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... Sometimes, one just shrugs it off and moves on. In this case, being accused of attempting to perpetrate a fraud is not something I just shrug off and move on. My prior dealings with the store manager have been excellent. This seems out of character for him. He has been there a long time, and the store is generally well run. Perhaps I caught him on a bad day. Nonetheless, the manner in which I was treated is unacceptable, and I don't intend to just shrug it off. At a minimum, an apology is in order....
I generally agree with your thoughts. Three years ago, I experienced an odd episode where an Apple genius strongly insinuated that I was perpetrating a fraud, claiming I brought in fake Apple products for product recall. With a total retail value less than $30, I lost $ from wasting two hours. Like you, I felt treated unacceptably. I sent an email to Apple, hoping for some response, but received nothing. The episode felt so bizarre that I just shrugged it off. Your similar experience makes me wonder if Apple retail training includes fanatical fraud detection. Anyhow, I genuinely hope you receive a better response.
 


Perhaps when a situation like this arises people should bring it up to the consumer reporting divisions of the media, such as NBC Universal's television arm called NBC Investigates / NBC Responds (depending on the television market). I had to do this with a somewhat recent problem with a Verizon Wireless franchise dealer and they were the only ones who could get it resolved. It seems these big companies don't want bad publicity and I'd bet Apple would change their collective corporate tune if people went this route.
 


I had a pretty good experience earlier today at the W 14th St. Apple Store. My iPhone 7's battery was draining rapidly and needed to be replaced. They did pull the SIM to look for moisture (!). The repair was done half an hour sooner than they estimated, but of course they couldn't call me to tell me it was done. About 90 minutes for the whole thing.
 


I just received my beloved 2015 13" MacBook Pro back from Apple Repair. It had a few small spots on the display, which I found out were due to a failure of the anti-reflective coating. While the purchase date was a week outside of Apple's 4-year extended repair program, the store manager waived the service charges.
Macrumors said:
Apple Extends Free Repairs of Anti-Reflective Coating
Apple has extended free repairs of anti-reflective coating issues for select MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

Apple has authorized coverage within four years from the original purchase date of affected models, according to an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers and later obtained by MacRumors.

Eligible models, listed below, qualify for a free display replacement within the four-year coverage period. Check your receipt to determine the exact purchase date of your MacBook or MacBook Pro.

• MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2013)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2013)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2013)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2014)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2014)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2015)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2015)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017)
• MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
• MacBook (12-inch, Early 2015)
• MacBook (12-inch, Early 2016)
• MacBook (12-inch, Early 2017)
This Mac was used exclusively in clamshell mode with a Thunderbolt 2 dock and external displays. (I was surprised to see the coating failed all by itself with hardly any exposure to the environment.) When I dropped it off at the Apple Store, I made a point to show the Genius that it was in absolutely perfect condition. To my surprise, there were no issues whatsoever with it after the repair. (FWIW, this is the first time in a while I've been very pleased with their service.)

#applequality
 


I recorded some video files for the radio station I work at on my iPhone 8 (after recently upgrading to iOS 13). I needed to quickly turn the files around for use for a deadline.

I connected my iPhone to my computer as usual and got a message that I needed to install some software to transfer files between my phone and Photos.app on my computer. I had just recently upgraded my iOS from the stable 12.4.1 to 13.1.2, and I was running a 2011 iMac with Mac OS 10.11.6 El Capitan. The error message looked very old-school, and I worried it was a hack of some sort, so I declined to install. But, sure enough, the connection to my computer was blocked.

I tried to sort out if the program was the real thing, only to find out it was. So I tried to find the program on the apple.com site but had no luck finding it. I kept reading and found that a system upgrade would likely solve the problem, so I upgraded to macOS 10.12.6, but that didn't help.

I tried using my work computer, which had the same problem communicating with the Photos program. This time I installed the suggested software. I rebooted the computer then, and the phone. It would show the photos on the iPhone but said the files were corrupted, though they would play normally on the phone itself. I then tried Image Capture, which could also see the video files but also gave me a corrupt file error. By then, the deadline was blown.

