Few companies have withstood the Watergate syndrome and prospered as Apple has prospered. Remember Antenna-gate, MobileMe, U2-gate, Maps-gate, Crack-gate, Slow-gate, Yellow-gate, Bend-gate, Scratch-gate.
Bend-ghazi was my favorite, but you get the idea. Controversy swirls around every little issue that pops up with Apple’s products. So, what has the company done to combat all those Watergate-isms? Build a better mousetrap.
Rent, Lease, or Buy?
Last year’s Bendgate PR disaster was the funniest yet (at least, since, “You’re holding it wrong“) and mostly because it was ridiculously silly. Every such device will bend and crack when enough pressure is applied.
Apple did not ignore the issue, though, and the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are hardened to an unprecedented degree. They’ll still bend, but not as easily or frequently, thanks to a different type of aluminum case and glass, and an internal structural change.
What did Apple go to all the trouble to rebuild the iPhone into a stronger, harder, thicker, heavier product. I think there was an ulterior motive that goes beyond clownish Bend-gate behavior.
Apple introduced a new way to buy iPhones. Rather, a new way to get a new iPhone every year. It’s called the iPhone Upgrade Program, and the way it works is drop dead simple. Pay a flat monthly fee and you rent (lease, subscribe also work) an iPhone for two years. At the end of year one, turn it back into Apple, get a new iPhone, then start the two year clock again.
That’s a good deal for frequent updaters, a good deal for Apple (and probably for whichever bank Apple uses to do the money deal), and it’s a very good deal for the used iPhone market which often provides older iPhones for more than the price of brand new Android phones.
A hardened, more durable iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will last longer and be worth more on the used iPhone market. Apple isn’t building in planned obsolescence as much as it is building in planned turnover; those who can afford it get Apple’s latest and greatest, and those with less money (perhaps in emerging markets) get a solid, durable, and affordable pre-owned (or, rather, pre-rented) iPhone.
Hidden in all the tough hardware upgrades that Apple put in the new iPhone line is a tougher, more durable product that will fare well on the used iPhone market.
Win, win, win.