You’d think that competing directly with Apple for its own customers would be a losing game, but iCracked‘s iOS repair service continues to grow as Apple approaches 1 billion mobile devices sold — a threshold the company could pass this quarter.
In a phone interview last week, iCracked founder and CEO AJ Forsythe told TechCrunch that his company has brought in 280 more full- and part-time “iTechs” to its roster (bringing the total to 1,000) in the last two months, a big jump from the regular 60-80 per month it was recruiting earlier this year. Forsythe claims that the jump is the result of the company hitting its stride after three years of building out its support infrastructure and training systems for new technicians, which include approximately 22 hours of training, free tools and parts to do repair work, insurance for devices repaired, and an Uber-like routing system that lets iTechs find, set up and complete repair jobs in less than an hour.
He also says that he expects that growth to continue, as 40 percent of requests that come in via the app come from areas where iCracked doesn’t yet have technicians available. In part, iCracked is benefitting from the fact that it’s easier to scale out individual technicians that only do repairs than it is to roll out an Apple Store that needs real estate, inventory and a full staff of employees.
While iCracked also offers repair (and reselling) services for Android devices, the realities of market fragmentation and the constant flow of new models from OEMs result in the startup only looking at roughly the top 10 percent of Android devices by sales. While that’s still a large market, it translate into only 20 percent of iCracked’s repair and reselling business.
So far this year, Forsythe says those iTechs have earned (after iCracked’s cut) $6 million. As with other services in the so-called “sharing economy,” he notes that incomes are skewed towards those who spend significantly more time doing repairs, with some technicians bringing in six-figure incomes. But as with Lyft drivers who only work weekends, many iTechs only make themselves available for jobs when they need some extra cash.
For most repairs, Forsythe says its techs make approximately $25 per hour, with that number going up in regions with higher demand. To make sure that those areas are always being serviced, iCracked actually hires some technicians full-time, a solution that its cousins in the sharing economy may also have to adopt to prevent service providers from simply jumping between competing apps.