back to article Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

In the late '90s, Eric Schmidt was an accessible tech CEO with a problem. Novell's product was so good and so reliable nobody needed to upgrade it. If one day people decided to stop using their current version, they wouldn't switch to another version of Novell, the one that Eric was trying to sell, but something else entirely. I …

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Re: @Andrew O

It's about Apples failed deviation from the usual release scheme this year, i.e. release flagship, discount last years flagship. Instead they discontinued last years flagship (X) and released a larger but inferior* handset (XR) and made it only slightly cheaper. Apple have finally realised that idea was not working out for them and have reduced the price $300 to make it a more viable upgrade for 6 and 7 owners not stupid enough to pay XS money.

What Apple can't do anything about is the size of the XR, which does not appeal to many 'western' 6 and 7 owners. It occurred to me in September that the only way to get around that was to put the X back into production, its size is acceptable to this group. But that would make the XR even less attractive unless you like phablets.

*see Apples handset comparison site

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Re: @Andrew O

Price reduction? The XR is still £749 here.

I'm looking forward to the 3rd incarnation of the XR series - hopefully they'll call it the XR3i :-)

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Losing customer

All four in my household were on iphones, there is one left me with an iphone 7 everyone else switched to droid as you can get a £200 phone that does everything an iphone does.

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Re: Losing customer

Sounds like you're well on the path I'm just starting down. No more iPhones, mid-range Android from now on.

Incidentally, I wonder what this will do to the argument of 2nd hand Apple phones holding their price so well...

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Re: Losing customer

even mid-range is almost too good for most people, given how cheap and just all-round great the budget phones have become - with the likes of Xiaomi Mi 8 lite etc... that kind of performace and features were flagship level just a couple of years ago...

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Re: Losing customer

My Nexus 5X died recently (all round fantastic phone, particularly for the price). I bought a Samsung J3 for about £100 as a very quick purchase because I needed a phone up and running pretty much straight away (and wanted one with the NFC for contactless payments). The camera is a bit crap, and while the performance of the phone itself isn't stellar once I'd removed all the awful Samsung shovelware and hugely sub-par versions of other applications the speed isn't noticeable and it has about 50% more battery life now compared to before. Alternatively I could have spent hundred more on a phone that when it comes to most practical use (for me), isn't much better. I do miss the 5X's camera thouugh...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a £200 phone that does everything an iphone does.

iPhones don't degrade like Androids do. I hope you've found a good one but I've found that even if you don't install any software they degrade over time. When I got my 8 core £200 Android the bluetooth audio was perfect. 6 months later and there was the occasional stutter. A year later it will stutter at least once every 30 minutes.

Try doing that with an iPhone.

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Re: Losing customer

The second-hand price of iPhones seems to me an argument against buying them, not for.

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Re: a £200 phone that does everything an iphone does.

When I got my 8 core £200 Android the bluetooth audio was perfect.

Problems with Bluetooth are usually entirely unrelated to hardware. Specifically when it comes to Bluetooth Apple has a shocking reputation but I suspect what you're experiencing is some kind of interference: Bluetooth is lower power and shares the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band with, amongst other things, wifi, but will also suffer near strong EM fields such as in a train station. Range is also a lot less than you might imagine, though this can depend on peripherals, some of which are really shit: I get a good 8m through walls from my sidebar but about 4m from my kitchen radio.

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Re: a £200 phone that does everything an iphone does.

Degrading? Must be the rotational velocidensity.

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Re: a £200 phone that does everything an iphone does.

"Degrading? Must be the rotational velocidensity."

He probably didn't burn it in properly.

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Re: Losing customer

I think the idea of Android phones degrading sharply over time has a lot to do with two things: The first is that the pre-eminent manufacturer of Android phones is Samsung - a company whose attitude to long-term support would make Don Juan blush.

The second factor is that Android phones have always been marketed using their spec-sheets, rather than user's actual needs. This has resulted in manufacturers cutting back on reliability in order to hit a higher performance value at the same cost. You can run cheap components at the top of their performance envelope and get the same performance as more expensive ones, but you will not get the longevity.

I'm interested to see how the company now using Nokia's brand-name is doing on durability. Longevity and toughness was always a strong point of the original Nokia (because in its home market of Finland, there were never phone subsidies: customers bought a handset at full price, so needed to get at least five years use out of it).

