FORTUNE -- The iPhone 4S announcement may have been "underwhelming" for some, but if eBay's early trade-in numbers are any indication, there's demand for Apple's latest device.
Earlier this week, eBay (EBAY) announced a smartphone trade-in promotion with its Instant Sale program pegged to iPhone 4S. Smartphone owners with qualifying smartphones can snag hundreds of dollars in cash: an AT&T iPhone 4 in excellent condition snagged up to $357, while an AT&T iPhone 3GS got as much as $229. Android smartphones like the HTC Sensation 4G and HTC Thunderbolt were valued at up to $225 and $200, respectively. The first phase of the promotion ended last night, but the company is accepting trade-ins through Oct. 18, with trade-in values varying day-to-day.
The company reports more than 50,000 trade-in requests from smartphone owners, or one offer every two seconds, with 90% of those being iPhones, and the rest being Android and BlackBerry devices: 65% were iPhone 4s, 30% were iPhone 3GS units and 5% were iPhone 3Gs. According to a spokesman, eBay expects offers to keep coming in and match, if not surpass, a similar Verizon iPhone promotion it ran last February when consumers requested to trade in 130,000 smartphones.
Ian Bednowitz, manager for eBay Instant Sale, says the promotion is one of the most competitive out there. (At the very least, it gives more cash back than Apple's own Reuse and Recycling program, which offers up to $200 for an iPhone 4.)
While the company's trade-in data obviously isn't representative of overall demand for the iPhone 4S, and eBay wouldn't directly comment on whether the data bodes well for the phone's future, it could be viewed as a good indicator that some consumers -- or at least some Apple early adopters -- want the 4S and want it on Day One, even if it means the phone they're getting physically resembles the one they already have.
That sentiment would differ somewhat from the perception in some corners of the media that yesterday's unveiling was somewhat of a disappointment, and that the iPhone 4S might not sell as well as iPhones past. Gartner analyst C.K. Lu told Reuters that he believes users may wait until the next major iPhone hardware update or else shift to other brands with more advanced hardware specifications. Meanwhile, former Business Insider editor-turned-one-man blogger Dan Frommer took the opposite tack: "If you're disappointed by the iPhone 4S, you're nuts." And optimistic forecasts from the Taiwan-based component-tracking group TrendForce predict the 4S could boost overall iPhone sales by 22% over the next 12 months.
Regardless of whether the iPhone 4S sinks, swims or soars once it hits the market, a good chunk of upgraders will walk away from eBay and Apple feeling a lot less strapped for cash.
Adam Lashinsky's "Inside" story in the new issue of Fortune is packed with juicy revelations
After the simultaneous, and more-or-less disastrous, launch of the iPhone 3G and MobileMe in the summer of 2008 -- the launch one Gizmodo reader dubbed "iPocalypse" -- Steve Jobs summoned the MobileMe team to the Town Hall auditorium on Apple's (AAPL) Cupertino campus for an obscenity-laden dressing down. "You've tarnished Apple's reputation," he told them. "You MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 7, 2011 9:30 AM ET
The crowd of nearly 1,200 customers filled the FAO Schwartz plaza, wound down 58th Street, ran up Madison Ave. and across 59th Street all the way back to Fifth Ave.
The turnout for Apple's (AAPL) iPad 2 was huge -- bigger than any I'd seen for a product launch. An hour before the doors were scheduled to open at the company's flagship Fifth Avenue store, it was too large and fluid MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 11, 2011 4:44 PM ET
A curated selection of the day's most newsworthy tech stories from all over the Web.
HP took the lid off its next-gen mobile strategy yesterday and unveiled the 9.7-inch Touchpad, a 1.6-pound tablet with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor running off webOS -- the same operating system Palm's most recent products used -- 1,024 x 768 resolution display like the iPad, Beats audio along with Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML5 MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Feb 10, 2011 6:00 AM ET
Smartphones' sleek forms, tactile buttons, and blinking lights add up to a sort of game -- and a perfect catalyst for compulsive behaviors.
If you've got a smartphone, check it. Chances are, it's flashing a light or showing you an icon to signal a new text, e-mail, Facebook message, or even the archaic missed call. And that feels good. Face it, it's a bummer when you pick up your phone after MOREShelley DuBois, writer-reporter - Oct 20, 2010 11:32 AM ET
Bug fixes, better photos, 99-cent TV rentals and new ways to play games with friends
As Steve Jobs promised last week, Apple (AAPL) released a major update Wednesday of the operating system that runs its iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G. The new iPod touch released today comes with the software, called iOS 4.1, built in.
The free download takes about five minutes.
This is supposed to be the first iOS 4 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 8, 2010 3:09 PM ET
In this episode of Techmate, Jon Fortt and Philip Elmer-Dewitt discuss Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone, and explain how the company's focus has shifted from computers to mobile devices. Plus, find out what the new phone means for tech titans like Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG) and Cisco (CSCO).
>Mason Cohn, Producer - Jun 7, 2010 8:07 PM ET
In the latest episode of Techmate, Jon and Michael analyze the ongoing war between Apple (AAPL) and Adobe (ADBE) plus a surprise appearance by Hello Kitty.
>Ben Baer, Senior Producer - May 7, 2010 2:41 PM ET
In the latest Techmate, Michael Copeland ruminates on 6 things other than the iPhone 4G (AAPL) he wishes companies would leave in a bar for him to check out.
>Ben Baer, Senior Producer - Apr 28, 2010 10:49 AM ET
Fortune contributor Michal Lev-Ram talks to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega about the carrier's efforts to strengthen its wireless network.
>Mason Cohn, Producer - Mar 30, 2010 12:27 PM ET
|Homeless college students seek shelter during breaks|
|Another strong quarter for Smith & Wesson|
|Five things you didn't know about Bernie Madoff's epic scam|
|Don't fight it. Bitcoin has a bright future|
|JPMorgan patents Bitcoin-like payment system|