WE'VE ALL HAD GOOD IDEAS that don't turn out as well as we'd have hoped; that looks to be the case with Apple's discount iPhone battery replacement service.
According to information gleaned by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, Apple had expected to perform one or two million battery replacements, but as it happens it had to replace some 11 million iPhone batteries.
In essence, that means that some 11 million iPhone fans who may have been expected to make the jump to the iPhone XsSor iPhone XR have instead spent $29 on a battery replacement, rather than some $1,000 on a new iPhone. That has apparently been one of the reasons for Apple to decrease its earnings expectations for the first quarter of 2019.
"During Apple's all-hands meeting January 3, Tim Cook said Apple replaced 11 million batteries under the $29 replacement program, and they'd have only anticipated about 1-2 million battery replacements normally," said Gruber.
"The battery replacement program ran all year long, so even if it was more popular than Apple originally expected, why wasn't it accounted for in guidance issued on November 1 — 10 months after the program started? My guess: the effect of the battery replacement program on new iPhone sales wasn't apparent until after the iPhone XR and XS models were available.
"A few million extra iPhone users happy with the performance of their old iPhones with new batteries — who would have otherwise upgraded to a new iPhone this year — put a ding in the bottom line."
The whole cut-price battery replacement scheme came about after it was discovered that Apple deliberately throttles its iPhone processor performance in handsets with ageing batteries.
This chocking of performance was to ensure that the processor on the phone's SoC didn't suck more power than the battery could deliver and bork the iPhone.
Despite Tim Cook's rather level-headed reasoning, some folks got up in arms about the situation. As a result, Apple offered the battery replacement scheme, and there were reports of new leases of life being breathed back into older iPhones after they got a new battery pack popped right up inside them.
One could argue that Apple has shot itself in the foot a bit. But given Cupertino trades on its brand image, we'd say Apple is likely to weather the loss and tout its customer service and subsequent loyalty instead.
And with huge reserves of cash, we doubt Tim Cook and his crew will be crying themselves to sleep over tens of millions of lost earnings; we bawl ourselves to slumber if we so happen to drop a pound coin down a drain, but that's just life in the media. µ
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