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Re: Losing customer

a company whose attitude to long-term support would make Don Juan blush.

THIS! Hell yeah!

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Re: Losing customer

The first is that the pre-eminent manufacturer of Android phones is Samsung - a company whose attitude to long-term support would make Don Juan blush.

I don't think you should confuse Samsung's fairly shitty approach to OS updates with the hardware which is pretty well-built and lasts well. Several people here have posted that their S* are still running fine, as is my Wave (hardly ever start it but it still works).

Android < 5 used to add features and memory requirements with new versions and phones hit RAM limitations fairly quickly. Since then feature development has been minimal and Google has put Android on a diet (ART replacing Dalvik, more aggressive scheduling). At the same time the baseline for hardware has improved: more RAM, more cores even on the cheaper phones. As a result Andrew's jokes about "landfill" phones don't resonate that much any more. Cheaper phones do the business and continue doing the business for longer. Samsung has adapted to this and I suspect Apple will, too: an SE of the 8 at some point, no doubt.

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Re: Losing customer

I don't think you should confuse Samsung's fairly shitty approach to OS updates with the hardware which is pretty well-built and lasts well. Several people here have posted that their S* are still running fine, as is my Wave (hardly ever start it but it still works).

I find that when it comes to Samsung, there's two camps: the first are happy with their products, and the second are the ones who used to be in the first camp, right up until they tried to get an old one fixed.

And this isn't just phones: I've seen it with TVs, cameras, printers, washing machines, fridges. This is a company that just does not care about after-sales service. When the last pallet of products leaves the factory, it's as if the product never existed.

And, OS updates are really important for a mobile phone: not keeping the phone's OS up to date is ultimately the same as shipping an underspecced battery: your average customer tries to install whatever app they've just seen an ad for on TV onto their three year old phone, gets a message about an unsupported OS version (too old), goes to the phone shop, and ends up having to buy a new phone, simply because Samsung couldn't be arsed to run some automated tests. It doesn't matter that the hardware could keep running forever if you've got to root the phone to keep the OS up to date - 99.999% of customers have no idea what that even means, let alone how they'd go about doing it.

Apple is evil, but at least it keeps a roof over its serfs' heads.

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Still happy with my iPhone 6 - Nothing in the range appeals at the moment. If a smaller Xr was available then possibly, but I'll wait. Got a few more important things to sort out at the moment.

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Happy

Nice try, but...

You're still not getting a Christmas card

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"Apple sees nothing from second-hand trade."

That's not quite true. Through the refurbishment programme Apple is probably the largest actor in the second-hand trade. This is a tried and tested method that car manufacturers offer and has several benefits for them: firstly, it keeps the trade; secondly, part exchange can allow rebates to appear more generous than they are, especially when users "trade up"; it helps sets a floor for second-hand prices which in turn allows it to keep the prices of new devices high.

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Re: "Apple sees nothing from second-hand trade."

It also keeps people in the ecosystem, buying from the App Store, paying for iCloud, having a reason to stick to Mac OS...

Apple Services is a big line for Cupertino’s Counting Dept.

Moreover, when the punter goes to buy their next phone, they’re mentally discounting what they imagine will be the resale value from the price of the phone they’re buying.

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Re: "Apple sees nothing from second-hand trade."

Yes, but if you’re not in the USA, there are no refurbished ‘phones on offer via the Online Apple Store. However, I have bought some well spec’d Mac Minis. You can trade in old iPhones at UK stores, but you can get a better price by selling them privately.

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Re: "Apple sees nothing from second-hand trade."

You can trade in old iPhones at UK stores, but you can get a better price by selling them privately.

Sure, but Apple is happy to see higher prices elsewhere. Anything that makes a new I-Phone seem "good value for money" is good for Apple and higher resale values certainly do that.

BTW. although I've never had an I-Phone, I'm not dissing their kit: the phones are well designed (apart from the notch) and well made. But I won't go into the walled garden.

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More importantly

Apple's user base is increasing at over 10% a year in the US - I'm guessing it is similar in the rest of the world. So even if Apple's sales are flat or even decline because phones are "good enough", they will still add more and more iOS users every year because when people upgrade after 2-3 years years, their old phone will get itself a second owner, instead of ending up in a drawer like most old Androids.

