Apple has released details and prices of its battery-replacement program for the recently released 17-inch MacBook Pro. When the top-of-the-line Apple notebook was announced last Tuesday, eyebrows were raised when Macworld Expo keynote presenter Phil Schiller revealed that the battery of the 17-incher was, as he put it, " …
Better than their usual hardware price conversions
Usually we get robbed blind. This is pretty good, actually.
And seeing as a new battery for a white MacBook was £100 from Apple when I asked recently, £139 for a battery that's better than this, including labour for a takeapart, is a total steal (and pales in comparison to the original cost of the machine). Still, it won't feel like that when your battery starts dying.
Why do people take this?
If Microsoft released a version of Windows with a built in timebomb that required you to buy a new version at a cost of around $180 in approximately 3 to 5 years, people would scream bloody murder. Just because Apples timebomb is in the hardware instead, doesn't make it any different. And yet people are willing to overlook such a shallow method of customer lock-in simply because they believe it's cool.
I don't know which is more stupid, a company who employ such a technique, or customers who are so blinded by the 'coolness' factor that they'll buy it anyway.
Apple at it again...blah blah blah....my N95 has a user replaceable battery...blah blah blah
Oh yeah, that's right - I don't care.
@ Jeremy: HP NC6400 Battery down to 20% in 18 months.
My work lappy has a battery that is down to 24 minutes as I await a replacement part. That is very poor. If the MacBook battery lasts 3 times as many duty cycles, the second question is dow long it goes before it discharges? Since I have discharged mine 1-2 times a day for about 1/2 the calendar days of the year, Apple's figures might have some credibility.
Much as I hate to support Apple, it's the quality of the battery that is the issue here, and the labour charges involved in getting a replacement. If the quality means that the battery lasts what most people consider to be the usable life of the laptop, what's the issue?
If batteries are indeed a 'consumable' to be replaced, then HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo etc are all equally culpable of shipping timebombs.
The fanboys will buy it!!
Because they are so stupid. Apple = lock-in
Time will tell
We're all looking in teacups for the future here. If you're betting against the battery, do so by not buying one; it's not like you _need_ to buy a 17" laptop.
Apple are in the position to do the maths on this problem and work out how to not lose customers.
But is there any benefit at all to having an iIntegrated MacBattery Pro? If it being integrated leads to it lasting longer (which is hugely unlikely) then so long as it'll last three years or so then it's all good. Otherwise it's yet more bad apple.
But surely who cares if the battery only lasts a couple of years? There will probably be some new ultra-sleek ultra-expensive piece of style wankery for them to buy by then.
batteries are a consumable, but the issue isn't the quality of the batteries, its the fact that it's a non user replaceable consumable, no matter how good batteries are, they will fail eventually. Imagine having to send your printer off to HP for a replacement ink cartridge, even if you get twice or three times as much printing per cartridge than other printers.
@Jeremy - there's a hardware 'timebomb' with every laptop...
You need to read this slowly - ALL laptop batteries are a 'hardware timebomb' - they will all die eventually.
The only difference is the fact that it's not user-replaceable, and if it performs as promised, that's no issue.
hehe typical troll comment
microsoft's timebomb is vista....all you vista fanboys will be running to download windows 7 beta!
Apple say it lasts 7 or 8 hours, depending on if you use the on-board or discrete GPU. I personally would be happy with that combined with the 1000 charges. Most people use their laptops on power for the majority of their lives, perhaps with 2-3 hours a day on the train at most, assuming Apple's figures are true, that'd give you about 8 years of use before it gets to 80% charge...
It's the battery technology stupid!
So instead of going 'oh look Apple's new laptop has a wizzbang new battery, huzzah!' you complain that this wizzbang new battery will cost, um money to replace. Well sorry if I remain underwhelmed by the article.
The reality is that as portable devices become every hungrier for power for ever more features battery technology is struggling to keep up. So lets have some appreciation of that and some ups when people manage to increment their way out of it.
Are we actually really going to send ours off for replacement ??