I called Apple Support, and their Tier 1 assistant asked me if I'd tried all the basic things (including rebooting). They passed me on to the "Creative Media Dept"... or rather put me on hold while they waited 10 min. for a call back, then 20, then 30, then at 35, the assistant came back on to say they haven't responded and that this is the busy time of day.

Needing to make an appointment, I rescheduled a callback for 5:30 EDT (not with the "Creative Media" dept., but with another Tier 1 assistant who would transfer me.) I waited until a little after 6, did a task away from the phone. When I came back I found an email with a time stamp of 5:57 saying we tried to reach you. So I called back. I got a Tier 1 assistant again, and went through another 10 minutes of waiting for "the Creative Media Dept." I decided to look for on-line answers while I waited another 10 minutes.

At this point, I thought maybe I should try using a Gdrive to offload the video, but that didn't work. While I waited for the progress circle to show it was working I had time to see a lot of on-line complaints about iOS 13. None about my issue, but the picture I was getting is that a lot of unhappy people are probably trying to get a fix for various issues on their iOS upgraded phones.

The assistant came on again to tell me to wait another 10 min. Frustrated, I complained that I was upset that Apple is releasing this untested software and expecting us to pick up the pieces. I also said it was a bad business model to have so many releases with so little testing and no warnings about what you might have to do to actually get your phone to connect to the computer later. As I waited, I tracked the call length, it was up to 35 minutes. When I next looked, the call had been terminated.

Irritated, but better informed, I realized that I was likely completely on my own. After dinner I pondered what to do and thought maybe I should try wetransfer.com to export the video files. Taking one file at a time, I tried to send it to another email address. I expected failure but was surprised to find that it worked. So I eventually was slowly able to move the files. When I tested them, they worked. They weren't corrupt as the Photos and Image Capture programs indicated.

I still don't know what is wrong. Perhaps some other people are affected in the same way. It's clear to me that I need to do more research before installing iOS updates. It's also clear that the entire Apple model of all-beta software all the time is crumby. It is a nuisance to have to update your apps on the phone every few days. What for? Developers need to provide stable updates, but I guess if Apple is putting out such crappy software, I guess it's no wonder that their developers do, too. What other choice to they have? The idea of a machine that is as simple as a toaster seems to be forgotten these days.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... As I waited, I tracked the call length, it was up to 35 minutes. When I next looked, the call had been terminated....
While this miserable experience does point out problems with Apple's pace of change, lack of documentation, and possibly quality problems, the one thing that stands out as grossly unacceptable is the abysmal "support" you received. (Obviously, our time is worth nothing, because I've had the same kinds of unacceptable experiences lately, in contrast to how things used to be with Apple).

What's even worse, I'm guessing, is that the answer to the problem is likely very simple...


If Apple support can't even clue a customer in to its own simple, documented support solution to a problem it created itself, and, instead, wastes hours of the customer's time, while defaulting on promises... well, what's the point of paying double the price for Apple products that are becoming less reliable, more user-hostile, more intrusive, more abusive, etc.?
 



According to Apple Support, I successfully downloaded the recovery partition or whatever it takes to start the reinstall of the operating system. That did not ask for Apple ID. Nor did it ask when I tried to start the reinstall of the OS. When I did a successful internet reinstall of the OS the first time I got it back, it didn't ask for any information from me at all and it worked over my non-password wireless network (not WEP, no security at all). On the other hand, since it demanded a password for the network maybe the firmware is so screwed up it didn't know what it was supposed to be doing in the earlier installs.

I tried the Command/R and Command/Option/R recoveries, I didn't know about the third one.

I still don't understand why, with my bootable USB full installer, I would need an internet connection.
Finally winding up this long hiatus without a working Mac. It went back the third time on Sept 25, and Apple agreed Disk Utility didn't show the internal disk (on a soldered-in 2018 MacBook Pro). The repair report just said they did a fresh install and it passes hardware diagnostics. When it arrived back to me, it seemed OK, but it couldn't do an internet restore. The same 2002F error.

Apple Customer Relations agreed to send us a new 2019 model in exchange, and I hope it arrives in the next couple of weeks. It will have been two months in the repair process.
 


[FYI]
The Register said:
We lose money on repairs, sobs penniless Apple, even though we charge y'all a fortune
It can be tough in the repair industry, and no one knows that better than struggling corporation Apple.

