FORTUNE -- One of the reasons Apple (AAPL) can charge a premium for its products -- and enjoy profit margins that are the envy of tech world -- is that they come, as Steve Jobs once put it, "with motherhood built in." Not only are they usually better made than the competition, but they are accompanied with unmatched service and support.
So when there is a change in that level of support, it tends to get noticed. Witness Wednesday's blanket coverage of the news that Apple's 30-day iPhone return policy -- which let customers bring phones back to the store within a month and get a full refund, no questions asked -- had been cut to 14 days.
It was the second such cutback in as many weeks. At the end of February 9to5Mac reported that Apple will be charging $19 per incident for out-of-warranty chat support that used to be free. (Phone calls are even more expensive: $29 per incident for iOS devices, $49 for Macs.)
The timing of these changes -- in late February and early March -- is interesting. Spring is only a week away, and spring is when Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry's (BURBY), is expected to move into her new role as Apple's new senior vice president for retail, reporting directly to Tim Cook.
One of the mistakes Ahrendts' predecessor made was to alienate Apple's T-shirted retail staff by letting it be known that he thought the Apple Stores were "too bloated" with employees. Four months after John Browett arrived, the company issued a memo to staff describing his cutbacks as "a mistake." Two months later, he was gone.
Apple seems to have learned from the Browett debacle. If cutbacks in Apple's vaunted service and support need to be made, better to make them before Angela Ahrendts arrives.
The mourners included actors, singers, politicians and dozens of tech luminaries
Given the solemnity of the event and the intrusive curiosity of the media (a local news helicopter circled overhead), Apple (AAPL) was understandable tight-lipped about who was among the hundreds who attended the private memorial for Steve Jobs, held Sunday at Stanford Memorial Church.
But some of the names have been published. In alphabetical order:
Tim Allen, actor
Marc Andreessen, Netscape co-founder
Joan Baez, MORE
MacBooks and iMacs scored the highest marks in a survey of 79,000 tech users
"Apple once again smoked the competition," writes PC World's Jeff Bertolucci, summarizing the results of his magazine's annual service and reliability survey.
"The Macintosh and iPhone maker did so well that virtually all its scores were above average. Apple's only average scores were related to the company's deftness at replacing failed notebook components, and in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 30, 2010 7:49 AM ET
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