Apple to Update AppleCare with Subscription Service and In-Store Repair Options

applecare_boxApple has some changes in store for its service and support program AppleCare, according to a report from AppleInsider.

The site claims Apple held a town hall session yesterday that outlined a number of changes to AppleCare that will soon be rolling out across the U.S. first, and then internationally at a later date.
"The biggest announcement, was the way repairs for iPhones will be handled soon," the person, who asked not to be identified due to their active status as an Apple employee, told AppleInsider. "The way it is now, if almost anything is wrong with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the entire device is exchanged for a like-new re manufactured (sic) device, whether brought into an apple store or sent in for mail in repair. Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer."

Currently, Apple Stores have the tools to replace speakers, receivers, home buttons, the vibrator motor and battery. Come June, capabilities will be expanded to display replacement, and by July cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards will be dealt with in-store.
By replacing parts on defective iPhones instead of replacing the units entirely, Apple reportedly hopes to save $1 billion per year.

The site also says Apple will be changing its AppleCare service -- which currently attaches to individual devices, requiring customers to buy a new AppleCare plan for each computer and iOS device they purchase -- into a subscription service that will attach to a particular customer instead of a product. Apple's One to One program works in a similar manner.

The new subscription service could include "exclusive" 24/7 support, though AppleInsider notes that the feature set is not finalized yet and could still change. The complimentary support structure could be changing as well. Currently, Apple includes free phone support for 90 days with every product. The new AppleCare could extend that support to a year or more, and possibly include new live support options such as chat via iMessage.

No information on pricing was available, though the changes are supposed to be rolled out in the U.S. this fall.

The last big change to AppleCare was the introduction of AppleCare+ for iPhones and iPads.

Top Rated Comments

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89 months ago
Apple... Ever heard the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? (No pun intended.)

You have a great system in place. Don't change it.
Rating: 47 Votes
89 months ago
..oh dear. Another one of Apple's USPs dies a death. This will not end well :-(

One of my favourite things about Apple is if there was an issue with a product you could walk into a store and have it swapped out with minimum of fuss in no time at all. They've just lost their support differentiator IMO, how long until it's mail in repairs only?

Premium price will be born by the consumer, but only if there's a premium service to match.
Rating: 43 Votes
89 months ago
Hate to say it but this sounds like a pure money-making move, and not something intended to actually serve the customer.

Reduce repair costs, increase customer payouts with a perpetual subscription to extended warranties...

You're looking at a significant bump in revenue, while people now have to sit around waiting for their phones to be fixed.

Sounds like a total bean-counter move.
Rating: 27 Votes
89 months ago
In-store repair times would have to be pretty fast. It's not like I can go without my phone for a few days.
Rating: 26 Votes
89 months ago

While I agree with the sentiment. If Apple thinks it is going to save them $1 billion per year then Apple are going to do it.

It might not even affect people in the way that they think.

So what do they do with the phones that they swap out? Trash them? No, they repair and then they become refurbished phones. So where does this $1bn saving come from exactly? Increased profit from new price structure?
Rating: 20 Votes
89 months ago
It was so convenient the way it was. I exchanged my defective phone and I was out in 15 min...Now I would have to wait while it's being repaired and be without a phone? I don't see this going over too well with customers.
Rating: 18 Votes
89 months ago
I agree that this is not good news for customers in any way, shape, or form.

First and foremost replacement vs repair has always been a big plus when buying an Apple device. I don't care if it's refurbished all the time (which it isn't always, sometimes they're new), getting a replacement device instead makes me feel much more well taken care of when something goes wrong. I know a great many people who would say the same. And yes, since they sell the same devices again as refurbished or are reused as replacements for someone else as refurbs, there's not as much cost lost as you may first think.

Genius Bars are already busy beyond capacity in many many many locations. Adding one more thing for them to do in repairing your device while you wait will definitely not help things in that regard. Hire more help you say? Some stores can't do that. But even if they could you're now adding more cost to the changes.

As far as changes to AppleCare, this is also very very bad. This is another thing that contributes to Apple's premium image. If I buy AppleCare and I sell my device to someone else while still under coverage, it increases my resale value as well as gives the buyer extra confidence that he's not getting a raw deal; if something is actually wrong with the device, he can take it to Apple to get a replacement (see above). This makes buying Apple products a kind of investment--you pay a premium partly because you can sell it in a year or two and make 75%+ of your money back.

Related: Many people take their first step into the Apple world with a used device, being unsure they want to make the full investment. After one or two of these, most eventually begin buying new ones. Taking away the "gateway drug" for these folks can translate into fewer new sales later. Not good either.

Lastly, as a whole, this all does smack of just a penny-pinching move by someone who doesn't understand what has made Apple what they are today. Apple has the money. Even if they could save $1 billion a year, what's that compared to the $40 billion+ they net every year? It brings down their whole image and makes them feel less premium, less white-glove, and less like the infamous Nordstrom they touted comparison to just a few short years ago.

My vote? Don't do it, Apple. You may lose me and many other customers.
Rating: 16 Votes
89 months ago
I think Apple mistakenly put a subscription service on AppleCare instead of iTunes.
Rating: 14 Votes
89 months ago
This doesn't sound too bad to me as long as the price is reasonable. One subscription to cover both my phone and computer, and any other product I buy? Sounds like a good idea.
Rating: 13 Votes
89 months ago
once something (laptop, phone, iPad, tablet, etc) is opened up, its never the same.
Rating: 11 Votes

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