Cupertino has long been criticized for trying to control what its customers can do with their products, and especially so for charging what critics have said in an unjustifiable mark-up on repairing everything from iPhones to MacBooks.

But it’s just not true, the iGiant revealed this week to US Congress: in fact, despite charging between double and triple what other repair shops charge for fixing problems, Apple (2018 profit: $60bn) actually loses money on its repair business...
 


The Register said:
In addition to the Register's article, I would add that another reason is because Apple doesn't ever do board-level repairs, and they don't allow their authorized service people to do them either. If a tiny $0.10 capacitor is blown, Apple will replace the motherboard. Presumably the board will be sent to a factory to be refurbished and used on another customer, but that's still creating massive amounts of unnecessary overhead, compared to a shop that is able to do the board-level repair, which will replace the capacitor for a few cents and an hour's labor.

The same arguments can be made for replacing other components that are unnecessarily permanently attached to other components, including batteries, keyboards, screens, charge ports, etc. They force most shops to replace entire high-priced subsystems when something smaller and less expensive is all that is actually broken.
 



... and this is why everyone should support right-to-repair bills, requiring Apple to publish the technical data needed to repair its computers, as well as making all the necessary components available.

As Louis Rossmann and others have amply demonstrated on YouTube, there are folk out there who may do a better job than Apple repairing gear. It's evident that these independent repair operations have spent a small fortune on the professional tools needed to diagnose, find, and repair board-level issues (plus building the necessary personal skills).

However, how are Rossmann et al supposed to replace components when Apple has a small army of components now that are made exclusively for the company and are not available on the wider market? I'm not talking Apple-designed stuff like the T2 chip or the CPUs. Rather, it is more mundane stuff like power management chips that are essential to operating a computer yet which can be an Apple-only exclusive.

I don't buy the usual argument that publishing the circuit board interconnect data, making chips available, etc. actually fuels hacking, etc. Rather, it forces Apple to start designing better boards by making issues visible for all to see and evaluate. Holding customers hostage by restricting them to a limited set of Apple-authorized repair centers is similarly unacceptable.

That said, I do expect with the issues raised by the Bloomberg article re: component level attacks for Apple to design the T-series of chips to start querying a greater and greater number of chips on the motherboard at the time of manufacture and lock things down, should the hashed serial numbers not match at a later time.

FWIW, this is an ongoing issue in the farm belt, where John Deere and other equipment OEMs are trying to lock up the lucrative repair business. Sensors, sub-systems, etc. are locked in at time of manufacture and should a farmer attempt a fix, the whole machine will go on strike. Only authorized OEM repair people can "bless" repairs / replacements.

Should you be someone at risk of nation-state snooping, I suppose this level of control could be construed as a great feature. However, in the context of non-Apple repair, it's problematic even if Apple is required to allow customers to come in just to have the T2 "bless" the new component with a little help from the genius bar. Any two-step repair solution will steer customers straight to Apple.
 



...If a tiny $0.10 capacitor is blown, Apple will replace the motherboard. Presumably the board will be sent to a factory to be refurbished and used on another customer, but that's still creating massive amounts of unnecessary overhead, compared to a shop that is able to do the board-level repair, which will replace the capacitor for a few cents and an hour's labor.
If it is more than just a tiny $0.10 cap blown, then that hour can turn into two or three to diagnose and repair the board. However, with a central repair depot, Apple can use automated board testers, which can fully diagnose issues within minutes and then confirm that no other issues exist on the board in a few more minutes, not to mention having all the right tools necessary for the most efficient replacement of bad parts.

It is fairly common in industries that have complex circuit boards at the heart of most of their products to equip service techs with replacement boards for shop or field replacement, and then have the bad boards sent to a central depot that can most efficiently repair the board for reuse in refurbished equipment or replacement boards for the techs to have on hand. However, the automated board testers are too expensive to have in every repair shop.
 



