Everyone has their suspicions about extended warranties right up until they need them. It does seem designed to induce some paranoia — does the company expect their item to fail within 90 days or a year? But there are instances where investing in that extra protection does pay off.
Take Apple's HomePod, the consumer electronics product of the year, according to Apple and its most ardent fans. It's a richly designed yet minimalist speaker that serves as an answer to Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. The big sell is that it "tunes itself" to cancel out unwanted noise in any room it occupies. (It also interacts with and responds to Siri.) Right now it costs $349, as you might expect for innovative new Apple hardware.
The website HotHardware.com dug into the repair costs of the HomePod, and what it found was almost absurd. If your speaker breaks or malfunctions within a year of purchase, the Apple warranty will kick in, but outside of a year, you're on the hook for more than $300 of repair work. Breaking it down, the repair itself is $279, with a $19.95 shipping fee, plus whatever tax you'll owe within your state. AppleCare offers two years of protection for up to two separate accidents or meltdowns, all for just $39 plus tax.
Part of what may feel frustrating is that Apple is the sole arbiter of its product. One complaint in early reviews is how firmly the HomePod locks consumers into an Apple-only tech ecosystem, and these repair guidelines follow the same formula. Apple has also come under fire for its iPhone throttling scandal, though that was not, as critics believe, about planned obsolescence.
So, it might feel suspicious on the surface, but if you have a boisterous dog or a cat that likes to knock glasses of water off tables, a bull-in-a-china-shop best friend, or simply a healthy certainty in Murphy's Law, still consider the extended warranty. If it's worth it to you, at least you go in with eyes open.