Apple Plans to Switch to Randomized Serial Numbers for Future Products Starting in 2021 [Updated]

In an internal memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers, Apple has indicated that it plans to update its serial number format to a randomized alphanumeric string for future products starting in late 2020 (update: Apple now says 2021). Apple says all serial numbers that exist before the change is made will remain the same.

macos catalina serial number
Apple already uses alphanumeric serial numbers, but it has long been possible to determine the date and location that a product was manufactured based on the current format. Readers would often use serial numbers to glean more information about their devices. The randomized format would likely not be decipherable, or at least hard to, and it could also help to reduce fraud.

The memo was published today and obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source. It is unclear if the change will apply worldwide.

Update: Apple has delayed this change until some point in 2021, according to an internal document viewed by MacRumors.

Top Rated Comments

lunarworks Avatar
23 months ago
Then technically it's not a serial number anymore. Serial numbers are in series.

But whatever. It's irrelevant to the concept.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
madmin Avatar
23 months ago
Please emojify my serial number !!

/s
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BBCWatcher Avatar
23 months ago
I like this idea overall, but Apple really ought to include some sort of check digit ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_digit') mechanism, and publish the formula they picked, so that it's possible to determine with high confidence whether a supplied Apple serial number could actually really be a genuine Apple serial number. (Only Apple would know for sure, of course.) There are all sorts of real world scenarios when businesses, governments, and other organizations need to take accurate inventories and when somebody transposes a digit or otherwise gets the serial number wrong. It'd be darn helpful if all these organizations could know, right away, when they've collected a serial number in their inventory taking that cannot possibly be a genuine Apple serial number.

Also, Apple ought to eliminate all characters from serial numbers that can be easily mistaken for other characters. This generally includes (as examples):

0, O, D, and (probably) Q
5 and S
1, 7, and I
8 and B
U and V

The choice of typeface can matter a lot here -- for example, to distinguish A from R -- but some easy-to-confuse characters ought to be dropped no matter what the typeface. This'll help even Apple's own support teams over the phone, etc., as they deal with consumers. There are still plenty of characters available to allow plenty of serial numbers for billions of products.

Finally (and now that Jony Ive has left!), don't be afraid to make serial numbers easier to read (in larger type) on devices. Apple has got typographic experts, so spend some effort making serial numbers easier to read within whatever (sometimes lame) aesthetic goals Apple is trying to achieve. IBM ThinkPads were pretty damn stylish, and they had big, easy to read serial numbers in easy to inventory places.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tennisproha Avatar
23 months ago
This would be a switch for the worse. Serial numbers are the only remaining useful tool in determining more info about a product, like chip type used, place or date of manufacture, etc. This makes it harder for consumers to get product information Apple hides.

I have yet to find examples of serial number being used for outright fraud.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Baymowe335 Avatar
23 months ago
Anything to reduce fraud is appreciated.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
guzhogi Avatar
23 months ago
I also wish they'd make the serial numbers bigger and easier to read. I work in IT, and it's a real pain to read the serial numbers off the bottom. Before anyone asks, checking About My Mac / Settings → General → About isn't possible if the device doesn't even start up. Maybe add a barcode version of it so I can use a barcode scanner.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
it home ecommerce app iphone 13

iPhone 13 to Launch on September 17, AirPods 3 on September 30, Claims Report

Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:42 am PDT by
Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 13 on Friday, September 17 and third-generation AirPods on Thursday, September 30, according to an image of an e-commerce app discovered by Chinese language site IT Home. The screenshot, originally posted by Weibo account @PandaIsBald, suggests all four iPhone 13 models will go on sale on September 17, followed by the AirPods 3 on September 30....
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
ulysses Blog Publishing

Ulysses 22 Brings New Blogging Options and Visual Customizations

Monday March 22, 2021 5:24 am PDT by
Popular writing app Ulysses today received its 22nd major release, introducing new publishing features and additional options for users to customize the visual appearance of their writing environment. As well as providing a focused writing environment, Ulysses offers ways to publish texts from within the app to various blogging platforms. Version 22 adds the ability to publish to Micro.blog, ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...