, as the company grapples with middling sales.
Apple has assigned members of its marketing team to work full-time on boosting sales, and has upped the amount it is willing to pay for devices traded in towards the purchase of a new iPhone, according to the report.
The discounting follows weeks of reports of Apple suppliers slashing sales forecasts. Most recently, Cirrus Logic, which makes audio chips for the iPhone, cut its sales forecast by 16 percent, citing “recent weakness in the smartphone market.” Apple accounts for just over 80 percent of Cirrus’ revenue, according to its most recent 10-K filing.
Apple’s iPhone XR, which boasts the edge-to-edge display, albeit using older LCD pixels instead of the X’s high-resolution OLED screen, was widely expected to fuel a massive wave of upgrades from users of the iPhone 6S or earlier models.
Apple also stoked iPhone sales worries last month when it told analysts and investors that it will no longer break down unit sales for iPhones, iPads and Macs.
Shares of Apple finished the day down 4.4 percent, at $176.69.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.