By Alexandra Burlacu | May 11, 2013 01:30 PM EDT
Apple has some changes in line for its AppleCare service and support program, including in-store repairs for iOS devices and warranty subscriptions.
The changes to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ services will reportedly take effect starting this fall, with modifications to current policies likely to reduce costs and make the service more appealing to consumers.
According to AppleInsider, Apple announced the changes in a town hall session on Thursday, May 9, led by Apple Vice President Tara Bunch. The publication cites a "person familiar with the matter" saying that Bunch revealed a set of after sales policy changes that would roll out soon across the U.S., and eventually worldwide. Many of the changes are reportedly part of the "One Apple" brand.
It remains unclear at this point whether the "One Apple" moniker is an internal designation for the broad restructuring set to occur, or whether it will become a consumer term once the new changes take effect.
"The biggest announcement was the way repairs for iPhones will be handled soon," said AppleInsider's source, who spoke under condition of anonymity to protect their current position as an Apple employee. "The way it is now, if almost anything is wrong with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the entire device is exchanged for a like-new re manufactured (sic) device, whether brought into an apple store or sent in for mail in repair. Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer."
Apple Stores currently have the necessary tools to replace only speakers, receivers, home buttons, the battery and the vibrator motor. These capabilities will add display replacement in June and by July customers will be able to get in-store repair services for their devices' cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards. Employees will also have access to advanced diagnostics tools able to remotely assess hardware problems and send the data directly to technicians, which would allow for quicker turnaround times.
According to Bunch, Apple estimates the change in policy will cut costs by nearly $1 billion per year by repairing damaged units rather than replacing them. The new in-house repairs will be rolled out across the U.S, with international support set to go online soon after.
In another major change, the Cupertino giant will reportedly shift its AppleCare service to a subscription model or introduce a new tier, which would refer to a customer rather than a specific product. The proposed system would allow customers to get in-store training similar to the One on One program for Mac buyers, with the warranty covering each device. The overhauled AppleCare service may also add "exclusive" 24/7 support, but this is yet to receive confirmation.
Moreover, Apple may also change the complimentary support structure. The company currently offers free phone support for 90 days with every product. The New AppleCare, meanwhile, could reportedly extend that support to a year or more, and potentially include new live support options such as iMessage chat.
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