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Hardware Hacking Patents Technology (Apple) Build

Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse" 539

Posted by timothy
from the if-not-expressly-allowed-then-goto-prohibited dept.
Toe, The writes "Apple has submitted a patent application for technologies which would detect device-abuse by consumers. The intent presumably being to aid in determining the validity of warranty claims. 'Consumer abuse events' would be recorded by liquid and thermal sensors detecting extreme environmental exposures, a shock sensor detecting drops or other impacts, and a continuity sensor to detect jailbreaking or other tampering. The article also notes that liquid submersion detectors are already deployed in MacBook Pros, iPhones and iPods. It does seem reasonable that a corporation would wish to protect itself from fraudulent warranty claims; however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond the tinfoil-hat community."
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Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

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  • by ls671 (1122017) * on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:31PM (#28976209) Homepage

    Well I guess this could make sense, I know people that really abuse the vendors by returning products that have been used in non-warranty covered conditions and I have always known that I am indirectly paying for them when I buy a new product.

    > however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting
    > what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond
    > the tinfoil-hat community.

    The line is thin, but I guess if different agencies or companies want to spy on people, they won't tell us in advance anyway.

    Problems could arise in case the "abuse detection" device malfunctions and falsely report abuse by the consumer.

    As stated in TFA this is already done anyway, I don't see public pressure stopping this.

    • by oenone.ablaze (1133385) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:38PM (#28976341)
      Apple would probably make money in the end through decreased support costs, but all the same I'd be a lot less inclined to get AppleCare if I felt that there was a significant risk of wear-and-tear getting interpreted by this sensor as "abuse."
      • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:02PM (#28976827) Homepage Journal

        I'm skeptical their products would get any cheaper no matter how much money they save. People have shown how much they're willing to pay, why charge less?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Red Flayer (890720)

          People have shown how much they're willing to pay, why charge less?

          Competition.

          If your product costs (including warranty fulfillment) are lower than your competitor's, you can sell at a lower price while still maintaining profitability. This means that you can underprice your competitors, thus getting a larger market share == more sales == more profit.

          Keep in mind that in the long term, for an ideal free market, sale price approaches marginal production cost.

          • by Steve Franklin (142698) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @04:59PM (#28978735) Homepage Journal

            What you are missing is that Apple is not selling steak, it's selling sizzle. When you can walk into an Apple Store and all you see are monitors, with wires running into holes in the counter where the mysterious computers are hidden, you begin to understand that the standard Apple consumer has no idea what a computer is beyond some kind of fancy interactive TV set.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Red Flayer (890720)
              I'm not missing that. All of Apple's marketing and branding has changed the shape of the demand curves for their products. That's a function of their marketing success, and the gullibility of potential buyers. That does not mean that economics does not apply.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Most economic theory assumes people in the marketplace are rational.

                With Apple customers, that assumption, and the economic theory that depends on it, goes out the window!

          • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @05:03PM (#28978805)

            Keep in mind that in the long term, for an ideal free market, sale price approaches marginal production cost.

            In a simplified world without brand names (luxery goods whose selling point is exclusivity), with infinte access to infinitly patient capital (otherwise many businesses cannot be started), without any fixed costs (otherwise selling units at marginal production cost is a money loser... and this implies no recouping/paying off of startup costs, hence no startup loans either, which means see point two), intellectual property protection (without which good luck getting R and D funding), perfectly rational actors, etc.

      • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#28976987) Homepage

        Pretty much unless you live in the American Southwest or the Sahara (or a similar extremely dry enviroment), there is significant risk.

        Even moderate climates such as upstate New York have enough humidity in the summer to indicate a false positive on the LIS after a year or two - it happened to a friend with her Samsung phone. Never submerged, but the LIS was red anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Conveniently, they are replaceable [ecrater.com](no endorsement of that particular vendor is implied.)

          Makes me wonder how long it'll be before somebody gets brought up on the consumer electronics equivalent of insurance fraud charges for using one of those...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DarthStrydre (685032)

            Conveniently, a fresh one looks very similar to the shinyness of generic sticker material or white nail polish or white out depending on the surface texture.

            Just a thought.

        • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @04:44PM (#28978527)
          I ran into an issue with this as well. I lost a 500$ smart phone because they wouldn't replace it. At the time I worked for a beer distributor, which meant constantly going in and out of coolers all day. Condensation formed inside the phone because it wasn't sealed, and set off all of the water-spill stickers. However, the phone worked fine. It wasn't until the earpiece eventually failed because of poor soldering that I had to take it in. Then they wouldn't repair it. I can only imagine that going in and out of air conditioned environments would also wreak havoc on such systems.
      • by MacDaffy (28231) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:37PM (#28977461)

        I provide AppleCare service and normal wear-and-tear don't even catch my attention. I don't kick a repair for scuffs, scratches, dents, or dings. But I've been brought:

        --A MacBook that was "dropped a little." The hard drive had impacted so hard that you can hear the parts rattling around in it (I still have it);

        --An iMac (Aluminum) with display problems. I opened it, found evidence of a liquid spill, and the customer's daughter confessed that her boyfriend threw a beer at it;

        --A MacBook whose "case had cracked"... someone to remove the top case without referring to a manual and ripped the bottom case from its fasteners on the frame;

        --A wireless keyboard that "wouldn't work." Turned it in for testing and, as it heated, water came oozing out of the battery bay.

        All these people expected these incidents to be covered under the AppleCare warranty. If I'm brought a machine that isn't working due to a defect in manufacturing or the failure of an Apple- covered part, I'll do everything that needs to be done to get it fixed and the customer doesn't pay a dime (but if you've installed third-party drives or memory to which a problem is attributable, tough luck, Chuck).

        But if it's drowned, dropped, or ripped apart, Apple is under no obligation to pay for user carelessness. Period.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          (but if you've installed third-party drives or memory to which a problem is attributable, tough luck, Chuck).

          Do you use the Nintendo policy of "if it's there it's at fault" or do you actually check if it was at fault?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MacDaffy (28231)

            Do you use the Nintendo policy of "if it's there it's at fault" or do you actually check if it was at fault?

            I'd be stupid not to check. I always ask if any modifications have been made to the machine. If the original parts are available, I swap them in and test. If you don't have the original parts, you're out of luck. If you do have them and the original parts work, you're out of luck. If the machine doesn't work with the original parts replaced, then the problem is attributable to something else and is covered.

            As Apple's representative to the customer, I owe the company and the customer my best effort

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DurendalMac (736637)
          Oh man, I have some similar stories from the bench...

          -Some bozo with his daughter and a cracked Macbook screen. She swore up and down that it "just happened" and her daddy refused to believe his precious snowflake would lie.

          -A guy who left his Macbook in the back of his truck. It opened up and broke in half thanks to other heavy items and some rough road. Literally. The screen was smashed and snapped off the body. He was surprised that Applecare wouldn't cover it.

          -A Macbook Pro that was just flat-o
    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:39PM (#28976363) Homepage Journal
      TFA didn't mention the worst part. My friend is an Apple employee assigned to this technology and he told me that, among the sensors mentioned in TFA, there will be an additional "secret" sensor which will void the warranty and brick the device if it detects heterosexual sex.

      The design of the secret sensor is widely viewed by insiders as a response to those who voted for prop 8.
    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#28976381)

      My iPod explodes/catches fire [timesonline.co.uk]. Apple's sensors indicate a severe temperature spike and a sharp jolt.

      So here's the question, what exactly does this indicate? Cars have even more sophisticated black boxes and even then they rarely are able to piece together what actually happened using just that data. Does anyone actually think that these sensors are going to be used in any other way than blanket warranty denials?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        Don't worry, the terms of use will be altered by Apple's megalomaniacal support team that there'll be no legal way to contest any judgement that any failure in the iPod is due to Apple's own engineering flaws. What's more, when people bitch on Slashdot about it, a bunch of pathetic Apple fanbois will come in droves to defend the whole scheme. Isn't that how it's worked with everything Apple has done so far?

        • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:24PM (#28977233)

          Don't worry, the terms of use will be altered by Apple's megalomaniacal support team

          Pray we do not alter them further.

      • ... wait until the Face Crime app is part of the standard install. That will bake your noodle.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:24PM (#28977237)

        I have never had a problem with Apple taking care of equipment I've purchased from them.

