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Adam Minter

Can Apple Profit From Its Battery Debacle?

Consumers are fed up with upgrades. The market is responding.
Good as new.

Good as new.

Photographer: Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg

Apple Inc.'s recent admission that it secretly slowed down older iPhones with aging batteries has led to widespread outrage, a proliferation of lawsuits and an unusually abject corporate apology. But it's possible that this episode could end up being a significant opportunity for Apple -- if it finally rethinks some long-held assumptions.

"Batterygate," as it's been dubbed, certainly looks like a disaster. Apple says it simply slowed down the phones to prevent them from crashing, and is offering users $29 battery replacements (instead of the usual $79) to make amends. But that will be costly: By one estimate, it will result in about 16 million fewer upgrades in 2018. Demand for replacements has grown so quickly that waiting lists now stretch for weeks.