The Price Of Innovation? About $199

Last week, I popped into my local Apple store for back-to-back-to-back appointments with the Geniuses (or Genii) at the Bar.

First port of call was my own iPhone and its radical draining battery. Turns out the problem was my 17,000 apps independently calling for “background app refresh” and “location services” all at the same time. Problem solved, one for one.

Next up was my daughter’s beyond-smashed and dysfunctional iPhone. This is when things got hairy. I was told it would cost $199 for a new phone. I explained I had AppleCare and they acknowledged this, but informed me that my two-year warranty had expired.

Enter the worst bait-and-switch in the history of not-so-smartphones. Obviously the idea is to get people to upgrade to new phones. In this case, my daughter’s iPhone 4S could easily have been upgraded to a 5 or 5S (with Two-year contract of course), but as it turns out, she -- quite understandably -- is holding out for an iPhone 6.



Only Apple is not operating on the same page as my daughter (who I suspect she is not the exception, but the overwhelming majority now) and as a result, is lagging behind pretty radically in the high-stakes game of innovation. The Apple 4S came out on Oct. 14, 2011 and my daughter’s phone was purchased in May, 2012. It’s now August 2014 and all we hear from the too-cool-for-school Blueshirts is thestandard response: “We don’t know when the anticipated mythical iPhone 6 announcement is going to echo from the heavens.”

Why not? Why wouldn’t you inform your own people when your overdue phone is ready? Why constantly trade on innuendo, hype and secrecy? That’s soooo Steve Jobs-era and 2011!

After switching Blueshirts three times and apparently talking to the store “manager,” I found out that I could purchase a phone for $199 and then trade it in when I was ready. At today’s rate, I would get $125 for the phone. But a) the rate fluctuates daily (I’m a day trader now?), b) the phone would have to be in pristine condition (did I mention, this was for my teenage daughter?) and c) I would have to use the store credit for a new iPhone from the Apple store.

The problem here is that Apple is being out-innovated (outsmarted?) by AT&T and the like. AT&T now has “Next” that allows customers to swap out old phones (defined as older than a day) for the latest and greatest with two provisions: 1. The “lease” renews and 2. It has to be done in an AT&T store. That’s AT&T 1, Apple 0 for those keeping score in-store.

To make matters worse, I explained to “the manager” that I was literally (my third appointment that day) about to purchase a new MacBook Air and spend up to $3,000 in the process in their store, making it the 11th active i-device in my household. Yes, there is a “kick me” sign on my back right now.

You would think the manager would be “empowered” to make me an offer. How about meeting me halfway at $100? Nope.

How many people were in the exact same situation as myself, do you think? I didn’t have to think for too long. There was one person sitting right next to me with the exact same problem: a horribly cracked iPhone 4S screen, waiting for the 6, and oops… expired AppleCare.

How many tens, hundreds, thousands of people are walking into Apple stores every single day experiencing the exact same poor customer experience? The mind boggles.

It would appear that innovation -- or rather, the lack thereof -- has a value: It’s $199. When multiplied by tens of thousands of dissatisfied customers, that comes at a rather steep price.

7 comments about "The Price Of Innovation? About $199".
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  1. Tom Anderson from Plethora Mobile, August 5, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.

    We all feel this pain and we're chained down to our own Apple obsession. The only thing you can do to take solace in this is bet with the house. If in 2007 when the first iPhone was released you put that $200 for Apple Care into Apple Stock , you'd have earned yourself a few new iPhones by now.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, August 5, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.

    With all due respect, Joseph, the problem is your fealty to a digital god that has you and yours by the balls. Perhaps the answer is a 12th i-device that monitors your other 11 (you can bet some innovator is working on that one now). Why in the world should Apple care about what you think when you are clearly willing to tolerate 3 hours of bad service to get absolutely no satisfaction -- and pay for it? By the way, all 11 of your i-devices have off switches.

  3. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, August 5, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.

    This is nothing new. Go back to the 1990s, and do a repair -- any repair -- on a generic PC. Then do the identical repair on a Macintosh, and compare the costs.

    The Apple brand name costs.

  4. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, August 5, 2014 at 4:46 p.m.

    @Tom - brilliant idea; @ Mike - It's called Find my iPhone. I think you missed the point of the blind loyalty aside, this is about Apple creating a 2-year cycle of expectations with their customer, which they surprise and delight when they innovate within, and disappoint when they don't.

  5. Anne Peterson from Idaho Public Televsion, August 5, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

    Apple Care must be renewed every two years to stay active, and at least when I have used it, it has been carefully explained in person, on the phone and online. I have had nothing but fair and friendly experiences in my own Apple store and in New York City but each experience will differ.

  6. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, August 5, 2014 at 9:13 p.m.

    @anne - are you saying that I could have renewed AppleCare on an old phone? I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Why didn't Apple send an e-mail or "notification" to warn me that my AppleCare was expiring and that I could renew? Why can't I roll an existing AppleCare onto a newer device?

  7. Anne Peterson from Idaho Public Televsion, August 6, 2014 at 5:13 p.m.

    I have to admit that I haven't checked the website lately but for most Apple products you can renew Apple Care as needed at your expense of course -- I don't usually carry it but did get it for a Mac Mini when the first coverage ran out -- but it's probably lapsed now too, come to think of it. I do think it is device specific. Guess I better go read up on it again.

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