If it is more than just a tiny $0.10 cap blown, then that hour can turn into two or three to diagnose and repair the board...
That’s a bit general. Apple motherboards for generations have suffered from common issues that are usually grouped by the motherboard in question.
  • Titanium PowerBooks got hand-solderd wires to supplement the flaky / insufficient FireWire bus
  • First-gen Apple AirPort base stations blew caps, so did some iMacs
  • Power management chips feature prominently on Mr. Rossman’s channel In more current portable units
Time and time again, every motherboard has known failure points, just like my dishwasher liked frying its PCB around the heater relays. Scanning for bad capacitors is trivial.
However, with a central repair depot, Apple can use automated board testers, which can fully diagnose issues within minutes and then confirm that no other issues exist on the board in a few more minutes, not to mention having all the right tools necessary for the most efficient replacement of bad parts.
I have never visited a Apple repair facility, so I have no idea how automated the place is. That said, all these lovely tools are great right up to the point where Apple declares your machine as obsolete and refuses to repair it. Then what?

In Apple's desired vision of the future, such users will be up a creek without a paddle. Independent shops offer customers an “out” that the OEM may not be willing to supply. Despite the inherent disadvantages in the current environment, Rossmann and company seem to have ample demand. That should tell you something about how happy people are with “Apple authorized” repairs.

If Apple's repair services were awesome, reasonably priced, universally available, etc., then there would be no market for independent repair facilities. Hence, the market has spoken, and I suggest supporting the right to repair for the sake of independent repair facilities, even if you don’t choose to use them. At the very least, even a little competition provides a check on otherwise virtually unlimited monopolistic market power.
 


If Apple's repair services were awesome, reasonably priced, universally available, etc., then there would be no market for independent repair facilities. Hence, the market has spoken, and I suggest supporting the right to repair for the sake of independent repair facilities, even if you don’t choose to use them. At the very least, even a little competition provides a check on otherwise virtually unlimited monopolistic market power.
I agree with this and most of what you say. I was just pointing out why Apple almost certainly has its service set up as it does. It is most efficient for them.
 


I agree with this and most of what you say. I was just pointing out why Apple almost certainly has its service set up as it does. It is most efficient for them.
Thing is, the setup you describe should be more cost effective than Mr. Rossmann operating out of a repair facility in NYC, where the cost of living is high.

The complaint that they're losing money on all this likely has more to do with bad choices on their part than the viability of repairing CPUs in the first place. Put another way, why does Apple oppose competition in a market that is allegedly unattractive to them? Why does Apple oppose right to repair when it could better serve its share holders by:
  1. Publishing interconnect diagrams / schematics
  2. Making private label / Apple-proprietary components available
  3. Increasing company profit by letting others perform allegedly non-profitable post-warranty repairs.
Mr. Cook can't have it both ways.
 


Thing is, the setup you describe should be more cost effective than Mr. Rossmann operating out of a repair facility in NYC, where the cost of living is high.
...
Why does Apple oppose right to repair when it could better serve its share holders by:
  1. Publishing interconnect diagrams / schematics
  2. Making private label / Apple-proprietary components available
  3. Increasing company profit by letting others perform allegedly non-profitable post-warranty repairs.
Mr. Cook can't have it both ways.
This seems to be an apples to oranges comparison (no pun intended!). You can’t compare costs between a small shop and a multi-national corporation. Salaries and other overheads can be many multiples different. Apple minimizes its repair costs, including warranty costs per unit with increasing quantity of repairs to amortize the very high costs of the automated equipment (and, especially the one-time development cost for each unique board design). Schematics and other design details may contain valuable trade secrets that are easily justifiable (at least for a few years after product introduction). Publication of schematics and design issues is a major cost itself that can expose Apple to liabilities for errors or tie their hands for production run changes that may be important not to publicize (to save embarrassment or whatever). These are costs that can increase significantly if published externally.

It is likely that Apple’s repair efforts (excluding warranty services) are both not profitable to Apple, and not competitive with smaller shops, although profits for both cases are also not measured the same and probably not being fairly compared. It is very likely that Apple does not balance well the conflicts between customer interest and Apple’s corporate interests. It is certain the Apple’s legitimate interests will have many conflicts with the legitimate interests of independent sales and service shops. Your questions above imply that these interests should better align, and that is not a reasonable expectation.
 


