2014: A Year in Repair
What a fantastic year to be part of the booming wireless repair industry! As we pause in reflection of the past year spent serving the Repair Community, we are inspired by the growth of the community and industry as a whole.
2014 was the year of Red Tape and the dawn of the gTool; it was the first year of the Wireless Repair Expo, and the year the Repair Community truly came together in alliance and camaraderie.
It was also a year of changes for many of us in the repair industry. News of longtime customers selling high to get out of the repair business is a bittersweet reminder that success means different things to different people. It also helps to remind us that change isn’t always a bad thing – and choosing to adapt to, rather than resist these changes, is the only way to keep up with such a rapidly changing industry.
For the team at eTech Parts, 2014 was a year to remember. Attending CES in January was an event I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. CES is best described as all the sights and sounds of a rapidly evolving technological ecosystem, all in one place. When our heads weren’t spinning from the madness we were busy meeting customers, making new friends, and seeing the gTool iCorner for the first time.
In February, we survived yet another Chinese New Year thanks to early preparations and lots of overtime hours from our procurement team. Which reminds me.. It’s almost that time again!
In March, we introduced a new brand of iPhone repair tools to the repair industry. The gTool iCorner was every repair technician’s dream tool – a tool designed to repair bent aluminum corners on iPhones, iPads and iPods. Since March gTool has taken off and is now one of the top iPad repair tools on the market. eTech Parts is a proud distributor of gTool and we look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.
In April, warranty company SquareTrade announced partnership with local repair shops, including repair franchise UBreakiFix and Gadget Drop. This marked a huge advancement in wireless repair, as SquareTrade is one of the most well-known device insurance providers in the industry.
In May, Minnesota became the first state to pass a bill requiring all cell phones sold in the state to come equipped with antitheft software. The appropriately titled “kill switch” law goes into effect on July 1st 2015, and Minnesota wasn’t the only state to pass this bill. Similar legislature passed in California a couple months later, with similar bills proposed in Nevada and New Jersey. We’ll just have to wait as our government cuts through the red tape to see how this bill might affect the repair industry.
Speaking of Red Tape… Though us true believers have always known the power of Red Tape, 2014 was the year you fell in love. 2014 was the year “#RedTapePower” became a “thing.” And while bragging isn’t really OUR “thing,” I’m pretty sure Red Tape really took off after we released the 1mm size tape back in April. The Repair Community goes crazy for Red Tape, which is why it’s our favorite item to giveaway during Facebook contests!
In May, IBISWorld released a comprehensive report on the US Cell Phone Repair Industry. This 28-page report details revenue, profits, wages, industry performance, competitive landscape and tons more. To summarize… industry revenue reached $1.4 billion, with profits upwards of $71.6 million! Wages account for approximately 38.4% of revenue, which comes out to about $518.8 million. At the time of reporting there were 2,368 repair shops in the United States, with IBISWorld predicting an average annual growth rate of 5.8% or about 2600 repair shops by the end of 2014. The top 4 players in the cell phone repair industry account for less than 10% of industry revenue in 2014; meaning small business repair shops are still the reigning champions.
In June, the repair experts at mendmyi discovered a newsworthy iPhone repair issue. After seeing an influx of iPhone 5 charging issues, they found their answer hiding beneath the microscope in the iPhone’s logic board – specifically, they found damage to the U2 IC chip, a portion of the logic board which controls the charge to the battery. Symptoms of a faulty U2 IC chip include a battery that won’t charge beyond 1%, and an iPhone that automatically powers itself on. Third-party, or “knockoff” chargers were found to be the culprit – just another reason to make sure you’re using and selling only the highest quality, authorized charging accessories.
In June we got our hands on the gTool B-Series All-in-one Kit, which includes every gTool iCorner headset needed to repair the aluminum casing on an iPhone 5 and 5s, iPad 2/3/4, iPad Mini, iPad Air and the 4th generation iPod Touch – all in one little package. The Repair Community’s response to gTool was outstanding and the B-Series kit quickly became a top-seller.
Some stuff probably happened in August, too, but we’ll skip ahead to when the fun really began. September 9th marked the first day of the first-ever Wireless Repair Expo 2014 during CTIA Super Mobility Week at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas!
Not only was it the greatest week a group of technicians has probably ever had, the Wireless Repair Expo helped the Repair Community connect in a way unlike ever before. We were thrilled to be part of it but the true pride and inspiration came from seeing the Repair Community grow, share, connect and come together as a REAL Community. Thanks for letting us join the party!
During the Expo we were lucky enough to debut the gTool Panel Press as well as reveal the next invention from gTool – the Pad Jack. It’s a box that removes the glass screen from an iPad in like 90 seconds. It’s pretty crazy. More on that later this year.
While we were at the Wireless Repair Expo, Apple released not one but 2 brand-new iPhones - the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Both devices are bigger, better, and more bendable than any other iPhone previously released. Once it was revealed to the world that thin aluminum bends, BendGate blew everything out of proportion and took over the Internet for about 2 weeks. It also taught us the lesson that, as a society, our jeans are too tight and our phones too thin. Lesson learned.
In October, Apple released the updated iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Air 2. Both devices featured minimal changes, the most significant being the addition of Touch ID functionality.
While there was a lot happening in the months between October and December, one event – or rather, announcement – worth mentioning is eTech Parts has signed on as the Premier Partner of the Wireless Repair Expo 2015! Same time, same place, and hopefully all the same great people we met last year! Join eTech and the rest of the Repair Community September 9th – 11th for the Wireless Repair Expo 2015 during Super Mobility Week, powered by CTIA.
Through all the changes in the past year, the biggest change we saw in 2014 was YOU. The Repair Community shifted to become yet another resource for everyone to benefit from. Instead of considering other repair shop owners "the competition," in 2014 you learned how to bond with others in the industry to share, learn and grow together. Thanks for another great year and here's to an even better 2015!
What was your favorite part of 2014? What goals are you reaching for in 2015? We love hearing from the Repair Community so let us know in the comments below!