That hurts them in the short run because they make such a large percentage of their revenue from selling iPhones, but in the long run the bigger user base gives them more people to sell services to. More people means more customers for services, which have been growing at 20-30% a year - and they still have yet to enter some markets like video streaming or cloud services that they might in the future.

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Last Longer? Not comparable models.

"Older iPhones last longer than Androids, are better supported, and now run faster than Androids of a comparable age. "

Of course, a phone that costs less than 200 dollars is made with outdated components, it is already near obsolescence when it hits the market. The quoted sentence in the article just makes a blunt statement on the average without taking into account the cost/lifespan ratio of equivalent models.

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Re: Last Longer? Not comparable models.

Both my In-laws are still running the original Moto G from 2013 and are more than happy with them, granted they replaced the battery (snap back of and job done).

Typical apple BS about lasting longer IMO

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LDS
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"2018's iOS update gives older models a new lease of life"

Only when it had to remove the built-in obsolescence mode because ti was caught cheating customers...

Still, non user-replaceable batteries and lack of microSD cards support limits their life.

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Data slurping

"Apple represents a strong alternative to people creeped out by Google's disconcerting data slurping."

In the iOS environment people don't have more control over their data than in the Android environment. A mobile phone is prone to remote tracking whatever is the OS running it.

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Re: Data slurping

The weight of evidence of Google's snooping is far greater than Apple's. Apple predominately monetise through hardware sales while Google monetise through targetted advertising. Snooping is more vital to Google's business than it is to Apple's.

So when faced with one option that definitely snoops as much as possible and one that probably does it's perfectly reasonable to pick the latter.

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Re: Data slurping

"The weight of evidence of Google's snooping is ..."

I've read this preformatted reply a huge number of times over the years. But it is not an evidence. What matters is not what is reported in the balance sheets, information is power, power that may be used to influence the markets or influence politics in order to get some back favours from the supported politicians, nothing of this goes in the balance sheets and nothing of this is accounted for.

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Re: Data slurping

This would be true except that every single iPhone user I am aware of has the Facebook app installed

I don't, and neither does the good lady. We attend a monthly tech meetup in our town and this actually came up in the open discussion about 18 months ago. Something like half the room had uninstalled the app (regardless of OS). A few more did afterwards too, having not previously really thought about it.

It is a fair point though that picking an OS from a manufacturer who touts privacy and then installing a bunch of native apps from ad-slingers is worthy of an eyeroll.

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LDS
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"Apple represents a strong alternative to people creeped out"

The question is "how long"? Even Miicrosoft for a while "scroogled" Google, just to adopt the same exact approach as soon as Nadella took the helm - as consumer OS sales revenues were probably declining, especially since very few people saw a reason to upgrade to Windows 8, and OEM sales were impacted by slow PC sales.

Right now Facebook made very unpopular the data slurping, and Google and YouTube are just behind in behavioural targeting, so Apple has an easy hand.

But if in some years the current outrage fades out, without real legislative changes and checks, and if Apple revenues decrease due to longer upgrade cycles (as we saw already in the PC market), who is ready to bet Apple stakeholders won't ask to monetize customers' data too? Who knows, Cook might really think Apple can avoid selling data on pure ethical reasons, but he can be replaced as well.

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Re: "Apple represents a strong alternative to people creeped out"

Right now Facebook made very unpopular the data slurping, and Google and YouTube are just behind in behavioural targeting, so Apple has an easy hand.

Except, of course, letting people use the apps largely negates anything Apple does. Also, you forgot Amazon which I think probably collects the most and most useful personal data of people who use it a lot.

Using the moral highground for marketing purposes? Who'dve thought it?

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Re: Data slurping

This would be true except that every single iPhone user I am aware of has the Facebook app installed,

Facebook is just a small part of the problem. With builtin SIM and a big share of the phones sold via agreements with the operators most of the customers eventually buy a phone showing Apple their ID, often even buyers of second hand phones in one way or the other end up registering with Apple with their names. On the other hand it is a little bit more common to buy an Android phone separately from the contract (not in the UK or the US, but it happens) and paying with a debit card which means that your name is known only by the bank approving the payment. In less authoritarian countries you can still buy a prepaid anonymous SIM, Google may still try and find out your identity via email account or other data, but it will not be a certain identification as the match of an official ID with IMEI and Apple ID, from this point of view Apple is in a stronger position than Google with Android.

