No, Tim Cook wasn’t lying when talking about replacement batteries, because he never talked about replacing batteries as a profit generator. He mentioned it in terms of “other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance” since many people (maybe more than a million?) replaced their batteries instead of getting new iPhones. He didn’t say that Apple would miss their earnings projection because they weren’t making as much on battery replacements as they expected. Besides, Apple’s total revenue in 2017 was roughly $229 billion. How much of that do you think came from repairs? If it was $1 billion, I’d be very surprised, and it would only make up .4% of revenue — a rounding error.
Having expensive, complex components doesn’t mean your product is poorly designed, especially if you make custom hardware to run your custom software instead of assembling it from off-the-shelf components to run an OS anyone can license. To guarantee the quality of your customers’ experience as much as possible, it makes sense to authorize who repairs your products and make sure they used authorized parts. The right-to-repair argument is a worthy one, but it doesn’t mean that a product that is so custom and complex that it is difficult to repair, especially inexpensively, doesn’t mean that it’s because the designers are malevolent or stupid. If Apple is only making their products complex and difficult to repair for no other reason than to make money — not to achieve a design, performance, or user experience goal — I’d assume there’d be some evidence in the form of leaked communications or whistleblowers coming forward to reveal this. It would be quite a scoop.
When Apple ditched the 30-pin connector for the iPhone, there were howls and protests that this was solely a money grab by Apple to force people to upgrade their cables, and that there was no good reason for the change. Apple said that Lightning allowed slimmer hardware, was more durable, and was a better user experience since it was reversible. Turns out they were right. And now, if Apple were to change iPhones to USB-C, there’d be the same howls and protests, despite the fact that USB-C is an open format. People don’t like change and, more often than not, will fight it.
Also, if Apple isn’t good at design, yet so many other electronics companies copy them, then I guess no one has good design.
Sure, you could use Skype or Whatsapp for messaging. Then you just need to convince all of your iPhone-using family and friends to use them, since most are probably happy using iMessage and FaceTime and it’s also what a lot of their friends and family are using. Comfort affects functionality. You can have a great free messaging app, but if no one you know uses it because it isn’t what they’re comfortable with, it isn’t functional, no matter how cheap or well-designed it is. You can make any logic-based arguments you want, but that won’t change human nature and people’s desire for comfort and familiarity, as well as their aversion to change.
You should check out this post of mine, which is actually the most popular thing I’ve written on Medium: “AirPods and the Three Stages of Apple Criticism”