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Apple Moving To Improve iPhone 5 Repairs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - In an attempt to save an estimated $1 billion annually, Apple (AAPL) will reportedly begin offering in-store screen replacement for problematic iPhone 5 devices.

According to recent reports, Apple Vice President Tara Bunch (formerly HP's (HPQ) VP of Global Support Operations), told a "town hall" session that Apple would be introducing a number of local repair services including the "in store" replacement of iPhone 5 screens for $149. The service would be available to customers who've purchased an AppleCare+ warranty plan - and also those who decided to pass on that offer.

In early morning trading, Apple is trading at $452.49, a gain of 0.39%.

Apple doesn't release actual numbers, but touchscreen swaps must be a large and expensive enough problem for them to react in such a manner. Usual problems are said to include cracked displays and screens that exhibit multi-touch problems.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is in an unusually strong position to upgrade its repair process. With hundreds of retail stores in the United States and around the world, Apple has a leg up on competition when it comes to offering a quick and more importantly localized process to fix a problem.

iPhone 5 screens are reportedly easily removed by applying suction directly to the front of the display. Apple will surely have a distributed a specialized tool to make it easy, foolproof and profitable for their in-store "Geniuses" to successfully complete the repair. Currently, Apple stores have tools to replace internal items such as batteries, buttons and speakers.

It's also expected that Apple will begin additional in-store repairs for iPhones as well as other iOS device (such as iPads) with the coming months. Apple is also rumored to be considering extending their warranty on new iPhones to a full year - possibly two years - in the near future as well as tweaking their AppleCare warranty plans.

Currently, Apple provides 90-days worth of free phone support for new devices (without an additional cost AppleCare service plan). Online support and visits to your local "Genius Bar" will continue as no-cost options.

There are also rumblings of Apple expanding what is known as their home advisor team - currently an army of 4,200 experts working from their homes instead of an office.

Expect the subject to be further discussed at Apple's big, upcoming event. Their Worldwide Developer's Conference 2013, in San Francisco, kicks-off at 1 pm Eastern, next Monday. We'll be in attendance to bring you live coverage of CEO Tim Cook's keynote presentation.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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