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ethical?

"Apple makes its money by persuading people who already have an iPhone to upgrade to a newer model."

What about the walled garden app store?

"This combination of decisions is both ethical and commercially damaging."

The ethic was paid for by huge tax discounts. But apart from that a corporation is always as much ethical as their customer can force it to be ethical. It's the vote with the wallet that matters.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ethical?

The ethic was paid for by huge tax discounts. But apart from that a corporation is always as much ethical as their customer can force it to be ethical. It's the vote with the wallet that matters.

It's astounding to me that you are so wrong with your initial statement, but actually get it right with the rest.

Corporations never bare costs, especially taxes. Only people bare costs. And for corporations, those people are (in order): customers, employees, shareholders.

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Long term support and googles slurping are reasons i bought 8 plus, at this point phones are on same level as pcs in terms of not needing to buy a new one every year like it was 15 years ago. I dont like apple but there are some things they do right, still sad about windows phone, was best of both worlds, if microsoft just fully committed and put their weight behind apps

then again my backup phone is samsung galaxy mini from 2011, even used it for a time last year after my nokia lumia died

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I have exactly the same comment about Apple being the regretable choice after Windows Phone demise. Still, iPhones are more secure and good quality and well supported compared to Android which I've also used for a decade.

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no just no

This article is just plain wrong. For starters "Novell's product was so good and so reliable nobody needed to upgrade it." OK we've all heard the stories of ancient NetWare 2 servers with an uptime of 50 years but normal NetWare 3 and 4 boxes used to crash all the time if you looked at them funny and even if you didn't.

More importantly this "ethical" Apple, are we talking about the same company that sends you an over the air remote brick-o-gram if it spots that you had the cheek to get your cracked screen repaired by someone who wasn't Apple?

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Re: no just no

No one is allowed to say a bad word about NetWare 3.12 - it was amazing :)

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Ethical or accidental?

The fact that Apple gear lasts longer/has a better resale value is a side-effect of their business model.

However, the fact that Apple gear is effectively unrepairable[*] is also a side-effect of their business model.

Do these things cancel out?

To be fair, Apple does make a number of ethical choices which could be praised (or reviled, depending on your point of view) - it's stance on data gathering, the handset security lockdowns and the decision to ban hate-speech from it's platforms.

And in many ways, their whole business model is ethical, insomuch as it revolves around producing - and supporting - the best end-user experience possible. So long as you're happy to pay the Apple tax *and* work to their rules.

But any wider ethical effects are secondary, not primary. And to my mind, that isn't necessarily worthy of praise.

[*] A combination of high component prices (Macbook 2013 15" screen: £200 from Ebay!), complex physical builds (e.g. glue, soldered components, non-standard screwheads) and physical security lockdowns which block the use of OEM parts (e.g. the infamous Error 53)

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Re: Ethical or accidental?

I think you are on the right track with this argument. Apple make devices and the OS is simply what enabled it to work and host Apps upon. If it breaks, then you take it back to manufacturer, same as any other household product. If you start to disasemble your TV or use another repairer, your warranty is invalid, why should Apple be any different in this respect?

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LDS
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"lasts longer/has a better resale value is a side-effect of their business model."

I agree - it's not for customers' sake, but because their business model is to deliver high-end models with the latest technology. It's much alike German cars, or Japanese (as in made in Japan, not China) cameras - to justify their price they need to make high-quality models.

In turn, that makes them last far longer than lower quality ones, and have a better used market appeal

Most of these products business model are based on keeping on to sell to people with the money to afford such products, or to find new markets when people reach the level they can afford them, and being also status-symbol products they usually sell well. But for the same reason increasing the market share is hard when economy shrinks, new markets don't come to life, and there are less reasons to upgrade the current model.

The customer obviously has some advantage from this model, if it can afford the price - but it's not usually the driver behind most business decisions.

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Anonymous Coward

"warranty invalid" != "bricked product"

Apple could invalidate a warranty if a product is not repaired with approved spares and technicians, but can't brick them.

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Re: Ethical or accidental?

> If you start to disasemble your TV or use another repairer, your warranty is invalid, why should Apple be any different in this respect?