... Schematics and other design details may contain valuable trade secrets that are easily justifiable (at least for a few years after product introduction). Publication of schematics and design issues is a major cost itself that can expose Apple to liabilities for errors or tie their hands for production run changes that may be important not to publicize (to save embarrassment or whatever).
Louis Rossman has said on several occasions that he would be willing to pay for a subscription and sign an NDA in order to have access to chips and schematics. With such a system, these liabilities are minimized, if not eliminated, especially when the current situation involves the same shops getting the same content on the black market, where there is no traceability and where most recipients remain anonymous. (Louis is one of the few that publicly talks about using these documents.)

I completely understand that Apple want to be the sole source of repair. They want to tell you if, when and how your computer can be fixed and they don't want you to have any other options. If they can force older broken computers into landfills, then they will (theoretically) sell more new units to those customers. But it is just sleazy and deceptive to lie about this and claim that independent repair shops are all scamming customers and that Apple's heavy-handed policies somehow make the customer experience better.
 


Schematics and other design details may contain valuable trade secrets that are easily justifiable (at least for a few years after product introduction). Publication of schematics and design issues is a major cost itself that can expose Apple to liabilities for errors or tie their hands for production run changes that may be important not to publicize (to save embarrassment or whatever). These are costs that can increase significantly if published externally.
I disagree. It's easy enough to put in a EULA that reflects that the schematics are furnished on a best-effort basis. There are no trade secrets in how stuff was put together when anyone can buy the product and reverse-engineer it on the spot. Bone-headed decisions such as using cheap capacitors, poor layouts, etc. will be plenty evident.

As Mr. Rossmann shows on his videos, there are already service providers out there that reverse-engineer the schematics. Apple's refusal to publish schematics (which, for the record they did early on in the history of Apple) is simply another barrier put up to keep the competition out. We've down this road before. Security through obscurity does not make products safer or spare Apple of embarrassment when stuff fails en-masse.

Your questions above imply that these interests should better align, and that is not a reasonable expectation.
We can agree to disagree.

However, I see a semantic disconnect between complaining that repairs are not profitable yet plenty of folk being successful running these businesses despite the increasing roadblocks that Apple has been throwing up over the years.

If Apple is truly unprofitable at making post-warranty repairs, I suspect it has more to do with corporate cost allocation and other financial engineering than actual costs vs. revenues. For example, you could use "creative" transfer pricing for proprietary chips, motherboard assemblies, etc. to transfer profits abroad while appearing to be non-profitable in markets with higher local taxes. Why else was all of Apple's IP headquartered in Ireland and now in Jersey?

Apple has the circuit designs, the scale, in-house access to proprietary chips, and the automated factory testing gear to enable diagnosis and repair with an ease that independent competitors can only dream of. If Apple can't compete profitably despite all these inherent advantages, what else do they need to compete? Oh, right, additional legislative protection, courtesy of the US taxpayer!

There is plenty that I like Mr. Cook for, such as his principled stand re: privacy. However, in this instance, Mr. Cook is furthering a false narrative and he should be called out for it.

Plenty of car companies face the same issue re: independents vs. in-network / dealer repair and the bottom line is that no car company has ever gone out of business because they had to make error codes, spare parts, or other repair-related gear available on the open market. What competition has done is create a check on the market abuses of said car companies re: being able to hold customers hostage.

It should be no different with other expensive gear such as computers, home HVAC systems, and the like. Every industry is trying to do the same thing as Apple, which is to make repairs even more profitable than they already are by trying to block out the competition, make products un-repairable by out-of-network service providers, etc. Here are some samples from my own life:
  • The parts alone for a broken outdoor condenser fan motor were quoted at $900+ (plus labor). I replaced the broken fan motor with a generic equivalent (same efficiency, same RPM) for less than $200.
  • A condenser fan failure on our fridge was going to cost $136 for the OEM-supplier part or $76 for a more efficient equivalent (PSC vs. ECM, for those who care)
  • A windshield wiper motor on my car can be had for $430 new with the car maker logo (call it the equivalent to the Apple tax), $130 new from the OEM-supplier, or $28 used on eBay. Given that my car is almost 20 years old, had the original wiper motor all its life and that it only failed after a unfortunate encounter with 3" of ice, guess which motor I bought and installed?
Bottom line: please support right to repair in your state. It will save you money even if you don't use the services of a independent repair facility.
 




