Brewer computer technician branches out into iProducts

By David M. Fitzpatrick, Of the Weekly Staff
Posted April 25, 2012, at 11:21 a.m.

As reliable and expensive as an iPhone is, there’s a one in three chance that, within two years of purchase, you’ll need to repair it.

So what do you do when your iPhone smashes on the concrete or splashes into the pool?

Until recently, you’d have headed for the Apple Store in Portland. But thanks to startup company iCracked, which repairs damaged iPhones, iPods, and iPads, it just got a lot easier — and cheaper. In Maine, there’s only one authorized iTech: Chris Downs, owner of Chris Downs Computer Room in Brewer.

It all began when a friend asked Downs if he could fix her broken iPod Nano. After researching, locating parts, and fixing it, he posted about it on Facebook. Within 15 minutes, three people asked if he could fix their iPhones and iPod Touches. “I thought, ‘Wow, there’s something going on here,’” he said.

He discovered iCracked and began researching it. “I don’t jump in fast to anything, and I don’t want to be with a fly-by-night company,” Downs said.

There’s plenty of call for iCracked. A study by independent warranty company SquareTrade found that while the iPhone rated highest for reliability, a third of them fail within two years, usually from drops: falling from pockets, vibrating right off the counter, or landing in water. And, according to iCracked, warranties cover normal failure; if you smash or submerge your iPhone, you’re looking at about $200 to replace it with a refurbished unit.

“I do the repair for $100 for iPhone 4 screen replacement, and I do it the same day,” Downs said. You get your own phone back, not a refurb, and with a 99-year warranty. iPhone models run between $60 and $110 for screen replacement, so the savings are always dramatic.

For water damage, Down says to get it to him immediately — preferably tossed in a bag of raw white rice first to absorb moisture. According to iCracked, 75 to 80 percent of water-damaged phones are salvaged with its methods.

Downs isn’t new to tech jobs. He worked at the Bangor Daily News for 28 years, 26 of them in the Computer Services department, before leaving in 2011 to start his computer-service business. With his kids grown and his bills light these days, it was the right time to start the business. The iCracked angle is just another way to help people, which he says is why he does it.

For example, he helped one couple who’d lost a hard drive by recovering irreplaceable pictures of their kids playing basketball and of their son graduating from Parris Island.

“That meant so much to them,” he said. “If I can pay my bills and help people out, honestly, that’s going to be awesome.”

Downs had already done many iPhone and iPod repairs before connecting with iCracked. Now, just a month later, he’s done many iCracked repairs.

“Right now, people would otherwise have to go to Portland to the Apple Store for repairs,” he said. “I’m excited. I think this will really take off.”

Downs will also service other smartphones and tablets, such as Android-based devices, although iCracked doesn’t support them yet (but iCracked reports it will be moving into other devices), so there may be a parts wait.

Paul Iliya, iCracked’s public relations director, said that Downs fits the model of what the company likes in its iTechs.

“He is older, experienced, professional, and is already a small-business owner himself, looking to complement his computer-repair business with an iOS repair business, which is what we’ve comprehensively provided,” Iliya said.

The company began with a “college model,” finding tech-savvy students interested in earning a few extra bucks, but has moved away from that in favor of established professionals like Downs.

“Chris has taken full advantage of our marketing and PR teams and is using it to his advantage and finding great, early-on success, which we love to see,” Iliya said.

If you’ve already replaced a broken unit, Downs might also purchase your iPhone or iPad with a broken screen. Visit him at www.CDComputerRoom.com, or learn about iCracked at www.iCracked.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/25/the-weekly/brewer-computer-technician-branches-out-into-iproducts/ printed on July 22, 2014