Eh? Warranties are a completely different subject, though I do at least partially agree: if I decide to pop the lid on something to fix and/or poke something, there's a reasonable case to be made for the manufacturer to invalidate the warranty.

(Though as ever, there are shades of grey - what if a component fails which is absolutely nothing to do with the thing I poked?)

Back to my original point, and as you've said, Apple effectively sell "turnkey" devices, and this pretty much mandates that the device in question should be a black box: it does what Apple designed it to, and only what Apple designed it to. If it goes wrong - or if you want different functionality - then you have to go back to Apple.

If you're happy enough to buy into that concept, then all is well and good. But it's hardly an ethical approach - instead, it's monopolistic, and potentially subject to abuse.

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My Samsumg S7 Edge made itself user-hostile when I tried to turn off location tracking, popping up a message every few minutes trying to convince me to turn it back on.

Ethical? The bar set by the competition is so low that ants have to duck to go under it.

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I have the same issue with my Nokia 6.1. I've disabled access to location, contacts etc for pretty much every app that has no legitimate need for access AFAICS yet get regular warnings. The camera "needs" microphone access or it won't work at all, even for stills. Apparently the Play Store needs access to my contacts (but works fine without it, just moans periodically). My other major gripe is new apps appearing with each new Android upgrade that aren't required and seem to grab excessive permissions without asking as they are "system" apps.

However, given Apple's lack of transparency about pretty much everything the cynic in me wonders how similar iOS is to Android in some of these respects, it's just that it's hidden more deeply. I can't imagine that if Microsoft and Google are doing it that Apple aren't at least dipping their tongues in to the data pool and having a taste if not a full slurp.

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I can't imagine that if Microsoft and Google are doing it that Apple aren't at least dipping their tongues in to the data pool and having a taste if not a full slurp.

With what goal? Google (and Facebook) has to do it because they make all their money from advertising, so their business model demands slurping data. Microsoft has decided to emulate that and try to make money from advertising in addition to their existing sources, whether they will be successful or give up remains to be seen. Apple doesn't really do advertising (except for its own products) so there's no reason for them to slurp data.

So you think they do, and store petabytes of personal info on all of us just "because", even though it has no current business value for them? Even though doing so without a purpose would risk major brand damage if it it became known, since they've been positioning themselves as the company that values your privacy and doesn't collect every scrap of data they can? It would be an insane risk to take when the reason is "just because".

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Apple sells media content via iTunes, and wants to also produce it's own content apparently. Are you seriously suggesting that Apple would not use the data they have on existing purchasers to suggest new content that they might be interested in for example?

Just because Apple say they don't do it and like to take the moral high-ground doesn't mean they aren't doing it too. Google's motto was don't be evil, yet they slurp everything and dump zero days exploits in other companies software on to the internet if they aren't patched as quickly as Google would like. Facebook are quite simply pure evil, and Microsoft have many questionable practices that are, if not as bad as the other two at least in terms of data mining, are certainly in the same ballpark.

Let us not forget Apple themselves have done some pretty shady things, with conditions at their partner manufacturing plants, their tax arrangements, excessive vendor lock-in on accessories and maintenance, pushing out new pieces of software as a "recommended update" and forcing the download of a U2 album that no one wanted.

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Of course Apple could use narrowly focused data like your iTunes example, but that's a far cry from collecting anything and everything. There's also nothing stopping them from having that data collected and processed locally so it never leaves the device. There's no reason it needs to be uploaded off your phone, other than to combine it with other devices like an iPod, Mac etc. which would be of limited utility unless you listened rarely on your phone compared to other devices.

Please spare me "just because Apple says they aren't doing it doesn't mean they aren't doing it". Just because Google's stated policies don't allow them to make every scrap of info they collect on you available to all governments of the world, as well as selling it on eBay for your neighbors to buy doesn't mean they aren't doing it, right?

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"Please spare me "just because Apple says they aren't doing it doesn't mean they aren't doing it"."

Why, have Apple done something to make you trust them implicitly? It's clear that once one company gets away with something the others will follow. Apple were the first to risk non-user replaceable batteries and were slated for it, now it's the norm across almost all devices.

You asked why Apple might do such a thing, the article gives you the answer. If their devices are lasting longer then they can't make the same amount of money from people upgrading constantly, so they will need to find another way to maintain their revenue stream.

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