        Many years ago, I packed my laptop in a briefcase that was filled to the brim. It's the only time I had ever travelled that way, and it will be the last. The case was initially snug, but after receiving more paperwork on the job, the briefcase became too full, and when I closed the lid, the external pressure cracked the LCD in several pieces. Apple replaced the screen at no cost to me, though I wouldn't have held them to doing so, and I didn't misrepresent what had happened.

        A few months ago, my MacBook Pro failed to boot. Had been shutdown properly and unplugged, but on attempted restart failed to do anything. I tried the various resets I remembered, googled for other options; no joy. Dead computer. I suspected the drive was OK, and I really didn't want to lose the work I had been doing; so I removed the hard drive and installed it in a G4 tower, moved all my files over, then reassembled the laptop. Naturally, one of the tiny exterior case screws fell into the carpet while I was reassembling, never to be seen again.

        The computer was, I think, obviously clean and well taken care of; but the missing screw was probably enough to void the warranty, even without any fancier patented sensors installed. Certainly suggested the computer had been opened. Even so, Apple replaced the motherboard without question under Apple Care.

        Anecdotal - of course. But it's my experience, and I'll keep going to Apple until such a time as they make it not worth my while.

    • by FCAdcock (531678) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:41PM (#28976391) Homepage Journal

      Even cheap cell phones have submersion detectors these days to prevent people from turning in phones that got dropped into water. Although I have one that took a quick swim and yet works fine other than rebooting any time I type the word "economist" into a text message with auto spell on. (a samsung SGH A117)

      Some companies are really good about returned items even with obvious misuse. I'll never buy any watch other than a citizen again after my last one got replaced. I sent the half of it that I could find back with a letter telling them it stopped a rifle round and thanked them for making such darn good watches and within a week I had a brand new one that I never even asked for. Plus never having to worry about batteries or time zones is a MAJOR plus for me. I just wish they made one with a vibrating alarm so I could use it in the field.

      • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot&nexusuk,org> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:57PM (#28976709) Homepage

        Even cheap cell phones have submersion detectors these days to prevent people from turning in phones that got dropped into water.

        If enough people drop their phones in water to warrant sticking sensors in to void the warranty claims, I would have thought that demonstrates a consumer demand for waterproof devices rather than a demand for warranty voiding sensors...

        In any case, I think all the phones I've ever had have got wet one way or another (2 of them soaked in sea water more than once). They all survived surprisingly well, coming back to life after being dismantled, soaked in deionised water and a couple of days drying out. The only device I've drowned which hasn't done so well is my "waterproof, nitrogen filled" Garmin eTrex Venture GPS, which turned out to not be so waterproof - it has mostly recovered, but the screen goes crazy every so often (percussive maintenance fixes it) so I think I need to dismantle it and soak it again. Oh, and a cheap waterproof Casio watch which survived many windsurfing sessions only to fill with water when I washed the car.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701)

          How old is that eTrex? As I understand it, the old "nitrogen filled" waterproff GPS units lose a lot of their waterproofness over the years as the nitrogen slowly leaks out. Plus the same tricks intended to keep water out keep it in once it gets in.

          Newer waterproof Garmins have lots of rubber gaskets but not dry nitrogen filling, which means it's easier to dry out the unit in the event that water does enter the unit.

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        If I made watches & one of them stopped a rifle round I'd make damn sure it got replaced, you'd be more likely to keep telling that story if you had a similar watch on your wrist to remind you. :D

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        The first thing I do when I get a phone is put sticky tape over the fucking water sensors.

        They've been known to go off if you leave them on the counter while you take a shower.

        Realistically, the dots are just there so when you take your phone in saying "It's broken" they can take it in the back to do some bullshit "test" that actually involves an eyedropper full of water. "Oh, water damage, no warranty, sorry. Buy a new phone!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toddestan (632714)

          If the device is CE certified (most cell phones are, unless it's a model they don't plan on selling in Europe), the device needs to withstand an environmental test, part of which (IIRC) two days spent in an environmental chamber where the temp is held at 40C and 95% humidity. The device doesn't need to be powered on while in the chamber, but once removed from the chamber it still needs to operate. Such conditions would surely turn the sticker red - I wonder if these companies are able to get away with thi

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:43PM (#28976431) Homepage

      Our sensor indicates you took your mac book to a mom and pop coffee shop instead of a Starbucks.

      your warranty is voided.

