Apple has changed its self-repair program in a way that makes it an awful option for consumers, but could make a lot of sense for business computing, especially for those who want to perform repairs. iOS devices, whether for company-owned devices or BYOD user devices.
It should be noted that the need for users to always have their phones coupled with the massive employee distribution of a remote workforce could make this less attractive. Still, for the sizeable number of users still in large corporate buildings, it’s an attractive option.
Let’s start with the fun part, which describes how ridiculously bad these changes are for some. MacRumors did a wonderful dive into the experience; here are some of my favorite lines.
“The repair kit comes in two separate packages, and both boxes weigh 79 pounds.”
For some consumers, dealing with such heavy packaging (I want brownie points for resisting the urge to call it a “weight issue”) is a problem. If Apple wanted to discourage consumers from using this service, that’s a great start.
“You get it for a week before you have to send it back via UPS, or Apple charges you $1,300.”
What if life interferes and the consumer can’t wrap it up in a week? Why not give them a month or, better yet, three months? This would provide much more flexibility.
Additionally, repackaging nearly 80 pounds of equipment and getting it to UPS – which may not be nearby – is a major hassle. And why only UPS? We may have a clue on that one. Another Apple-focused site, AppleInsiderdid a great piece looking into a strange agreement between Apple and FedEx.
What was so strange? FedEx messaged a customer who had lost an AppleWatch being returned to Apple, saying “‘we must respectfully deny your claim “because there was an endorsement on the delivery contract” stating that you agreed not to file any claims arising from transportation services provided by FedEx. not responsible for lost packages to Apple.
And just when was Apple going to tell everyone about that arrangement? It appears that the agreement only allowed Apple to dispute the loss of a package by FedEx, not the shipper, which is not the case for other packages. Overall, it seems best to avoid FedEx shipping for Apple.
Back to self-repair details. After MacRumors detailed various program costs, he did the math.
“That means it costs a total of $95.84 to perform a battery swap on the iPhone 12 mini, and comparatively, it’s $69 for Apple to exchange itit is therefore not really profitable to do this repair on your own.”
Let this sentence sink in for a moment. It apparently costs 39% more to use the self-service option than to let Apple do it. How does this price make sense? It’s like a mechanic saying to a customer “You’ve got a dead carburetor. You have two choices. You can have a seat in the waiting room and we’ll replace it for $69 or you can do all the work yourself for $95.84. Your decision.”
The only obvious conclusion is that Apple wants to offer this program due to Right to Repair legislation, but does not want anyone to use it.
My favorite: Apple insists that consumers use Apple repair tools that are both proprietary and expensive. Again, from MacRumors:
“Note that you can order the parts on their own without the tool kit, but Apple’s repair manual instructs users to use tools from the kit that they wouldn’t otherwise have on hand, such as a battery press designed by Apple. You can buy all the tools individually so you have them on hand for repairs, but Apple’s components are expensive. A battery press is $115, a torque screwdriver is $99, a heated display removal pocket is $116, and a display press is $216, and all of these are needed to remove the battery according to the repair manual. ‘Apple.
Wait, it’s getting worse.
“As for the actual repair process, Dan found it difficult, even with Apple’s instructions and tools. It was frustrating to get into, and it lacked kit components that were required by the manual, such as tweezers and heat protection gloves. Dan had to go to the store twice to get more supplies, and because of that, the repair took most of the day. Dealing with adhesive was time consuming and nearly ended self-repair.”
Here is the interesting part. Despite the fact that Apple’s self-repair program is ridiculously bad for consumers, it could be a very profitable mechanism for enterprise computing.
Repairing mobile devices is complicated for IT. There are four categories of users for this purpose. One, office-based users who have one or more company-owned iOS devices. Two desktop users who own iOS devices (BYOD). Third, remote users who own one or more company-owned iOS devices. Four, remote users who own iOS devices (again, BYOD).
To be explicit, options one and two assume that users are working in a building with an IT presence. If there is no significant IT presence where they work, they are effectively considered remote for that narrow purpose.
What this self-repair program from Apple would do is make it profitable for the IT department to do their own repairs. Being cold and corporate for a while makes the most sense for option one, but much less so for the others. If users can just walk up to the IT floor, drop their phone (presumably they would have pre-arranged this with IT so someone has time to help), that makes sense to everyone world. It’s a cost saving for IT, most of the time.
But the cold, corporate truth is that most BYOD users will pay out of pocket to get their phones repaired. even when the repair directly enables a business function that they wouldn’t otherwise need. For example, their phone may be fighting against the VPN chosen by IT or the company firewall. The most explicit situation is when the user wants to be without a phone for a while, but needs to use it to log into corporate systems. Even then, these users could tell him: “Do you want this function? You pay for my phone to greet you.
Realistically, most BYOD users won’t care, especially if they’re remote and happens to be quite close to an Apple Store that performs such repairs. This is the classic BYOD argument. Since the phone belongs to the user and the user uses it for many personal matters, the question of who should pay for the various repairs is open. Either way, the company is banking on the fact that the user needs the phone enough that if IT keeps them waiting long enough, they’ll crack and pay for the repairs themselves to do so.
While I’ve discussed the few inconveniences of working remotely many times, the fact that the IT department performs on-site repairs is one of those rare inconveniences. Users don’t like to leave their mobile devices for several days unless absolutely essential. Of course, if the phone is completely dead, it doesn’t really matter.