Apple just announced a charger buy-back program, ostensibly following news that a Chinese woman had died after a spurious charger electrocuted her:
Starting August 16, 2013, if you have concerns about any of your USB power adapters, you can drop them off at an Apple Retail Store or at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. We will ensure that these adapters are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.
If you need a replacement adapter to charge your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, we recommend getting an Apple USB power adapter. For a limited time, you can purchase one Apple USB power adapter at a special price — $10 USD or approximate equivalent in local currency. To qualify, you must turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to an Apple Retail Store or participating Apple Authorized Service Provider for serial number validation. The special pricing on Apple USB power adapters is limited to one adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod you own and is valid until October 18, 2013.
Adam Pasick, at Quartz, is impressed with Apple’s thinking behind this offer:
Why is this such a genius move?
In a single stroke, Apple has inoculated itself from blame if any further third-party chargers disastrously melt down—as the shoddy, cheaply manufactured fakes are prone to do. If it had chosen to do nothing, it would have eventually faced some uncomfortable questions, like: “How many more people have to die because Apple sells overpriced chargers?”
By offering to take back any and all third-party chargers, even those made by legitimate accessories companies like Belkin and Griffin, Apple is cementing its own super-premium-priced chargers as the gold standard. Even at 50% off, it may still be making a profit. Blogger Ken Shirriff, who has done extensive analysis of iPhone chargers both fake and real, has noted that the components in Apple’s high-quality chargers only cost about a dollar more to manufacture than Samsung’s charger, which retails for $6 to $10.
And let’s not forget that Apple’s take-back program will generate a surge of extra foot traffic to Apple Stores, where users trading in their chargers may well decide to buy a new iPhone case, an Apple TV, or what the heck, maybe a fully-loaded MacBook Pro. The company collected $57.60 in revenue per Apple Store visitor in the first quarter, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu.
Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?