      • by ls671 (1122017) *

        Well, I do not use Apple products at all, I never have since my assembly for the Mac course in 1987 ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NovaHorizon (1300173)

      "Sir, we can't replace your Iphone for the blow speaker because our system shows the device was in 120+ degree weather for longer than 30 seconds."

      "I drove here in a car with no AC. It's 113 degrees outside.. I just called first and you guys said it would be fine."

      "Sorry sir, our sensor doesn't record when the event took place, simply that the event took place. Have a nice day."

    • by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad DOT arnett AT notforhire DOT org> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:47PM (#28976529)

      and I have always known that I am indirectly paying for them when I buy a new product.

      Do you honestly think that the company (any company, not just Apple) would charge you less if people did not do this? The difference is going to boost their profit margin, and since people already have no problems overpaying for a product, they will see no need to lower the price at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      Lots of cars already do this... A friend of mine red-lined his Saturn Coupe several times, and when he got a regular servicing at the dealership they told him his warranty on the power train was no longer valid (though the rest of the warranty was valid, IIRC). This was back in fall of '94 or spring of '95, I'd imagine that this practice has become more extensively implemented and more widespread since then.

      Personally, I'm all for it -- as you say, we all pay more for goods when people abuse warranties on
    • The line is thin, but I guess if different agencies or companies want to spy on people, they won't tell us in advance anyway.

      You would think that putting cameras, microphones, wireless connection technologies, and autoupgrade technologies into laptops, cellphones, etc., would be more likely to give people the heebie-jeebies than a few accelerometers and other abuse-sensing devices. Is Apple going to use sensors in your iPod to tell if you take it jogging?

      Problems could arise in case the "abuse detection" d

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by erice (13380)
      Reminds me of a fight I had with Minolta about my "water damaged" camera. They insisted that my camera had water damage and that was no covered. I told them truthfully that my camera had not been rained on or immersed. They pointed to a corroded screw. I pointed to three months of 100% humidity that is standard for SE Asia in the rainy season. (Where the factory is located). They eventually relented but when the camera failed a second time, shortly after my trip ended, they insisted they insisted that
  • I believe that ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:33PM (#28976243) Homepage
    ... as the abused get smarter, the abusers also get smarter at an equal or quicker pace.
    • except the abusers are generally morons who dropped their cell phone in a toilet then dried it with a hairdryer and returned it saying 'it just stopped working'.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:50PM (#28976587)

        except the abusers are generally morons who dropped their cell phone in a toilet then dried it with a hairdryer and returned it saying 'it just stopped working'.

        One of my former co-workers was tasked with setting up a wireless network for our academic department, but our boss didn't want to spend money on an enterprise-grade deployment. So my co-worker went out and bought consumer-grade APs, then hacked them to run at higher power using instructions he found on the net. Of course this meant components were being used out-of-spec, and a significant number of the units failed within the first year - at which point my co-worker - with our boss' full knowledge - returned them for warranty replacement.

        So while I'm sure there are plenty of "morons who dropped their cell phone in a toilet", I suspect a fair number of the people that abuse equipment (and costs us consumers money in terms of higher prices) are right here on Slashdot - they're just better at not getting caught.

    • by retchdog (1319261)

      That's true, but the abusers get smarter because there are fewer of them, since the not-as-bright/knowledgeable ones get weeded out. Everyone's happy; the techies get a "challenge"; the company gets fewer warranty abuses; and no one is really conscious of the change that just took place.

  • Please patent it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kabloom (755503) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:36PM (#28976297) Homepage

    Please patent it, Apple. Then I can buy my cell phone from someone else and know that this technology isn't included.

    • Re:Please patent it (Score:5, Informative)

      by krlynch (158571) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:42PM (#28976409) Homepage

      Many companies already include such devices in their phones. The one you have already may have passive water immersion sensors ... little stickers that change color if they get wet. I know for a fact that a number of LG and Samsung models have these, just inside the battery compartment. Google "cell phone water sensor" for a flavoring of what's already out there...

