Apple to supply parts to independent repair shops

Some interesting news from Apple, who appear to have taken something of a u-turn and are now promising to offer genuine parts to independent repair shops:

At first glance, this seems like good news, but I imagine the devil is in the detail here.
What’s everyone’s take on this?

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We still don’t know all the details, but here are my initial thoughts:

  • let’s not confuse this with real Right to repair, as Apple fully controls the process of vetting who gets access to the programme
  • community repair initiatives and DIY repairs are completely excluded
  • there will be limitations to the kind of parts that will be supplied, and limitations to the other repairs that repairers can/can’t do outside of the programme

This said, we need to hear from professional repairers to get their perspective!

It’s a small step. With lots and lots of caveats. A cynic might say this could just be a means to use up stock and production runs as their phone sales fall. What will be important is under what conditions and to whom they make spares and information, plus any licences and software available (as in locked batteries)? I’d like to hope they may have realised … , but it could just be bit of a drip feed to get legislators and politicians off their backs. As you say - the devil is in the devisal.

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iFixit have some good analysis on their site.

Some of their key points:
On the plus side…

  • :heavy_plus_sign: Supplying parts to independent repair shops (including sole-proprietor businesses) is a big step in the right direction.
  • :heavy_plus_sign: Making diagnostic tools, training and manuals available should expand the types of repairs that independent repair shops can perform.
  • :heavy_plus_sign: Apple seems to be undermining some of its own anti-right to repair arguments (e.g. around safety & security).

But at the same time…

  • :heavy_minus_sign: If the pricing of parts is the same as the pilot programme, the cost may make some repairs impractical (e.g. screen replacements).
  • :heavy_minus_sign: It’s not yet clear exactly which parts Apple is including in this scheme. If it’s like the pilot programme, only common iPhone repairs will be covered.
  • :heavy_minus_sign: There are questions around who can qualify for Apple’s obligatory, free training in order to access parts; Apple retains control and “reserves the right to reject any application without comment.
  • :heavy_minus_sign: This programme stops well short of allowing consumers or community repair groups access to parts.

As people involved in repair businesses, have you been following this story @Bilal, @Junaid and @Ash?

its a great news to repair shops like us.!!!

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Indeed, but curious about when a global roll-out might occur. The Apple announcement only applies to the US, although the research they allude to is global…

… and it only covers iPhones, nothing else.

Apple received a lot of visibility with this story. While any step offering more access to repair options is to an extent positive, there’s not so much to celebrate. I’m adding a few points in addition to the valid points you’ve all made.

  • the programme only applies to iPhone screens and batteries, just as with Apple Authorised repairers. In a way, it’s nothing new, given that independent repairers have for years been able to get Samsung genuine replacement screens (for example)

  • it seems that Apple wouldn’t prevent independent repairers from engaging in other repairs, using third party spare parts, as hinted in the Reuters piece (differently from what happens with Authorised repairers)

  • however this leaves a lot of doubts, particularly given Apple’s current approach, sueing people such as Norwegian repairer Henrik Huseby for using “counterfeit” parts. Is this likely to happen frequently under this new strategy on repair? Will businesses be removed from the programme if Apple isn’t happy with the range of other repairs performed?

  • one interesting twist is that until very recently Apple claimed that screen replacement required calibration done with expensive machines. Clearly this wasn’t true: as part of the programme, Apple is now providing screens for the very same models of iPhones which previously would have required calibration…

  • more in general, this big PR success doesn’t address the main flaw with Apple’s approach to iPhone repairs: any repair other than screen and battery is not officially supported, not even at Apple Stores! Which means that if a camera, speaker or button stops working, Apple doesn’t offer an official solution or parts - it asks customers to pay up to half of the cost of a brand new device,which is…ridiculous. That’s nothing to do with the Right to repair we’re after!

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Following up on this story, it looks like Apple asks independent repair businesses who want these spare parts to sign a pretty extreme contract:

In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, which are intended, at least in part, to search for and identify the use of “prohibited” repair parts, which Apple can impose fines for. If they leave the program, Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program. Apple also requires repair shops in the program to share information about their customers at Apple’s request, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.

Vice has the full story:

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Hi everyone,

Apple has announced the roll-out of the same programme to the whole of Europe, as well as Canada and a few more countries. However, they haven’t made it clear whether they’re improving the conditions. Here is what we wrote about it as part of the European Right to Repair Campaign, asking Apple to give clear answers to some key concerns:

  • Has Apple changed the contract reflecting previous criticism by US businesses and Right to Repair campaigners?
  • What is the range and the pricing parts made available to participating businesses?
  • Will participating businesses be allowed to use refurbished parts not supplied by Apple?

Here is the full blog post:

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MY local repair shops is trying to become Apple accredited, so I’ll get some insight. The application process was described to me as ‘very bureaucratic’. They are still waiting to hear … Apple appear to demand you not only buy parts from them, but only use Apple tools (!!). If I find out more I’ll let you know.

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Reuters is reporting that Apple will now also include Macs, not only iPhones:

I suppose this is a baby step in the right direction. But given it doesn’t sound like Apple have changed the onerous contract required to join to this programme or answered the other questions posed by the European Right to Repair campaign that Ugo mentioned above, this seems a bit of a ‘meh’ announcement. :man_shrugging:

Apple has expanded its “Independent Repair Provider Program” but it doesn’t go far enough. I got excited when I read Apple’s post today that their program would be expanding and allowing

…repair providers access to genuine parts, tools, repair manuals, and diagnostics for out-of-warranty repairs

and

All participating repair providers in the program have access to free training from Apple and the same genuine parts, tools, repair manuals, and diagnostics as Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and Apple Store locations.

Unfortunately its only open to repair providers who

… are required to be an established business, with business verification documents available for review by Apple.

and have

… commercial walk-in service location in an easily accessible location. A residential address is not acceptable as a service location.

So although this allows for more people to get their Apple devices repaired it doesn’t help the consumer (or groups like the Restart Project) get access to the tools, parts and information necessary to repair devices themselves :slightly_frowning_face:

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AFAIK this expansion was mostly geographic, expanding the existing program to numerous countries including Australia. (They have cleverly timed this, because there is a consumer rights inquiry into their practices in Australia right now.)

All of the criticisms by the European Right to Repair campaign, linked above, still apply to this.