You know that old Motorola Razr that's been sitting in your nightstand for the last year? If you live near Omaha, Neb., you can march up to the EcoATM at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, toss it in, and automatically get an in-store trade-up coupon or gift card.
The self-serve e-cycling station electronically inspects phones, assigns them real-time secondary market value, and provides in-store payment--if the handset still has any monetary worth. If not, consumers can choose to assign the device to the recycle bin, and then it's on its way to getting recycled or refurbished.
The kiosk at the Omaha store is the first such station to be installed by San Diego-based start-up EcoATM, and it's serving as a test case in advance of a scheduled larger rollout.
The company, formerly called ReMobile, declared the Nebraska machine an immediate success when it went into operation September 21--both in the number of recycled devices collected and the trade-up purchases.
On its first day, 23 phones went into the recycle bin. In addition, "the EcoATM at NFM bought back over $100 in phones on day two, including a perfect BlackBerry Curve," Twittered EcoATM's Eric Rosser, who said in an interview he thinks retailers will appreciate the automation of the EcoATM and consumers will value the speed and convenience.
The company plans to install kiosks at wireless stores and big-box retailers in San Diego, Texas, Washington state, and Vermont this quarter, Rosser said, with a "massive rollout" set for the second quarter of next year. Eventually the EcoATMs should be able to recognize other gadgets, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, notebooks, printers, and storage devices.
The machines rely on a camera-based system to detect signs of wear such as cracked screens, missing keys, and scuff marks, and to determine a device's approximate value. If it's not worth anything, consumers could still get a free gift for their efforts--in Omaha's case, a waterproof phone case. And in a green nod, EcoATM will plant a tree for them. … Read more