      • by Znork (31774)

        Having not dropped a cellphone in water, do they actually reliably break from freshwater incidents? Most components should be water proof, and any stray currents due to, at least, freshwater conductivity should be far below tolerance and very unlikely to actually damage anything permanently.

        I've had several keyboards, an mp3 player and flash memories subjected to various fluid exposures and none of them suffered more than at most temporary mechanical failures, easily dealt with by cleaning and/or room tempe

      • by radtea (464814)

        The one you have already may have passive water immersion sensors ... little stickers that change color if they get wet.

        Yeah, I immersed a cell phone a few years back, took it in for replacement and told them I had immersed it, and the first thing they did was pop that battery and say, "You sure did." There were a couple of stickers that were bright red, whereas the ones on the replacement phone were white.

        That makes perfect sense to me, as lots of people will for some reason lie about this stuff, as I gue

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Except that they already are in most (well most expensive) phones. Motorola's have had them for at least the last 5 years...

    • Please patent it, Apple. Then I can buy my cell phone from someone else and know that this technology isn't included.
      patent

      You know that companies (even public ones) don't have to disclose their patent-licensing agreements.

      Even the in the absence of an actual agreement, a manufacturer like Nokia or Motorola almost certainly have enough patents of their own to hold over Apple in case of suit. Mutually-assured-destruction is a stable equilibrium.

  • Time of event (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:36PM (#28976301)
    Simple devices offer ways to tell if a package has been dropped or turned upside down, but how do they prove that the event didn't happen before the device was in the hands of the customer. If they tell people to check them when the receive the device, then people are more likely to try to defeat them.
  • This will hardly make Apple products cheaper since it will lead to higher hardware prices.
  • by newgalactic (840363) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:37PM (#28976317)
    They can include whatever sensors they want. And I can buy whatever I want. There's no way I'll buy a smartphone that doesn't allow me to install software of my choice. This walled-garden crap is making me look to the HTC Hero, or whatever new Android phone is on the horizon.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This walled-garden crap is making me look to the HTC Hero, or whatever new Android phone is on the horizon.

      I was really unhappy with the hardware of the HTC Raphael, in my case Fuze and not Touch Pro. The sliding keyboard cable had a known defect repairable with electrical tape, but instead of taping the cable into the connector so it wouldn't fail, they left people making repeated warranty replacements.

  • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:37PM (#28976325) Homepage

    recorded by liquid and thermal sensors
    I can get those already. Common in the shipping industry.
    detecting extreme environmental exposures
    How is this different than a thermal sensor? Common in the shipping industry, but not everywhere depending on the environmental element they are testing for.
    a shock sensor detecting drops or other impacts
    I can slap one of those inside any old box now. Apple puts it inside a laptop and it's a patent?
    and a continuity sensor to detect jailbreaking or other tampering
    Now, this *really* has been done. Permanent adhesives on a holographic label? Anyone? anyone?

    • recorded by liquid and thermal sensors I can get those already. Common in the shipping industry. detecting extreme environmental exposures How is this different than a thermal sensor? Common in the shipping industry, but not everywhere depending on the environmental element they are testing for. a shock sensor detecting drops or other impacts I can slap one of those inside any old box now. Apple puts it inside a laptop and it's a patent? and a continuity sensor to detect jailbreaking or other tampering Now, this *really* has been done. Permanent adhesives on a holographic label? Anyone? anyone?

      You're right. Obviously, the Slashdot Article Summary is not worthy of being patented.

      However, that has very little to do with the limitations of this application, which include:

      1. A system for detecting consumer abuse in an electronic device, the system comprising:one or more sensors configured to detect an occurrence of an abuse event;abuse detection circuitry configured to receive indication of the occurrence of the abuse event from the one or more sensors and to generate a record corresponding to the occurrence of the abuse event upon receiving the indication;a memory device configured to store the record; andan interface configured to facilitate communication between the electronic device and an external device.

      That rules out the holographic stickers, at least.

  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:38PM (#28976335)

    Those "submersion detectors" it work really well, right up until the local weather calls for 100% relative humidity. I've seen RIM deny multiple replacement requests due to triggered sensors.

