2017 was the first year that global orders of smartphones decreased. If you ask the internet, it’ll tell you we have reached “peak smartphone.” Sales have plateaued, and everyone is happy with the device they currently have in their hands. Why rush to upgrade to (increasingly more expensive) new models when most phones already operate faster for longer, boast solid performance specs, and don’t break as easily? For every article declaring the smartphone’s decline, hundreds of reviews pop up saying of the latest and great new phone the same refrain: “Eh, you don’t need it.”
Stalled sales and longer upgrade cycles have led the world to speculate on how Apple, Samsung, and others plan to cope with customers who are turning into strangers. Will they offer more comprehensive repair services through authorized service providers? Offer more budget options to encourage affordable upgrades? Or offer enticing financial reasons to continue with high price upgrades? This isn’t to assume innovation has stopped in its tracks. However attractive current smartphones are, manufacturers will continue to raise the bar, and early adopters will lead the way in creating a new norm. But as it stands, manufacturers look to be in a bit of a pickle.
A New Age for Repair
For repair professionals, now is the moment to capitalize on users who’d rather maintain devices than upgrade at the first sign of trouble. If an iPhone 7 performs as required, what’s the upside to upgrading to a higher-priced device with marginally better specs, whose bugs haven’t been worked out, to transfer data, and learn new gestures and commands when a simple, cheaper repair suffices?
This is also an exciting time to see how changing attitudes towards smartphone maintenance affect the repair industry. If users are more willing to repair than upgrade, that may mean more business on small parts repairs, or a desire for regular “tune ups.” It really depends on how much money the average user is willing to put into a device before it’s no longer in their best interest.
Repair shops may want to promote repair packages or service schedules that agree with customers’ wallets and align with the average upgrade cycle of a given smartphone. Increasing a phone’s lifespan to the point at which the average user is excited to upgrade is a powerful incentive if the price is right. At the very least, establishing brand recognition via paid ads on social networks and search engines will help tremendously when users read your company name through the spiderweb cracks in their screens.
We’d be getting ahead of ourselves if we predicted a repair free-for-all to come. Just because people are holding onto the same phones longer doesn’t mean repairs will suddenly skyrocket. As we noted above, durability peaked along with performance. Instead, expect longer upgrade cycles to influence the smartphones that cross your desk. “Peak smartphone” may simply mean that you see Galaxy S8’s for longer than you saw Galaxy S5’s. As with the upgrade cycle, the repair cycle lengthens. You’ll still be doing the same repairs, just on older devices.
Think About The Long Game
Screens shatter. Cameras and batteries fizzle out. Accidents happen. There’s always going to be a demand for smartphone repair so long as smartphones exist. It’s just that now is the time to start thinking long term, as the world is getting saturated with them and manufacturers are starting to wonder the same things: what to invent next; how to keep customers happy.
Buy putting a focus on regular maintenance and quality service, you can build relationships with customers and put them on track to thinking that maintenance is the more realistic – and tolerable – option. This new era requires well planned and nimble strategies, which if executed correctly, will mean great things for the repair industry.