Apple is in the process of winding down Beats Electronics’ outsourced phone support ties and moving technical support completely in-house via AppleCare, according to sources. Beats Electronics phone support is currently split between Apple and Sitel, a customer support outsourcing firm, and Apple is aiming to completely end that relationship as soon as March. Apple cut several Beats jobs in July following the acquisition. Sitel employees have confirmed that they will be moved to new technical support positions for other companies, and AppleCare employees similarly confirmed that Beats support will soon be handled completely internally. Apple acquired Beats Electronics and Beats Music in May 2014 for $3 billion, and sales transitioned to the Apple Online Store in August. Apple Store Genius Bars began servicing Beats products late last year.
Following an announcement earlier this year that Apple was teaming up with IBM to deliver a number of enterprise solutions, today Apple has officially announced the first wave of iOS apps being released through the partnership. As part of IBM’s “MobileFirst for iOS,” Apple and IBM today announced 10 new apps designed specifically for businesses including banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and for governments and airlines.
“This is a big step for iPhone and iPad in the enterprise, and we can’t wait to see the exciting new ways organizations will put iOS devices to work,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The business world has gone mobile, and Apple and IBM are bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics to help businesses redefine how work gets done.”
The apps launching today through the partnership include Plan Flight and Passenger+ for the travel industry, Advise & Grow and Trusted Advice for the banking and financial industries, Retention (insurance), Case Advice and Incident Aware for government, Sales Assist and Pick & Pack for retail, and Expert Tech for telecommunications industries. Apple notes that the apps offer customizable experiences and are “managed and upgraded via cloud services from IBM specifically for iOS devices.”
In addition to the new apps, which Apple described in more detail in its press release below, Apple noted other services that will go hand-in-hand with the apps. Those include integration with IBM’s Mobile Platform and Enterprise solutions as well as AppleCare for the Enterprise, Apple’s new business specific tech support service introduced as part of the IBM deal.
Apple’s full press release is below:
A new report from Reuters citing sources at Apple familiar with the company’s plans for future corporate offerings has unveiled new details on the Cupertino corporation’s efforts to recruit business clients and software developers. According to these sources, Apple is currently courting companies such as Citigroup, ServiceMax, and PlanGrid (among others) to augment its current IBM enterprise agreement.
The exact nature of the proposed partnerships between these companies hasn’t been confirmed yet, but the general idea is similar to the IBM arrangement. ServiceMax, a company that creates solutions for managing field technicians, and PlanGrid, which allows construction workers to share blueprints with each other, will both agree to roll out Apple hardware with custom software to their clients.
Some iPhone 6 owners have found that Apple’s latest and greatest phone comes with an unexpected (but patented!) new feature: flexibility. According to reports, the iPhone 6 is slightly bending beyond repair while in pockets. Some users say that the bending occurred after normal sitting, while other people have had more active lifestyles. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Apple will replace these more fragile-than-expected units at no cost. Some users are reporting that replacement costs are in the hundreds of dollars range. Additional bending pictures below:
Just in time for the iPhone 6, an internal memo sent to employees at Costco stores indicates that the company will begin offerring AppleCare+ on iPhones and iPads sold through its wireless kiosks tomorrow. The notice details the process for selling the extended warranties and states that the offer only applies to “connected/embedded iPads” sold at the kiosk, not those sold on the sales floor.
The wholesaler only recently started carrying Apple’s mobile products again earlier this year after a multi-year spat that resulted in the decision to remove them from Costco shelves. The devices are available both through the company’s website and in-store through its specialized mobile sales kiosks.
Earlier this week, Apple denied claims that it had hidden secret backdoors in its iOS platform that could allow the government or malicious users to extract a variety of critical and personal details about a device’s user from an iPhone or iPad, sometimes storing that data in unencrypted formats.
Today, the company published a new document on its support website explaining the diagnostic tools that iOS uses to collect data for troubleshooting and other purposes. According to the document:
Apple today will be rolling out a couple of significant changes to its AppleCare support offerings. As we detailed in a report last month regarding Apple’s future plans for AppleCare, Apple will making a significant push for its premium AppleCare+ service. AppleCare+ is the iPhone and iPad protection plan offering that provides support for an additional two years (on top of the free 90 days of support) and support for up to two incidents of accidental damage.
Previously, customers were required to buy the plan within 30 days of purchase of an iPhone or iPad, but today’s change brings that purchase window to 60 days. This gives customers more time to decide if they will need enhanced support for their mobile Apple devices. The AppleCare+ plan costs $99 for both recent iPhone and iPad models. The plan can be purchased both via Apple’s Online Store or inside of official Apple retail stores. The AppleCare+ change is supported in all AppleCare+ regions except Japan, where the timeframe remains 30 days…
Apple’s vice president of AppleCare and technical support initiatives, Tara Bunch, held a Town Hall meeting for for AppleCare employees earlier this week, according to several employees in attendance who asked to remain anonymous. During the meeting, Bunch, along with a few other Apple executives, spoke about Apple’s progress in customer service and support over the past few years, improvements from 2013 to 2014, and future plans.
Throughout the meeting, Bunch noted that customer satisfaction numbers from AppleCare and Apple product users are at the top of the industry. Going into the 15th year of AppleCare, Bunch asked employees to celebrate and be proud of their accomplishments, but she also noted that Apple still has room to improve its support practices. Employees in attendance during the meeting have shared some details regarding Apple’s future plans for its support initiatives…
Apple today launched a new program that will allow iPhone 5 owners to have devices with fautly sleep buttons repaired at no cost. Apple says it has identified an issue with some devices that can cause the button to fail on a “small percentage” of these devices. iPhone owners can use a new page on Apple’s support site to determine if their phone is eligible for repair.
Unfortunately for these users, the phones won’t be replaced or repaired in-store. Instead, the phone has to be sent to an Apple Repair Center, which means the entire process can take up to a week to be completed.
Following our report late last month that Apple was preparing to start charging for out-of-warranty online chat support, we’ve been informed that today Apple support has finally flipped the switch on the new feature and started charging customers. While originally planned for earlier this month, Apple has been having difficulties with a new payment system it developed specifically for the online chat feature. Apple is also introducing a new training program for AppleCare employees called “Here to Help” that it hopes will improve the overall AppleCare support experience. Read more