I mean seriously when ipods first came out you had to open them with a knife to replace the unbeleivably bad battery and we did.
As for the not so techy it means more work for us which equals more money !!!
But yes if any other company acted in this manner especially M$ the world would be up in arms about it.
I Dislike Apples business strategy and laugh at the Idiots that buy them (that being the people who buy them for the looks) and hang my head in shame as my mother bought a mactop (she doesnt get any computer support from me though)
The AC above makes a very good point regarding the battery. A easily removeable battery would still need to be replaced, the 'cost' of this integration is the cost beyond buying the battery.
Given the batteries life I don't think this is the issue people want to make it out to be. At least the complaints about not being able to carry a spare battery make some sense.
The big difference is Microsoft, in your example, would have deliberately engineered the software to break. Everyone's battery (all makes) will eventually die - it's not deliberate.
It's a bit like inkjet printers. Some ink cartridges are a bit more expensive because they contain new heads. Some are cheaper but, after many years, the printer head will need servicing/replacing. Being "forced" to replace heads early - well, it's a consumer choice because there is an argument that a new head each time produces better results - no comeback on the manufacturer.
As long as you know the score before you buy it's fair - and Apple are not doing this to generate revenue - I suspect it's a compromise so that they can ship a more desirable product.
BTW - I don't own ANY Apple products (not even an iPod).
That's actually not that bad
Laptop batteries are hella expensive to start with, and knowing Apple's usual pricing schemes I was expecting something far worse than £140. Still, not being able to have two batteries and swap them if you're in the field, or upgrade the battery if better ones come along, is a bit tight. This recent habit Apple has of sealing/soldering everything in stinks rather a lot of the way Tiny used to operate, and look what happened to them.
Microsoft don't manufacture computers, so I don't see how the comparison is relevant. I suppose they manufacture XBoxes which are a lot like computers, but they definitely don't fail permanently within three years of purchase. Honest.
Will spin this. Wait, they already are the sheep.
But without VAT..
The UK price without VAT would be equivalent to $175.65
I wish people would stop comparing US prices without sales tax with UK ones which include the VAT. Apple list prices appropriately for the the country where they are selling, and yes, when the non-VAT price is much higher it annoys the shit out of me, but if you don't like the VAT rate have a word with the treasury/government.
@AC with the NC6400
We have a couple of these in service, although most of our machines are Dell Latitudes. It's worth noting that even the majority of machines that ship with 3-year onsite warranties on the hardware only warranty the battery for 12 months. You can buy 3-year cover for your battery for the latest Latitudes, but that's extra - although at £38.50, it's not exactly ruinously expensive. I've heard worse deals than the Apple one in this case, but I'd still rather have a user replaceable battery.
exploitation of blind loyalty and stupidity
HP, Dell etc are not equally to blame here. HP, Dell, Toshiba etc all have user replacable batteries. so if you are so inclined you can go on ebay and pick one up for perhaps 50 bucks.
Apple on the other hand charge us over 230 euros for the privilege!
Batteries are inherintly consumable, they lose capacity with age and use, this is a given, we expect to have to replace batteries. we dont however expect to be tied into a company who will charge Extortionate amounts of cash for the privilege, just because they think their customers are blinded by loyalty, a little white light up apple symbol and shiny cases.
Apple suck. I admired them 2 years ago, and they saw some of my hard earned cash. no more im afraid.
@ Jeremy: HP NC6400 Battery down to 20% in 18 months.
thats still pretty good to the battery in my laptop. it doesnt last long enough to even boot into xp.
All laptops need batteries replacing. All replacement batteries cost money. Some replacement batteries cost more money than others.
I don't see what apple's doing that's any different from any other laptop manufacturer. I don't know of any that do free replacement batteries for the life of the product. Do you?
The only bit that I really dislike about this is the difficulty of having a replaceable battery. I tend to carry a spare battery with me as I'm really bad at remembering to charge it. Though I imagine products will be made that are essentially batteries that plug into the power socket.
