Apple tells U.S. Congress they’ve lost money on repair services since 2009

Apple has told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the company loses more money than it makes when repairing devices such as MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads.

BBC News:

Answering questions from US politicians investigating anti-competitive practices, Apple said it had lost money on repair services since 2009… But the company also said customers were “free to obtain repairs from any repair shop of their choice.”

In September, Apple was sent a list of questions by a US House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating “competition in digital markets.” Responding to the US committee, Apple said: “Repairs performed by untrained technicians might not follow proper safety and repair procedures and could result in improper function, product quality issues or safety events.”

Asked whether it took any action to block consumers from seeking an unauthorised repair, the company said: “Apple does not take any actions to block consumers from seeking out or using repair shops that offer a broader range of repairs than those offered by Apple’s authorised technicians.”

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in August:

This is not a “we want to make a profit on battery replacements” issue. Apple has and makes more than enough money on myriad other products and services. This is a safety issue.

Scams abound in the unauthorized iPhone battery business and theses batteries are capable of doing much damage if not properly handled and installed.

Earlier this year, ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reported that iPhone owners who purchase replacement batteries from third-party outlets need to be careful because it’s possible for them to be ripped off as it’s easy to take old iPhone batteries and “reset” them to make them look like new units. Kingsley-Hughes also reports that “the third-party market is also awash with cheap and nasty counterfeit batteries that are potentially unsafe.”

Which is why we cringe every time some frangamdroid loser shuffles aboard our plane with a piece of Samsung junk (which are notorious for battery explosions and fires)… It’s only a matter of time.MacDailyNews, July 26, 2019


  1. I think safety is only a part of it, it’s mainly a brand protection issue, improper repairs or parts that cause an iPhone to melt will automatically be pinned on Apple.

    I might have more sympathy if Apple handled the butterfly keyboard fiasco better but they didn’t. Many of their “repairs” consist of total motherboard replacements for minor issues or total product replacements, often costing customers unnecessary $100s. Maybe they’ve decided at their scale doing what Louis Rossman does isn’t efficient for them, but there’s more than enough evidence to conclude it’s a bottom line issue. Why get an inexpensive repair at a shop when you can be upsold on a new $1000+ product or charged $500+ for an Apple-certified “repair”?

    1. “often costing customers unnecessary $100s”
      The butterfly keyboard fiasco is a bad example. I took my laptop in, they replaced the top case and had it back to me in two hours. Free. Is there a better way than “Free” to handle that?

  2. I’m going to speak of Macs here, because this is where “right to repair” makes more sense.

    The safety issue is valid primarily for batteries. But if Apple designs the rest of the hardware such that it’s impossible to get at a part without ripping the battery out, that’s entirely their fault. It’s the equivalent of designing a human body where the only way to do surgery on the heart or other organs is through the back and risk damaging the spine.

    Laptops where replacing a SINGLE KEY on a keyboard requires a week in the shop and removing 90% of the internals to get to? That’s a travesty of terrible design. As are iMacs produced by a thinness fetishist, that require ungluing the screen to get to the drive, or the inability to upgrade RAM and storage on iMacs.

    Modern iMacs and Macbooks are designed to extract as much money as possible from the consumer up front with un-upgradeable RAM and SSDs. Don’t turn around and whine that it loses you money whenever you have to service one of them. Zero sympathy.

    1. You’ve made Apple’s point excellently. Apple has designed systems that, by the way they’ve been made, are expensive to repair. RAM go bad? ENTIRE MOTHERBOARD REPLACEMENT! So, of COURSE they’re losing money on the repair business. Doesn’t sound like whining or that they’re looking for sympathy. Just saying that they are a multi-billion dollar multinational business that doesn’t make a profit off of repairs.

      They don’t HAVE to, they’re making HUGE profits all over the place. 🙂

    2. Right on moss. I’m fed up with all the thinness mess. Enough is enough. I travel internationally often and my old Pismo PowerBook was not a bit too heavy or big. Easily replaceable RAM, drive, even battery. Plus it has the very best keyboard my old fingers have ever touched. Apple ruing laptop design in some ways.

    3. First, the cost of repair is a design factor that falls under Apple’s responsibility, and they know this because they not only have to offer an initial warranty, but they sell extended warranties. If Apple is “losing money on every repair”, then they’ve mis-priced how much they internally budget for warranties as well as how much they charge for AppleCare. Again, fault is 100% Apple’s.

      Second, it is trivially easy for a corporation – especially a large one – to “cook the books” to make a certain operation appear profitable, or to make it a big money pit. As such, I don’t believe the claim … I want to see the books. All of the books, in enough detail to see if a particular division gets treated differently than the others. After all we all know that 3rd Parties are quite able to undercut Apple’s retail prices on many services.

      Third, this “loss leader” -sort argument is just too damn politically convenient.

      Finally, getting down into technical weeds on things like battery safety … that’s nonsensical, because it again points back to the parameters of product design for who Apple is the responsible party.

      1. “then they’ve mis-priced how much they internally budget for warranties”
        No, the returns/repairs department of ANY company is the loss leader. The way businesses have been doing business for years is now “politically convenient?” 🙂

        So you CLAIM to be in pain when I jab you with a knife, that’s just too damn politically convenient. You’re just making up an excuse to make me stop jabbing you with a knife!

        “I want to see the books. All of the books,”
        Oh come on, even if they showed you ALL the books, you’d be like “ALL YOU’VE SHOWN ME ARE THESE USELESS FACTS! YOU NEED TO SHOW ME DATA THAT PROVES THE POINT I’M MAKING! Or, I’ll just be FORCED to make it up.

    1. YOU earn too much on everything you do. See how that works, comrade? If you can say someone “earns to much” by your criteria, everyone else can say you earn too much by theirs. Hand it over, comrade, or be a hypocrite.

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