On 23 April iTWire reported ‘Apple returns 8 million iPhones to the manufacturer’ and we speculated that its policy had perhaps been a tad generous. I am sure Foxconn as manufacturer would have had a very public hissy fit being forced to take back phones that may not have had a manufacturers fault.
According to Apple Insider “The way it is now if almost anything is wrong the entire device is exchanged for a like-new remanufactured device… Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer”.
Apple stores have basic tools now to replace speakers, receivers, home buttons, vibrator and battery. Within months they will be able to replace displays, camera, sleep/wake button and logic boards as well. Employees will have a suite of diagnostics tools to remotely access hardware allowing for quicker turnaround times.
While many consumers will consider this a retrograde step to lose the ‘walk in and walk out with another’ they have to remember that it is a basic manufacturer’s right to do this and they have been perhaps spoilt during Apple’s rapid growth heyday. Also in moving repairs back to the store they make it easier for non-warranty repairs (read another revenue stream) to be done by Apple instead of the growing number of shopping centre based kiosks offering variable service and often no pedigree on parts.
Apple are also rumoured to be changing its paid AppleCare service to a subscription model – it seems the world is moving to smaller digestible chunks instead of prepaid. The only issue is that the AppleCare will be linked to a consumer, not a device so it can’t be on sold. Selling services and extended warranty is a sure fire way to make money (another revenue stream).
Apple is very good at after sales in-warranty support, something that most other smart phone/tablet makers are not. Subject only to available staff visits to their Genius Bars will remain free.