The market for refurbished tech is shining like new

We need more devices to keep up with the marathon of quarantine. The ringleaders of the refurb empire are reaping the benefits


May 14, 2020

Consider the sad old iPhone sitting in your junk drawer. It must be lonely, right?

Don’t feel too sorry. These days, it might be the most popular gizmo at the party. OneZero reports that refurbished electronics are this season’s must-have devices.

Second-hand is getting a second look

In the early days of the pandemic — that is, the ancient history of 8 weeks ago — there was a huge rush on home-office tech. Then supply chains went haywire — Apple had to push back mass production of this year’s new iPhones.

Governments are reopening, but for many folks, each day feels like a mind-numbing, Bill Murray-less version of Groundhog Day. We’re still workin’ from home, still Zoomin’, still helpin’ the kids learn (when they’re not trying to pull a fast one on their teachers).

We need more devices to keep up — even Google is having trouble finding laptops for all its employees.

The ringleaders of the refurb empire are reaping the benefits:

  • One market research firm’s early data showed sales of used smartphones rising by 28%, as US sales of name-brand smartphones dropped 21% compared to last year.

A supplier that works with school districts said April sales were up 60% over last year. If there had been enough used computers to go around, the company’s CEO believes business would have been even better.

Fight for your right to party fix it yourself

The right-to-repair movement is also having a big moment (and we’re talking more than a busted phone — advocates want to make it easier to fix ventilators, too.)

Kyle Wiens, CEO of the DIY repair site iFixit, said his company has sold thousands of repair kits for the Nintendo Switch — another precious pandemic commodity, because the islands of Animal Crossing are our only escape.

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