New MacBook Sir.....
You walk into the Apple store with the best intentions of getting a new battery.
You see all the shiny new supa-duper new MacBooks and Hey Presto! out you walk a good deal lighter in the wallet and the proud owner of a brand new piece of kit.
Apple stupid they ain't!
Not going to say the same about the owners
"If Microsoft released a version of Windows with a built in timebomb that required you to buy a new version at a cost of around $180 in approximately 3 to 5 years, people would scream bloody murder. "
You're right - they would. And they'd be justified. But the comparison you've made is invalid.
The life of the battery isn't something that Apple have deliberately hobbled in some way, (well, we'll see once the machines are a couple of years old...), but it is a physical limitation.
The thing that people seem to be getting upset about is that to change the thing, you have to take your machine to some asshat with a vacant expression in a black rollneck sweater. The implication is that this is going to be pricey.
But look at that - it's apparently cheaper than buying a user-replacable Dell battery. And as our esteemed author points out, by the time these units need replacing they'll be out of warranty anyway, third party OEMs will be making replacements, and the world will keep turning.
The only problem I can see is if these (Apple) batteries don't live up to their promised specifications. THEN the consumer will have grounds for a complaint.
( Just for the record, the only Apple product I own is a Quadra 650. )
Your M$ software timebomb analogy is very poor. Software isn't physical so it doesn't degrade over time. Would you complain that your car manufacturer has built a timebomb into your car because you need to have the brake pads replaced now and then?
Microsoft's timebombs don't wait 3 to 5 years to reduce your computer to an unusable hunk of metal and plastic - it's usually fairly buggered from day one. Or at least until you turn off all the extraneous crap that's turned on by default and then apply the umpty-hundred patches, service packs and hotfixes that are needed to prevent your shiny new toy being immediately cracked, zombied and botnetted as soon as you connect to the outside world.
But seriously folks, while software does suffer from bitrot that requires occasional disinfection and delousing, physical products like batteries do actually wear out. Whether you like it or not, that's the way the universe works - especially when it comes to something like a battery. I'll leave it to better physicists, chemists and electrical engineers than me to explain exactly why.
I'm with the AC (02:51 GMT) on this one - the battery on my last Dell laptop didn't even last as long as the three-year warranty on the machine. And it's not as if it actually stopped working or lost charge. It was still a pretty good runner. No, the system itself came up with little messages saying "I think your battery is now no good, so I'm going to refuse to charge it any more. Once you've used up its current charge, you'll have to buy a new one unless you want to run on mains all the time". Or words to that effect. Now if that isn't a blatant bit of planned obsolescence so that you can gouge your customers for another 120 quid (or whatever it was at the time), I don't know what is. Shame 'cos I don't mind Dell kit - I've used quite a bit of it over the years and haven't really had any major problems so, for the money, it's OK. But that little trick did annoy me. (Add to that the other little trick whereby the laptop's power supply also seemed to include electronic widgetry to prevent it charging third-party batteries that weren't equipped with the official Dell magic seal of approval - and, therefore, Dell-friendly prices - and they really were taking the urine.)
I sure as hell won't be taking it. There are other Apple products I won't buy because the batteries aren't user-replaceable. I might really want one, but I'm not going to subsidize this sort of behaviour. And the customers that use "but it fits in a manila envelope!!" as a computer-buying criteria are clearly just morons.
I couldn't think of a title
I would pay money for a worm home (apple) product if I were to be tortured for an adequate length of time.
This time requirement would vary depending on my mood at the actual time of torture.
Nice scam in shiny corporate colors.
I have a little pile of charged batteries for my Fujitsu pen tablets. Of course it *does* require a multi second hibernation or suspend and battery swap for this to be worth anything.
What the hell, I think I'll superglue one of the batteries in place just to fit in.
