"Which gets punished. But not what we are talking about unless you think so many businesses are running such?"
I was going to comment on other things in your post, but I decided that this morsel is the most illuminating. Oligopolies naturally form cartel-like behaviours without formally being a cartel. I guess you didn't do A-level economics (as you stated) because even there one finds out about non-price competition in duopolies.
It's a basic fact of the last thirty years or so that there is increasing consolidation in more or less every sector of corporate life, particulary in the US. With this consolidation comes much greater profits, and those come from the consumer, eventually. US companies are significantly more profitable than their European counterparts, and it's believed that consolidation is the reason for most of this variation. Large companies merge because they predict the ability to raise prices, reduce service quality, and therefore increase profits.
Apple makes a battery that cannot be swapped. But now so do almost every other manufacturer. Unless you want a Fairphone, you cannot get a user-repairable phone. Since Fairphone produce such a thing, it is clearly possible. But other manufacturers do not produce them. I, personally, have a list of things I want from my phone and the Fairphone doesn't fit them, so I cannot have one, but I would prefer a phone with their repairability, with other features. Such a phone is not available to me, so I cannot express my preference and purchase one.
Revealed preferences only work if there are the following features to the market:
1) Perfect information. Manufacturers hide significant amounts of information about their product. You cannot find out estimated failure rates of components of a new car, for example, because manufacturers do not provide them.
2) Low or zero barriers to entry. This is necessary because unsatisfied demand, say for a repairable phone, would be satisfied by a new entrant into the market, thus forcing current manufacturers to adapt to the demands of the market. Of course, unless you have a spare few billion you cannot set up your own phone manufacturer, so this one's difficult as well.
Of these, 2) is much more important than 1). With high barriers to entry, either natural (complex machinery) or artifical (advertising, regulation, restricted supply), the preferences of consumers can be subverted by manufacturers who can simply refuse to provide what the customer wants.
As a case study, consider gyms. Nobody wants a 12-month rolling contract. But that's what you get because fuck you. So PureGym was set up to take advantage of this untapped demand. The trouble is, PureGym cannot expend very easily, because barriers to entry are high: you have to buiild a lot of gyms. It took a long time for this competitor to become established, because the barriers to entry in this market are pretty high. PureGym, which gives customers what they want, is now the largest gym chain in the UK.
But ten years ago, your argument would have been that people really want 12-month contracts because look, that's what people are buying.