Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.
The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.
Brian Heater, TechCrunch:
Apple hasn’t listed specific prices yet, but customers will get a credit toward the final fee if they mail in the damaged component for recycling. When it launches in the U.S. in early-2022, the store will offer some 200 parts and tools to consumers. Performing these tasks at home won’t void the device’s warranty, though you might if you manage to further damage the product in the process of repairing it — so hew closely to those manuals. After reviewing that, you can purchase parts from the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store.
And you thought Apple could no longer surprise? This makes sense in the context of right-to-repair bills progressing in the U.S. and around the world. Apple has been lobbying against that legislation, often with ludicrous arguments that look especially funny in light of today’s news.
There seem to be a handful of caveats. Most notably, the program is launching only for very recent iPhones in the U.S., and then gradually rolling out to more countries and offering repairs for M1 Macs. This program will not help me replace the battery in my partner’s iPhone X when it is needed. Support for other products currently sold, like Intel Macs and iPads, also has not been announced. I have little hope future Apple Watch and AirPods models will become repairable, but they should be.
While I am cautiously optimistic about this new program, it does not resolve the rationale for oversight. Apple still controls the parts and repair channels, which means it can stop offering this at any time. As welcoming as I think this new direction seems to be, regulations can and should be used to set expectations. We should not be having this same discussion five or ten or twenty years from now.
Update: Maddie Stone, the Verge:
But Apple didn’t change its policy out of the goodness of its heart. The announcement follows months of growing pressure from repair activists and regulators — and its timing seems deliberate, considering a shareholder resolution environmental advocates filed with the company in September asking Apple to re-evaluate its stance on independent repair. Wednesday is a key deadline in the fight over the resolution, with advocates poised to bring the issue to the Securities and Exchange Commission to resolve.
This at least explains the timing.