Apple's first profit warning since 2002 has clearly generated a significant amount of finger-pointing at the Cupertino giant's HQ, so much so that in the letter to investors Apple may have said more than it had planned on saying.
Must read: 2019: The Apple products you shouldn't buy
Apple listed several reasons why it had to backtrack on its 60-day old revenue guidance to issue the profits warning, but one of the reasons listed seemed particularly candid [emphasis added]:
"While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, US dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements."
Apple introduced this reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements following the discovery of code in the iOS operating system that throttled the performance of iPhones if the battery was showing signs of wear (which itself appears to be a side effect of Apple's pursuit of thinner and lighter iPhones).
Now, this statement about battery replacements having an impact on iPhone sales raises a number of questions.
First, and perhaps most significant is this – How many iPhones does Apple sell to people simply because the battery in their existing iPhone is worn? Over the years there's been a great deal of chatter around the subject of "planned obsolescence," and here we have Apple essentially confirming that this is indeed part of the business model.
Which leads on to the next obvious question – How many iPhones are being junked or recycled just because they need a new battery? For a company that likes to boast about its environmental credentials, this should be a concern.
Another question – Did the battery replacement program only have an effect on sales over the holiday period, or has this been a factor all year? After all, Apple kicked off the program in December 2017. I have talked to a few people, both at Apple service centers and at third-party authorized repair centers, who report that there had been a significant uptick in iPhones coming in for battery replacement over the final few months of the program, so maybe this did indeed have a bigger than anticipated effect on holiday sales.
At this point, it's worth pointing out that if indeed the battery replacement program was a significant factor in the profits warning, Apple only has itself to blame for throttling iPhones in the first place.
Seems like in the middle of all the finger-pointing Apple may have said some things that will add to the "planned obsolescence" narrative and cause further problems down the line.
If you don't want to fall victim to planned obsolescence, then you can either get your battery replaced by Apple, or do it yourself using the excellent kits and clear information provided by iFixit.
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