Apple replaced 11 million iPhone batteries in 2018, under its $29 battery replacement program. This is a huge increase compared to the average 1-2 million iPhone batteries that Apple replaces annually. These numbers have been shared by John Gruber, sourced from an internal Apple meeting led by Time Cook on January 3. No details from that meeting had leaked before to the public and this is the first time that we have heard any numbers regarding the battery replacement program.
As per John Gruber:
During Apple’s all-hands meeting January 3, Tim Cook said Apple replaced 11 million batteries under the $29 replacement program, and they’d have only anticipated about 1-2 million battery replacements normally. (The fact that Cook held this all-hands meeting was reported by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, but the contents of the meeting haven’t leaked. Well, except for this nugget I’m sharing here.)
Apple had introduced the $29 battery replacement program in 2018 because of the issue with iPhones slowing down when batteries deteriorate. People jumped on this opportunity to replace their batteries for cheap and get back their full device performance. If people could spend $29 to get their device performance to feel like new again, why would they spend $750 and above for a new iPhone?
This huge number of iPhone battery replacements could explain why there have been fewer upgrades to iPhone XS and iPhone XR. A lot of people had been happy with their iPhone X, iPhone 8 and previous devices. Even today, these devices are no slouches in terms of features and performance. Combine Apple’s cheap iPhone battery replacement program with the improve performance benefits of upgrading to iOS 12, and users had fewer reasons to buy a newer phone. Let’s not forget that Apple introduced iPhone models in 2018 that cost way more than before.
It is interesting to note that Apple didn’t account for all these things in their guidance for Q4 2018 and had to issue an updated guidance in January. Apple had announced during their iPhone XS launch event that they are increasing their sustainability efforts by making its products last longer, whether it is through recycling or through software updates. Perhaps Apple did not expect this to have such an impact on their bottom line right away. Because people have already started to hold on to their iPhones longer.