    • by parcel (145162)

      That's my biggest problem with this... what's the false positive rate (hardware failure as well as unintentional triggers e.g. humidity vs. submersion) on the sensors?

    • by cecille (583022) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:53PM (#28976643)
      Indeed. I went in to the phone shop for a completely unrelated problem (my voice mail kept telling people it was full despite the fact that I had no saved messages on it). The sales rep asked for my phone, which I handed over despite the fact that the problem obviously had nothing to do with the phone itself. She opened the phone and pointed at a half-red (as in, half was red, half was white, not that it was pink) sticker and told me the voice mail was not working because my phone had liquid damage. Notwithstanding the fact that the reason she gave is obviously not right, the supposed water damage never actually happened. That was the only phone I've managed to keep until the end of its contract without dropping it in a lake or a sink or a toilet. So I asked her how exactly one would drop the phone into liquid such that half the sticker would get wet (it's not large) and she said she didn't know but humidity might cause it and the stickers on that phone model were a bit sensitive because the cover was thin.

      So as much as these measures protect the company from fraud, they open the consumer up to fraud because the company now has more reasons to deny warranty repairs even if the supposed incident never happened.
      • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:52PM (#28977695) Homepage Journal

        Apple is already happy to deny warranties based on any circumstancial evidence.

        They denied a warranty claim on my wife's iBook when its hard drive got click-of-death and simply gave up. They claimed that we had spilled coffee into the laptop, and attemped to document this via "brown dots" on the metal shield on the bottom of the laptop's inner-metal liner [i.e. the exterior side, not the logic board side].

        I asked them how they figured one could spill coffee against the forces of gravity from the bottom up into a laptop, and furthermore how this would prevent a hard drive from spinning up properly.

        The apple store employee was livid that I would dare to question his judgement, but no matter how I pressed the issue, he simply responded with "our warranty doesn't cover your mistakes.". Never mind that hard drives are a known failure item on computers; it just happens sometimes and you get a replacement and life goes on. Not so with apple.

        The actual convesration was considerably more demeaning towards me. I was reasonably tempted to commit physical assault against the guy, and it was only the fact that the conversation transpired over a phone that probably kept me out of jail.

        Essentially, fuck apple.

  • Is it worth it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stokessd (89903) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#28976375) Homepage

    It must be worth it, but it seems that it's a rare bit of abuse that hurts the internals but leaves the exterior shell and windows etc on the product free of teltale signs. That would rule out:

    High-G impacts - which require a hard surface to stop the motion of the unit very quickly. This would leave a tell-tale blemish on the case.

    Imersion in liquids - This would leave dried residue unless it's immersed in de-ionized water or other pure substance that wouldn't leave any residue. With no residue, the unit may not be damaged when it dries out.

    Jailbreaking sensor - BINGO! This is the real money maker.

    The only reason to include these things is to improve product reliability (nope), customer satisfaction (nope), profit (yup). And I don't see a whole lot of profit increase in anything but preventing jailbreaking.

    Sheldon

  • prove it to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:42PM (#28976407) Homepage Journal
    Normally, shock sensors like this are placed on the outside of shipping crates or pallets. If I am going to shell out money for equipment that can tattle on me with hidden sensors, I will have to have them open the device and prove that none of the tattle-markers are already spoiled.
    • by Renraku (518261)

      Between the time you come in and 'sign in' at the cell phone shop and when your name is called, you've got about 30 seconds to state your problem or desires before they lose interest and move on to the next person. If you say you're interested in the phone, they see a sale. If you want them to take the phone apart and void the warranty, they see multiple lost sales in the hour it will take the sales person to fumble their way around the inside of the phone.

      So they'll just ignore you and move on, and let t

  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:45PM (#28976471) Homepage

    Apple gets forgiven for everything, but if Microsoft even hinted of this they'd get flamed.

    Had Apple won the PC wars of the 80's they'd be a far greater satan than Microsoft ever tried to be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LordKazan (558383)

      i'll gladly flame apple for it. i forgive them for nothing. to me they're almost no different than microsoft.

