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There has been "mainstream news" recently about how Apple slows down phones using older batteries. I wondered how companies building electronics that have non-user-serviceable batteries should handle this, until I came over an example where a company is not only upfront about it, but integrate it into their marketing and business.

The Tile is a small Bluetooth device that would attach to some valuable to make it easier to find if it gets lost. For its use of a battery, it looks like the worst possible scenario: Their batteries cannot be recharged or replaced at all, and last about a year. Put another way, it will be automatically obsolete within a year.

At minimum, their product sheet are clear about that one-year life span, and almost try to sell it as something technically impressive (it somewhat is). In addition, near the end of that one-year period, they offer a recycling and replacement program called reTile that gives a yearly (but unspecified) rebate to replace your existing devices with new ones.

Put another way, they are quite upfront about the obsolescence of their electronic devices, and customer retention is done through yearly rebates. This is the complete opposite of what Apple did: Align both customer expectation with device repairs or replacements programs. Could the batteries be bigger? Surely. Could they be easier to replace? Surely. But if for any reason you don't do so, at least be upfront to your customers about it. Doing so is far better than losing customer trust.

Published on December 29, 2017 at 10:59 EST

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