Apple, having long stood in the way of customers who want to fix their own devices, now says it wants to help those who feel they have the right to repair their own products.
On Wednesday the iBiz announced Self Service Repair, “which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools.”
This may be something of a mixed blessing as Apple hardware is notoriously difficult to mend, due to the fact that special tools are often required, parts may be glued together, and components like Apple’s TouchID sensor and T2 security chip can complicate getting devices to work again once reassembled.
Kyle Wiens, CEO of DIY repair community iFixit, told The Register in an email that Apple’s reputation for making difficult to repair products is deserved, particularly for things like AirPods, Apple Pencil, and their keyboards which iFixit has rated 0 out of 10 for repairability.
“Some products that get a 1 are fixable, but it’s really really hard,” said Wiens. “And some like the new MacBook Pro get a 4. Not great but certainly fixable.”
Initially, Apple will provide more than 200 parts and tools for those determined to conduct common iPhone repairs, such as replacing the display screen, battery, and camera. The program will focus first on iPhone 12 and 13 devices, and will expand later to include M1-based Macs.
Starting early next year, DIY-inclined customers in the US will be able to order Apple-approved parts and tools from the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store – at Apple prices – instead of scouring eBay, Alibaba, and various grey market tool and parts sources. The program is expected to expand internationally at a later date.
A victory for the right to repair
Apple’s about-face follows years of lobbying, advocacy, and regulatory pressure by those who support the right to repair purchased products. Previously, the company said such fiddling represented a security risk. In 2017, the iGiant argued that a right to repair bill under consideration in Nebraska would make the state a Mecca for hackers if it passed.
“This is the clear result of tireless advocacy from the repair community and policy proposals on three continents,” said Wiens. “Right to repair investigations at the FTC and the Australian Productivity Commission are ongoing.
“Consumers deserve the right to repair their own products. Repair manuals should not be secret. We’ve been saying this for a long time, and it’s great to see that Apple finally agrees. We still need to pass legislation and guarantee a level playing field for the entire industry. Apple’s announcement shows that it’s possible to do the right thing. Hopefully Samsung will be next.”