  • by Dr_Ken (1163339) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:46PM (#28976503) Journal
    I can see the economic rationale for going this route but the "hip & cool" aspect of Apple stuff is going to be diminished by it. I want innovation and technical progress that lowers the price, increases the functionality, is ergonomic and looks cool as hell. It is for that reason I buy Apple products. This crap on the other hand doesn't help me that much if at all. It might lower the price a few pennies but it'll make it that much harder to make a warranty claim too and so there goes a big chunk of good will down the tubes. I hope the few pennies they save with this equals what stand to lose. Sheesh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tool462 (677306)

      It won't lower the price. That is set by external market forces--supply and demand. The company's goal is then to minimize their costs to improve their margins. This will get them a few extra pennies of profit. You, as a consumer, will only see a benefit if you happen to be an Apple stock-holder.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435)

      I can see the economic rationale for going this route but the "hip & cool" aspect of Apple stuff is going to be diminished by it.

      How?

      When a mac fanboy's ipod dies and cant get it fixed under warranty they'll go out and buy another ipod. The fanboy wont even consider alternate devices like an iriver nor even think about considering that Apple products have a high rate of failure.

      I want innovation and technical progress that lowers the price, increases the functionality

      Apple does not do this. It's

  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:47PM (#28976525)

    The biggest problem I see with this is that these sensors won't be 100% accurate. Very few things in this world are.

    But manufacturers will almost certainly treat them as if they are.

    So let's say you have a faulty moisture sensor in your laptop and the laptop fails through no fault of your own - it goes back and you get a rude email a week later saying "You let it get wet. Go away."

    Obviously you can take the "sue the bastards" approach, but let's be real here, they're going to stand up in court and say "There is a moisture sensor in this unit which was triggered, therefore it got wet". How do you prove that in your case the moisture sensor was faulty without spending a small fortune?

    • by Renraku (518261)

      You're not going to be able to prove it without doing testing on them, and you probably can't get your hands on a supply of them to test.

      Like most things, the spec was probably sent to China, the fee for so many units paid, and then the design was 'changed' to be cheaper, without letting the purchaser know. It's standard practice for companies to only test a few units, and usually only the units that are specifically given to them for testing.

      Make of this what you will, but keep in mind that humidity can a

  • Who's more evil? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:50PM (#28976595)

    Is it just me, or is Apple more Evil than Microsoft these days?

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      Apple is the new Microsoft for what's in fashion this season to bash on /. .

  • > "...however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond the tinfoil-hat community."

    Seems someone has overlooked that fact that certain cars have had their computers ratting out crash info to dealers and insurance agencies for years now....speeding? Didn't hit the brakes?

    Get off Apple's back unless you want to pay for abusive users yourself....jack.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm getting tired of this. As an aged millionaire I have few pleasures in life other than making toboggans out of top of the line macbook pros. I don't need apple telling me what I can and can't do with my property. I'd sue them, but I'm also eccentric and don't have a phone to call a lawyer.

    Just stay out of my damn business Apple!

  • by cprocjr (1237004)
    If they are actual sensors (like a thermometer) and not just sensors that detect if you have gone past a threshold they should allow developers to use the info that they gather. Cause it would be kinda cool to have a thermometer and a moister sensor app.
  • by cjeze (596987) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:01PM (#28976791)
    When my headphone jack started failing I investigated the issue on-line. I found several similar cases on line and thought this would be a breeze to get fixed on my warranty. It was a well known issue with the sensor inside the iPhone detecting whether the headphone was plugged in. So I sent in the phone for repairs but apparently the water sensor on the docking connector was slightly "not white" (translated: they believe that the water sensor is triggered) thus rendering the warranty void. The repair service log showed me that the repairman used less than 2 seconds deciding that my warranty was void, even though the phone was working perfectly - except for this error with the headphone jack. This "2 second job" gave 3 alternatives for me online: 1) scrap the phone, price: free 2) return the phone unrepaired, £70 service fee 3) repair phone (new phone £550) I chose alternative 2, it was the only real option for me. Adding more sensors/detectors is probably great for Apple. But they need to inform and disclose this in their user manuals, clearly visibly in your warranty. I didn't find out about the water sensors until after it was repaired. The problem with these sensors is if they are triggered without you doing anything wrong to the phone, and this mean that if a sensor is triggered and you get a hardware error not at all related to the sensor being triggered you will not be able to have your device fixed because the warranty is void. Another important aspect is that any sensor could also be triggered BEFORE you even open the box. WTH are you supposed to do if the phone is pre-broken. How can you check your sensors is not triggered?
  • by bcmm (768152)
    The sensors and logging infrastructure must cost money

    Who in their right mind would pay the inevitable higher price that a device with such sensors would have?