Actually, if Apple wouldn't make Macs that earned a "1" out of 10 from iFixit, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
LOL. That reminds me of my latest iPhone 6 battery repair with a genuine Apple-branded iFixit-sourced battery resulting in no battery health monitoring being possible because... oh right, I did the replacement, not Apple and hence I'm not allowed anymore to know how healthy my iPhone battery is. Only they get to successfully marry specific batteries to specific phones due to "security" or mumble mumble.
 


My client's 2011 MacBook Pro 17" finally had its video card fry. I could have tried replacing the card, but we all know how ephemeral that fix is. So I had to recommend a Mac for him and, of course, the new 16" MacBook Pro was it, simply because its keyboard sucks less. Still a "1" out of "10" at iFixit. I ordered AppleCare+ for [potential defects] in this newly released machine.
 


While Apple can play all the games it wants regarding devices still under warranty, I see no reason why Apple could not release the schematics and part sources for products in their lineup which have been moved to vintage or obsolete status. There is nothing to be gained or lost.
The most logical explanation is that Apple believes they will lose sales of new computers if they enable the repair of old ones.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
FYI:
Wired said:
Right-to-Repair Groups Don't Buy Apple’s Answers to Congress
Last week, Apple responded to a series of questions that the US House Judiciary Committee sent to it back in September as part of a broader antitrust probe. In addition to addressing questions about App Store policies, its web browser Safari, and the company’s data collection practices, Apple also answered a series of questions about its hardware repair programs. It emphasized that it doesn’t restrict repairs or refuse to repair gadgets that might have been fixed previously by unauthorized technicians.

For right-to-repair advocates, though, Apple’s answers weren’t good enough. Proponents of a more open source approach to repairing gadgets say that Apple’s on-the-record responses are examples of “expert question-dodging” and, in some cases, are “downright false.”
 


That article hits the issue on the head - Apple has a official tendency to simply swap major subassemblies (such as the motherboard) instead of focusing on the one part that may have failed (i.e. power supply manager).

I'd expect the boards they yank to be sent to another facility for board-level repairs, qualification (using the same testing equipment they already developed for their assembly lines), followed by sending them back to the "repair depot" for the next motherboard swap.

This set of actions could easily lead the "repair operations" to look unprofitable on paper - because the profit is transferred to the division actually doing the board repair, not the "repair" facility that is nothing more than a glorified part-swapping operation. The way you'd do it is:
  • Have the "repair depot" sell its broken motherboard at scrap value to the "actual repair" division (it's broken, right?).
  • Diagnose the issue there with automated test equipment. If the part is too expensive to replace, junk the board (unlikely).
  • If cost-effective repair is possible (and most are), perform a board-level repair, and then resell the repaired motherboard at internal transfer price back to the "repair depot".
  • Hence, create a paper trail detailing how a $700 motherboard can be worthless prior to repair followed by being worth $700 again post-repair. The repairs may only "cost" a few dollars in parts, resulting in a potential 90+% profit margin.
Move the "actual repair" location offshore and you can take advantage of
  • low labor rates, government subsidies, etc. from governments eager to attract high-tech jobs
  • whatever tax shenanigans you want to. The profit ($700 minus scrap, labor and parts) doesn't show up at the repair depot P&L.
The above allows Tim to claim that "repair depots" are not profitable... depressing US tax obligations... well, sure, because the company just transferred the associated profits abroad while also reducing US tax obligations!

The board-level test equipment which is allegedly so difficult and expensive to develop is something Apple has to do as part of every production run anyway. Every computer coming off the assembly line is tested via the exact same equipment for functionality. The initial cost of developing this equipment is high, but subsequent "copies" of said test equipment for testing and repair are comparatively inexpensive.

Apple has the scale and every advantage in the book to make their repair operations wildly profitable. Claiming that they cannot compete profitably with repair shops operating at a much lower scale, in a higher-cost-of-living environment, and with limited access to chips, diagrams, etc. simply does not pass the laugh test.
 