The real problem
The real problem with this design is security. Even if you're security-conscious and you use full-drive encryption, you (or your employer, if it's a company laptop) still probably don't want to go giving your data to the world at large. What this "integrated" battery does is remove your ability to effectively control access to your data. When the battery dies, you either have to send the laptop out for repair or you have to bring it in to a service center for repair. In both cases, you don't know who will have access to your data or what they will do with it. And for people or companies serious about security, that's a big deal.
At a time was Apple is taking a lot of sales away from PC vendors, due to Microsoft's colossal Vista blunder, does Apple really want to give people a reason to NOT buy their product?
What about the taxes?
Your comparing PRE and POST tax prices in this article. What about adding the taxes to the US and Canadian prices? For example in Chicago you need to add ~10% on the price for taxes, this brings the post tax price to with in 10 USD of the UK price....
Apple and batteries..
"If batteries are indeed a 'consumable' to be replaced, then HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo etc are all equally culpable of shipping timebombs"
Because it's just not true. I have 3 batteries for my laptop so I can run for about 15-20 hours without looking for a power socket. Why? Because I can flip out the dead one and put a new one in.
If Apple want to lock people into batteries made by them, without competition authorities caring - this is the only way to do it. But it's completely nuts; Apple are notorious for grossly over-estimating how long their batteries last in both charge and before they need replacing.
People will still shill them, I say good luck if you bought one.
The other issue is, instead of just replacing the battery what happens to your laptop when it needs a new battery?
You loose it for a few weeks.
I can see this ending well and not in a class-action..
I haven't got my hands on the service manual for these yet, but if they resemble earlier models, the bottom case is held on by a half-dozen or so torx T8 screws. Once removed, the battery will most likely be readily accessible. Anyone willing to void a warranty to confirm this?
3 to 5 years?
Having looked after it properly my PowerBook battery has lasted nearly 5 years and that only has approximately 300 charge cycles worth of life. If Apple's claims are true about the 1000 cycles then you can expect 5 to 10 years of battery life if used more as a desktop replacement than as a full blown laptop like my PowerBook.
@Jeremy - Give me a break...
Okay, so you get a battery which is designed to last over 3x longer than a normal laptop battery, lasts longer on a single charge than a normal battery and you're still whining that after approx FIVE YEARS you might have to pay Apple £139 for a new battery (including Labour AND safe disposal of your old battery pack) rather than the £100 approx which Apple charges for the standard, replaceable battery packs for its laptops. Give me a break...
So, Captain Clever - what's your alternative?
Do you have a laptop from another vendor with a battery that's not degraded after 3 years?
@ Anonymous Coward, 02:51 GMT
The difference is HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo and pretty much all other manufacturers make them with user replaceable batteries therefore they are not "timebombs"
Furthermore if your work laptop was a MacBook Pro 17" you would be without the use of your laptop when the battery was being replaced as opposed to your HP which you can just swap the old battery out with the replacement when it arrives, meaning minimal downtime.
"Much as I hate to support Apple, it's the quality of the battery that is the issue here, and the labour charges involved in getting a replacement"
No, the issue is that you can't replace it yourself. The vast, vast majority of other laptops from other vendors, including the ones you list allow you to do this yourself.
If you can do it yourself then you can get non-offical batteries, and you can also purchase a spare for when your traveling long haul.
Apple take this option away, and charge more compared to others as well.
And don't take the piss.... "labour"? It's a fucking battery dude - not a motherboard replacement.
Pros and Cons
As an "Early '08" MacBook Pro owner I am very happy to have missed out on this, and the mini display port debacle. Hopefully by the time I am considering a replacement, Apple will have been forced to change its ways by various European rules around batteries. I for one would be extremely reluctant to buy a laptop with a sealed battery unless it came with an unconditional guarantee for, say, five years, with unlimited free replacements. It should not be possible to abuse a sealed unit charged by the 'spec' PSU, so why not?
Apple both saves money by simplifying design and reducing build cost, and corners the market on replacements (in the short term). If they can demonstrate that the battery lasts for the useful lifetime of the laptop (average Dell laptop lifetime is about three years in a consultancy environment while Macs tend to be good for four to five years) then this is an annoyance but not a deal breaker.