    Oh, wait... We're talking about Apple here...
  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:07PM (#28976915)

    I don't work for Apple, but the company I do work for also has manufactured laptops in the past. Not so long ago I took a call from an individual that wanted to complain that his unit was now under warranty, and a third repair would not be covered. He'd already had the motherboard and hard drive repaired under warranty. The kicker is that *all* of the problems started only after he dropped the unit off a table, which "would never cause this kind of problem!". So at the time I took the call, he had already received free repairs twice by lying about damage he caused, and then had the audacity to complain about not receiving further repairs for failures resulting from the same drop incident, and threatening never to buy products from the company again because of it. There's nothing you can do about bad word-of-mouth negative advertising from an idiot like that, but Apple's plan may at least prevent wasting money on unwarranted repairs that a parasitic individual lied about.

  • Solution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:15PM (#28977057)
    Don't buy Apple products?

    I'm a bit surprised at the negativity towards Apple, lately. Every day for weeks, there seems to be a story about how Apple is screwing its customers or developers. That's fine; I really don't like them or their products. But I wonder if there is now a buzz-driven backlash against the company?

    I suppose that a company that lives on trendiness, is particularly vulnerable to trends, as well. I would have thought that corporate management at apple would understand that the moment Apple begins being viewed as 'corporate' by American hopsters, their rapid ascension would come to a screeching halt. They need to loosen up a bit... or at least SEEM to loosen up. I know they won't ever open up their hardware, but they need to do something to stop the flood of stories portraying Apple as a vicious, tyrannical censorer of applications and information. The easiest way would be to STOP being a vicious, tyrannical censorer of applications and information.
  • by SineNomen (1613011) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:15PM (#28977063)

    however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond the tinfoil-hat community.

    IMHO, as long as devices don't "phone home" and the data is kept in the device until the *owner* submits it for warranty repairs there is no foul. If we get lower prices (or a delay in a price increases) and/or longer warranties then the tradeoff seems reasonable. Of course I'm biased, I worked in tech support long ago and I am a bit familiar with the -- hmm how shall I put this -- the "opportunistic" nature of a non-trivial number of consumers. :-) To be fair I think that owners should be able to see the current sensor logs, Settings | General | About on an iPhone for example, if for no other reason than to verify the devices state at the time of purchase. While in a manufacturing facility I've seen s person spill a box of hard drives onto the floor and perform a couple of did-anyone-see-that head swivels as they picked up the drives.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @03:33PM (#28977381)

    If Apple or any other company uses this technology against their customers, I predict many phone batteries will "catch fire". It can't be too hard to make a Lithium-Ion battery go up in flames. Hell, it seems to be hard to PREVENT them from exploding.

    So instead of hair-drying a wet phone, customers will cause the battery to go nuclear and then take the smoldering mess to the store demanding a replacement.

    Short of building the sensors into an airplane black-box type device (which might hurt the phone's portability a bit) it is unlikely any of these sensors would survive a fire.

    I had a Motorola Q that started smoking one day while it was charging. The battery was so hot, I couldn't hold it for more than a few seconds. The case started melting, and I'm sure if I hadn't been there, it would have caught fire.

    The Verizon guy replaced the phone, no hassle, no questions.

    -ted

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:44PM (#28979993) Homepage

    Yet another run-around the consumer so that they can sell products with a "warranty" then fail to live up to it.

    Scenario: 1 month into having my iPod, It suffers a light drop to the floor from the couch. Nothing is wrong with it - but the "drop sensor" records it as exceeding the impact tolerance. 6 months later, the battery fries itself and no longer works. I mail it back - guess what? WARRANTY DENIED for a totally unrelated occurrence.

  • Hey, how about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @11:23PM (#28982151)

    ... making the products more durable, rather than adding the "fuck you" sensors?

    Apple Inc. is one evil bastardization of a once great company.

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