That article hits the issue on the head - Apple has a official tendency to simply swap major subassemblies (such as the motherboard) instead of focusing on the one part that may have failed (i.e. power supply manager).
I'd expect the boards they yank to be sent to another facility for board-level repairs, qualification (using the same testing equipment they already developed for their assembly lines), followed by sending them back to the "repair depot" for the next motherboard swap.
This set of actions could easily lead the "repair operations" to look unprofitable on paper - because the profit is transferred to the division actually doing the board repair, not the "repair" facility that is nothing more than a glorified part-swapping operation. ...
You could be right. I don't know. I do know how one major electronics manufacturer does this, as I developed some automated board repair tools for them. This huge company did build computers but was not a direct competitor to Apple. The repair depot did reuse some of the automated test software that was usedin manufacturing their boards but had far more test scripts just for repair purposes. The validation equipment used in manufacturing was mostly different than the automated test equipment used in board repairs, and the only reuse of software could be done where the equipment was the exact same. However, the software specification and architecture was pretty much the same for any given board, and that part of the software development costs could be shared.

There was zero overlap between production facilities and repair facilities, and I expect the same is true for Apple. That means that the repair facilities are part and parcel of the repair operations and will not have the separation of profits and losses discussed. You may be correct that the board repair depot may be much more (or perhaps less) profitable than the service centers that do the board swaps, but the total profits are what I believe Tim was describing as not quite profitable.

The bottom line, for me, is that Apple is not as customer friendly regarding repairability and service as they could be, as I would prefer, but the explanations I frequently hear castigating them for it do not make good sense to me....
 


... the total profits are what I believe Tim was describing as not quite profitable.
As the article points out, Apple is very careful in how they phrase things... full of misleading statements that may make sense in the Apple universe but are at odds with how non-Apple humans understand them. This sort of misdirection and/or ambiguity may be good enough for the PR flacks, but it doesn't necessarily reflect reality.

It's simple enough for Apple to support those kinds of statements... where are the audited, detailed P&L's illustrating all aspects of a typical repair (i.e. disassembly + testing at service depot, swap-out, send-off to repair, diagnosis, repair, return to service depot, eventual re-installation in another customers computer)? Where is the detailed analysis that forms the why things are unprofitable?

For example, where is the data submitted under penalty of perjury related to gross labor rates at the depots, COGS related to common repairs by Axxxx platform (i.e. laptops, desktops, watch, phone, pad, etc.), percentage of boards scrapped due to excess damage, overhead assigned to the repair facilities, etc? Let's break things down a bit and then we can perhaps start to have a basis for comparison.

For all we know, it might be that Apple is insanely picky re repairs and will only ship stuff back to the service depot that is as pristine as a freshly-assembled board running off the assembly line. However, that has more to do with Apple than the repair business...

Let's also acknowledge the inherent tension within a company between the divisions that support repair vs. replacements. Apple makes a ton of money with new sales and claims it makes a loss with repairs. In the car and appliance businesses, that model is frequently the reverse - far more money is made with spare parts. Further restricting repair options by making parts, schematics, etc unobtainable only points to:
  • The repair business is also insanely profitable (once any artificial anchors on profit imposed by financial engineering / tax optimization / etc. have been removed) and/or
  • the new sales division wants to goose sales of new stuff by lowering the switching cost (by raising the repair cost).
Again, if repairs are unprofitable, it's easy enough for Apple to publish the relevant info, open access to private-label chips, and let others have a go at it. I want to give Apple the benefit of the doubt. However, all sorts of companies operating at a severe disadvantage relative to Apple are making money where Apple claims it cannot. The facts simply do not add up.
 


I disagree. It's easy enough to put in a EULA that reflects that the schematics are furnished on a best-effort basis. There are no trade secrets in how stuff was put together when anyone can buy the product and reverse-engineer it on the spot.
I have been purchasing scientific equipment for decades. Virtually all manufacturers no longer include detailed schematics. Years ago, such schematics were standard and were very useful for repair of expensive equipment and custom modifications to facilitate innovative applications. No more. Now, you are lucky to get a cursory description of how the instrument works, which might include a very schematic flow chart-type diagram. Repairs are done by replacing whole boards, generally with the mandated assistant of a company technician.
I don't think Apple is doing anything different than the rest of the electronic industry. Alas.
 


