Self-service Retail: How Apple is Changing the Game

It ends up that Apple’s most important announcement in 2019 wasn’t the iPhone 13 or the new supercharged MacBook Pro line. It was that, somewhere down the road, Apple would let you fix your own iPhone if you had the courage.

That’s correct – rather than taking a phone with a broken screen or a flat battery to an expensive “Apple Official Service Provider” or shady kiosk, if you have technical skills, Apple will enable you to access the same parts, tools, and instruction manuals used by specialists to repair ITEMS for YOURSELF.

What exactly does it all signify? And why has Apple chosen to do so? Continue reading to learn more.

What’s going on with Self-Service Repair?

Beginning in 2020, the “Self-Service Repair” initiative will begin with assistance for the iPhone 12 and 13 series and allow us to purchase the same tools and components that Apple uses to repair certain common issues such as cracked displays, batteries, and cameras.

The new shop will apparently feature over 200 of the most frequent tools and components used to repair iPhones, according to Apple.

The ambition is to expand the program “later next year” to cover additional common repairs – as well as extend it to cover other Apple products, such as M1-powered MacBooks.

This isn’t to imply that performing repairs on your phone will be simple. You’ll still want technical expertise, and Apple still recommends using a professional repair shop for non-experts.

Finally, the self-service program will initially only be accessible in the US; Apple claims it will expand across the world by 2022.

Why is it such a jaw-dropper that we’re going to offer self-service repair?

The news of the self-service repair program is shocking because it appears to go against everything Apple has done up until now.

For years, people who like to tinker with their technology have complained that Apple machines are overly locked down and difficult to repair. These allegations aren’t without basis.

Because Apple has chosen to construct more of its devices as fully integrated lumps of silicon, metal, and plastic rather than optimizing them to enable the installation of individual components, subsequent versions of devices have become increasingly difficult to repair.

The most recent MacBook Pros are marginally more repairable; nevertheless, we still believe they fall behind the curve.

It isn’t just a question of aesthetics, either. Apple has also lobbied governments all over the world against adopting legislation that would require them to make electronics easier to repair.

According to a January 2019 report, Apple has traveled around several dozen American states in an attempt to prevent legislators from passing repair-friendly laws.

Instead, Apple has maintained that repairs should be done by certified dealers who pay money to the company for official components and professional repair instructions.

The company’s argument was that unauthorised repairs can result in damaged or dangerous devices, but these limitations also make it more difficult and expensive to have an Apple device fixed.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has a long history of dominating the market with its iOS products.

This dominance has resulted in many customers complaining about Apple’s attempts to control its competition. One particularly infamous example of Apple’s control-freakery is the notorious “Error 53” error that afflicted iPhones with fingerprint sensors.

If you broke your screen and had it replaced by an unauthorized Apple service provider, your TouchID would cease to function.

Why the turnaround?

Apple appears to be scared and has jumped before it was pushed. For a long time, the business has been under pressure.

It is also a public relations problem because making devices difficult to repair runs counter to all of Apple’s sustainability goals, which aim to have a completely carbon-neutral supply chain by 2030.

Another reason that Apple may have taken it seriously is that even stockholders are up in arms over the problem. One shareholder, the Green Century Index Fund, even filed a shareholder proposal, demanding that Tim Cook make repairing easier.

However, Apple is also facing serious headwinds more generally as regulators around the world push for a right to repair.

In the United States, for example, President Biden named Lina Khan to head up the Federal Trade Commission, a known opponent of big tech’s power.

She has formally committed the agency to take on “right to repair” difficulties with “vigor.” The EU has also been active in pursuing the right to repair across Europe.

New legislation went into effect throughout Europe (including Britain as it had not departed the EU when it was enacted) this past spring, requiring manufacturers to give out spare parts and instructional manuals upon request.

The European law currently only applies to white goods like washing machines and boilers, but the expectation is that it will eventually be expanded to cover other technology devices, such as mobile phones and computers.

The tide is clearly turning in Apple’s favor when it comes to repairs. Regulators in the United States, Europe, and across the world have a long list of issues with Apple’s conduct.

For example, Apple’s practice of taking 30% off the top of every transaction in the App Store – a function that is much more important to the company’s bottom line than repairs. So, maybe this is a situation where Apple is attempting to choose its fights correctly.

What will I notice? What effect will it have on me?

The new repair program is unlikely to have a significant impact on most of us. If your phone stops working, the simplest thing to do is make an appointment with the Genius Bar.

However, if no appointments are available for a week or two and you really need a functional phone, then maybe you should consider something new.