All Lithium batteries have a limited lifespan based primarily on charge cycles. I buy 'bare' batteries for electric R/C flying and with repeated fast charges on the limit of what they will take I should get 100-150 cycles out of them before recycling. However technology is improving and the dielectric issues that cause these batteries to deteriorate over charge cycles are starting to be solved.
@AC, 02:51: Only Apple is making the battery a non-user servicable part.
No need to go stateside, a quick trip across the ditch will suffice here. Hey presto, 139 EUR rather than 179. Apple's exchange rates are soooo last year.....
It's not the quality of the battery that is of question here, it's the fact that a part of the machine, which the manufacturer freely admits wears out over time, is not able to be changed by the end user. This is at best a stupid design decision, at worst a cynical money making scheme.
"If Microsoft released a version of Windows with a built in timebomb ..."
data on the machine?
Handing my valuable laptop in just to get a battery replaced?? What if the laptop - and the data on it - goes missing? (Which is bound to happen to *someone*). What if someone clones the drive?
Seems to me I'd need to backup all the data (possibly deleting important files) and then wait some days - just to get a battery replaced?? A lot more pain than just dropping in a new one bought from a shop, eh?
What a good and balanced piece from Mr Myslewski. I particularly liked the table showing the USDollar equivalent, though I wish someone would produce a table which included an average US Sales Tax so US/UK comparisons could be easily made.
Mine's the one with the worn-out calculator in the pocket.
What are you, an idiot? ALL laptop batteries need replacing at some stage - usually around 3 years later. There is no such thing as an everlasting battery.
Every electronic product that runs on batteries must have a "timebomb" in it by your reckoning.
And how can it be "customer lock-in"? By the time the battery needs replacing there will be third-party alternatives. Exactly the same as if it was a Dell, HP, Acer or any other manufacturers laptop.
At least Apple are doing something to prolong battery life. Not just in time between charges but also in the time before the battery actually needs replacing.
>If Microsoft released a version of Windows with a built in timebomb
Jeez, you are stupid. All batteries have a limited lifespan. This isn't some pre-programmed artificial timebomb programmed by Apple to go off in 5 years. It's the physical limit of battery life.
And comparing the pricing with other major brand ORIGINAL battery replacements (which don't include the fitting of course) it's not as over-priced as it might seem.
Yes, you can get cheap Chinese third-party batteries for cheaper for other laptops, but you will for the MacBooks too before long.
Don't worry, its an Apple so the battery will catch fire long before it needs replacing....
Jeremy / Anonymous Coward:
It's physically impossible to manufacture a battery that will last an unlimited number of charge/discharge cycles, be it a laptop battery or rechargable battery for anything else.
Any battery will eventually loose some or all it's original capacity - so you can't blame Apple or any other electronics company for shipping timebombs.
I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro M30 laptop thats about 4 years old now and still working OK - screen not cracked, keys not broken, etc... Ive carefully looked after it.
When ever I'm going to use it for a long period without access to mains AC (e.g. watching a film on train journey), I charge it over night and also take a fully charged 12V 7.2Ah sealed Lead Acid with me, which I connect to the PSU DC jack. Since the PSU outputs 15V, I can get away with it for about 3 hours if I put the screen brightness on lowest and I don't use the optical drive.
Its a lot cheaper this way than buying a new Li-ion battery for the laptop.
Either that or they'll all be subjected to extreme bile and ignorance, irrespective of whether they consider a sealed-in battery to be acceptable. "Oh, guess what, you enjoy one or more products produced by a company that doesn't always launch the best-in-class solutions; ergo you must be a sheep". Definitely a logically rigorous argument, probably as defensible as "You bought Windows, therefore you must be in favour of talking paperclips and MP3 players that can't handle the final day of leap years".
To the original author: what does that final sentence about the warranty have to do with anything? Either it's a cheap shot or you neglected to mention something in the preceeding text; I prefer to believe the latter.