I don't think Apple is doing anything different than the rest of the electronic industry. Alas.
If this is true, this is a sad commentary on where "innovation" and "technical advances" have taken our goods-and-services economy, driven primarily by the first-sale of new goods that we've become shamefully wasteful of (and I'm not a recycling fan-boy).

I, too, worked for an electronics manufacturer (an ECM) – granted, more on the industrial side of things, but component-level repair work was a very real thing – BGA's, legacy thru-hole and all.
 


I have been purchasing scientific equipment for decades. Virtually all manufacturers no longer include detailed schematics. Years ago, such schematics were standard and were very useful for repair of expensive equipment and custom modifications to facilitate innovative applications. No more. Now, you are lucky to get a cursory description of how the instrument works, which might include a very schematic flow chart-type diagram. Repairs are done by replacing whole boards, generally with the mandated assistant of a company technician.
I don't think Apple is doing anything different than the rest of the electronic industry. Alas.
I remember when Motorola TVs had the 'works in a drawer' to facilitate repair. I suspect that the works in a drawer was a series of cards that allowed the repair person to pull the defective card and replace it, reducing the on site time expenditure. Not a lot different from Apple [replacing whole subsystems]. I suspect that making electronic stuff both repairable and having a business repairing electronics is a lot tougher than we might expect. I understand the irritation of the price of parts and often wondered if I was being taking advantage of. For example, replacing the element in an range oven could be a significant percentage of the cost of a new stove, or at least it was back when ranges were less complicated. Some industries seem to have done better, such as car repair parts. As manufacturing has become more efficient and lower cost, the repair industry has atrophied. Anyone want to fix a 35 dollar microwave? (My first microwave oven was about $300 with a GE employee discount.)

I do think that I am colored by the fact that I have really only had one Apple device being repaired. It was the video card in an iMac many years ago.
 


...I do think that I am colored by the fact that I have really only had one Apple device being repaired. It was the video card in an iMac many years ago.
On the other hand, my first Mac was one of the infamous Performa series. Apple did not make a good first impression.
 



If this is true, this is a sad commentary on where "innovation" and "technical advances" have taken our goods-and-services economy, driven primarily by the first-sale of new goods that we've become shamefully wasteful of (and I'm not a recycling fan-boy).
The recycling point is under-appreciated. For example, as companies like Apple push us away from wired devices toward wireless, battery powered devices, it's worth noting that the countries with the highest recycling rates currently recycle less than 5% of the lithium ion batteries in the waste stream.
American Chemical Society said:
 


Years ago, such schematics were standard and were very useful for repair of expensive equipment and custom modifications to facilitate innovative applications. No more....I don't think Apple is doing anything different than the rest of the electronic industry. Alas.
Agreed, but to the extent possible, those who do publish the diagrams should be chosen over the ones that don't. Paul Stoffregen and his team publish schematics for his Arduino-compatible MCUs.

As an opposite example, I remember this episode [YouTube] on the EEVBlog where it became apparent that Rigol was abusing Analog Devices ADC chips for their oscilloscopes and wanted to cover up same... by crudely grinding the AD logo and chip identifiers off the ADC chips...
countries with the highest recycling rates currently recycle less than 5% of the lithium ion batteries in the waste stream.
As I understand it, no one has yet perfected the extraction of said lithium without occasional exciting moments as the the mixture goes up in flames or worse.
 


The recycling point is under-appreciated. For example, as companies like Apple push us away from wired devices toward wireless, battery powered devices, it's worth noting that the countries with the highest recycling rates currently recycle less than 5% of the lithium ion batteries in the waste stream.
On the other hand, I believe we are very successful at recycling lead in batteries for both gel cells and car batteries.
 


Those were the days... you could fix the TV just by pulling a tube and getting a replacement at Radio Shack. But now electronics have these "integrated circuits", where all the transistors are in a sealed package. You have to replace the entire IC when one transistor fails! ...
Even in the era of discrete ICs, it was relatively easy to find and replace a bad device. Today most electronic devices are comprised of an SoC (System on Chip), memory, storage, and a power supply. There's not much there to easily diagnose and repair.
 


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