I used to manage the Blackberry mobile device fleet for my organization back before BYOD really took off. Since we had many remote travelers - and travel seems to inflict the worst beatings upon devices - it was a major headache to deal with broken devices in faraway places. Heck, it was a headache to deal with them right in the office, but at least we could hand them a replacement right away - provided we had any in stock. I sent many a FedEx package containing a replacement device for a remote user back in those days while they waited, dead in the water.
The Achilles heel on a mobile device is often the screen, of course. That's bound to be the case with a fragilepiece of electronic equipment which is carried about everywhere. Last fall Motorola announced the results of a study which found that "50 percent of people globally have experienced a cracked smartphone screen at least once." Furthermore, "Right now, 21 percent of smartphone owners have a cracked screen. In the US, that number is much higher, at 30 percent." To make matters worse, "23 percent of those with cracked screens continue to use their phone, even after cutting their finger. Why don't they do something about it? Many feel that the expense of fixing it isn't worth it, so 43 percent of people don't bother. They either continue using it or throw it away."
Depending on a damaged device is bad for business. Those cracked screens don't miraculously heal, and often the problem gets worse and worse. Ignoring a problem is no solution, but often the thought of having to buy a new device and set up the apps, transfer the data, and go through the rigmarole of getting everything "just right" can be daunting. It's also tough to know what to do with the old device - throw it away? Recycle it? How to make sure the data is safely removed first?
Sometimes repair is the better, more cost-effective and easiest option. iCracked is one organization seeking to make device repair easier.
iCracked for Business, a new extension of iCracked's core consumer services, is a service whereby 5,000 active technicians - within proximity of 94% of the US population - can be dispatched to a site or location to repair a broken mobile device, during or outside of business hours. They also operate in Germany and the United Kingdom. iCracked technicians, "iTechs," - who represent the top 3% of those who apply for the job - carry kits with screen parts and tools for flagship Android and iOS products. Every iTech in the global network has undergone an extensive background check and rigorous training. iCracked warranties their repairs for the lifetime of the device - if they fix an iPad touch screen and it breaks 2 years later, the repair is free.
iCracked also has an device trade-in program; to sell a device you can access their site and get a quote from them. If you agree to continue with the transaction, a technician will come to your location and obtain the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity - a fingerprint which makes each device unique) to make sure it's not lost or stolen. Once the server clears the transaction they will pay for the device. This works in bulk as well; for instance, school districts can move from the iPad 2 to the iPad AIR, and iCracked can send a tech onsite to coordinate 200 trade-ins at the click of a button.
I checked in with A.J. Forsythe, CEO of iCracked, to discuss their business model and how their company works. AJ started the company with a co-founder in 2010 on a college campus in his dorm room at Cal Polytechnic.
Scott Matteson: "How do you factor in BYOD (employee-owned devices?)"
A.J. Forsythe: "We handle many different types of MDM (mobile device management) policies within organizations, whether they support company-owned devices or BYOD devices. We are flexible and offer different solutions for companies large and small, without the need for formal contracts. Whether you'd like bulk repairs for corporate fleets or device-by-device repairs for BYOD policies as you need them, we're happy to create a program that adheres to specific needs."
SM: "Do you make house calls/support remote travelers?"
AJF: "Our 5,000 iTechs across the U.S. are completely mobile, traveling to customers anywhere and everywhere. With on-demand, on-site repair service at the click of a button, it's the easiest and most professional way to fix devices, whether repairing employee devices at the client's headquarters, point of sale tablets at retail locations, or sales representatives' smartphones in the field, plus many more."
SM: "What's the average wait time for a tech/repair time?"
AJF: "Repair appointments are dependent on the client's preferences. Most repairs are completed same day, pending client availability, and take less than 40 minutes to complete. iPhone repairs are done on-site with the customer, ensuring total security. iPad repairs require a longer setting time for adhesive given the larger size, so we offer next-day and mail-repairs in addition to on-site as to not inconvenience the customer with a longer repair time."
SM: "What are some of the most common problems you see?"
AJF: "90% of our requests are for cracked screens, with the remaining 10% accounting for charging ports and fried batteries. We can do any other type of repair/replacement."
SM: "Can you give me any details about pricing plans?"
AJF: "Our iCracked for Business repairs are very comparable to our consumer prices and industry prices. However, unlike most, every single repair we do comes with a lifetime warranty on all parts and labor.
SM: "Is there a plan for a consumer-based service?"
AJF: "As I mentioned above, iCracked began as a consumer-based business in 2010. We did $25M in revenue last year. While growing that consumer business, we discovered a massively underserved sector of the repair market within enterprise services, and iCracked for Business was born."
SM: "What's coming in the future?"
AJF: "We are talking with carriers about same-day repair solutions. Most customers don't have insurance on their devices, so if they break their phone they are told they have to buy a new one. We're also rolling out retail stores in Japan in the coming two years. Our goal is to change the way consumers and businesses care for their devices."
The company offers three core price offerings, according to Forsythe:
1. On-site at multiple campuses: For instance, they work with a client who has almost two dozen campuses across the U.S., and send iTechs to those sites to conduct repairs around the clock.
2. For retailers that have iPads/iPhones as POS systems, they ship in bulk. iCracked works with a large beverage company that does advanced exchanges to replenish their mobile device fleet.
3. Small-medium business a la carte offerings. An example would be a company of 10-100 employees using iCracked as a one-off repair option as needed.
It's often better to repair, rather than toss away a broken device. It's better for the environmental, and often, the company's bottom line.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.