Recently, Apple made a big announcement of introducing “Apple Self Service Repair” for its customers. Basically, it means apple customers can have access to its authentic spare parts and can repair their own devices. But, such a decision coming from a company that values privacy, security, and accessibility, is skeptical. In this article, we will look deep into what might be the reason for this decision.
What is Self Service Repair?
Basically, it allows the customers to get Apple genuine parts and tools to repair their devices on their own. Initially, the service will be available for iPhone 12 and 13 and soon Mac books with M1 chips will be included. At first, the service includes the most common spare parts including display, battery, and camera(The list will expand next year).
What about AASPs and IRPs?
Currently, there are around 5,000 Apple Authorised Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers(IRPs) around the world who have access to spare parts and manuals. This current move won’t have a significant effect on them because on their blog they have clearly mentioned “Self Service Repair is intended for individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices”.
Still, we need to depend on AASPs and IRPs for major repairs and replacements. But is this move intended primarily for the customers to repair their devices? we will see that in the coming sections.
Iphones are popular among youngsters(18-34 yr). These age-grouped people consist of half students and half working-class people. In my view, this program is most suitable for students but it depends on how easy and affordable the parts are. Most people won’t prefer to repair their phones themselves. I mean I wouldn’t dismantle my phone(especially if it costs 1000$), even if I know to put it back, would you? But it all depends on your interest.
With all these complications and privacy risks in place, why was this decision by Apple out of the blue? The possible answer that I can come up with is the “Right to repair” movement.
Right to repair movement:
So what is the Right to repair movement? to put it simply, it is a genuine ask by the customers to the manufacturers to make spare parts and tools available to repair the product. This movement started in 2012 among automobile manufacturers and later spread to other industries.
For years this movement was opposed by top Tech companies including Microsoft, Samsung and you guessed it right, Apple. The reason for their opposition was that exposing the way to repair their product would result in security risks and might give others a way to misuse their product(like intellectual theft). So what changed?
In the month of July 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent companies from restricting customers from repairing their own products — including laptops, smartphones, cars, washing machines, and heavy manufacturing equipment. So it seems that Apple kind of executed a plan that wasn’t theirs😜.
So is it fair for tech companies to restrict their repairs and spare parts? well no. Usually, product manufacturers follow something called Planned obsolescence, which simply means products are designed to work for a limited time. In the case of phones, there were proven incidents in which old phones slow down with software updates in order to make the customers buy the new models.
Say when you change your phone to a newer model, you are literally throwing away a product and buying a new one. Electronics disposed(e-waste) at large will have a negative impact on the environment. According to Indian express, roughly 83 percent of Apple’s contribution to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere comes from mining and manufacturing materials used to make iPhones.
Apple has taken steps to reduce its negative impact on the environment, like eliminating the charger(one of the most important components, I guess) from its packaging. It’s saying like “We don’t mind if you pollute the environment with other chargers, but we don’t contribute to that”(Just kidding).
Currently, the cost of fixing an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 Pro screen is $279(You can get a mid-range phone for this price). So what will be the pricing of the spare parts under this self-service repair scheme? till the date of this post, Apple did not say anything regarding costs.
We can expect the spare part to be premium packed with premium pricing. Apple can obey the FTC or Right to repair movement but not necessarily make their parts cheaper.
Customers love when the durability of their product is high. When it comes to a product that is an integral part of your life(I cannot live without my phone, can you?) it’s no different. Apple is known for its usability and design for many decades, So if it says that you can repair the device yourself, you can repair your device yourself(With technical knowledge of course).
There might be a secret strategy behind this move after this Apple can get more control over its spare parts market and reduce duplicates. But this is definitely a win-win situation for both customers and for the company.
If you like this article, Check out my other article on What happened to WebGL?.