Every new piece of technology has a few bugs. The iPhone 6, when it comes out, will be no different. Apple has a stake in every step of its distribution chain, right up to the retail store. So when customers start returning faulty iPhone 6s, they'll set off a complex chain of forensic troubleshooters.

BloombergBusinessweek takes a deep look inside Apple's first-responder system, a network that begins at the Apple store's Genius Bar and ends at the engineering department at the company's Cupertino headquarters. The Early Field Failure Analysis program, or EFFA, began in the 1990s, becoming a triage system for broken iDevices.

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Especially in the first few weeks after the iPhone 6 launches, EFFA will be a frenzied chain-of-command. Faulty phones will be checked in at Genius Bars across the world. They'll be scanned into Apple's system by serial number, then rush-shipped to Cupertino for a post-mortem.

As Businessweek puts it, "it's about as fun as it sounds. The idea is to keep easily resolved problems from becoming punch lines for late-night comics. Often, they jury-rig a hardware fix, then coordinate a solution across Apple's global supply chain."

The program has had plenty of work over Apple's recent past. From faulty touchscreens and broken speakers on the original iPhone, to a panicked re-jiggering of the iPhone 4's antenna, EFFA has the un-enviable task of rushing out a solution to problems that weren't caught in pre-release testing.

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Head on over to Businessweek for the full story—including comments from former EFFA workers. In the frenzied run-up to the iPhone 6 unveiling on Tuesday, it's helpful to remember that not all that glitters in a champagne case is gold. [BloombergBusinessweek]

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