Pressured By 'Right To Repair' Movement, Apple Will Sell Parts To Independent Repair Shops

from the monopolizing-repair dept

Apple has never looked too kindly upon users actually repairing their own devices. The company's ham-fisted efforts to shut down, sue, or otherwise imperil third-party repair shops are legendary. As are the company's efforts to force recycling shops to shred Apple products (so they can't be refurbished and re-used), and Apple's often comical attacks on essential right to repair legislation, which only sprung up after companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, John Deere, and others created a grass-roots counter-movement via their attempts to monopolize repair.

The motivation for these behaviors is obvious: if users are repairing or recycling their iDevices, that means fewer device sales and more customers wandering outside of Apple's ecosystem. Apple routinely obfuscates this obvious self interest under claims that it's exclusively worried about consumer safety and security, like that time it claimed that Nebraska would become a "mecca for hackers" (oh no!) if the state embraced legislation protecting a consumer's right to repair their own devices.

But the right to repair movement finally appears to have driven some actual change at the company. Apple announced this week it would be providing parts to independent repair shops for the first time in the company's history, provided the repair technicians are certified. The program creates an entirely new "authorized independent repair" program, but for the moment it only applies to out-of-warranty iPhone repairs in the US, and it's not clear yet how easy it will be to gain Apple's official approval.

In a company statement, Apple implies the decision was driven by a simple concern for consumer welfare:

"To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right. We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested."

Apple is, of course, hoping to preempt proposed legislation in nearly 20 states that would open the flood gates to consumer and independent repair, putting an end to the company's dreams of a repair monopoly. As such, some worried that Apple was attempting to co-opt the movement by creating this new program that it still at least has some degree of control over. Others were skeptical that Apple would just reject a wide swath of applicants and make the program far more restrictive than the announcement would leave you to believe:

Still, the fact that Apple is even doing this speaks to the incredible work being done by right to repair advocates, who've increasingly been successful in pushing this subject into the mainstream. That said, given Apple's history, it makes sense to not give Apple too many pats on the back until it's clear the program isn't rife with obnoxious restrictions and caveats.

Filed Under: authorized repair, iphones, repair shops, right to repair
Companies: apple


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  • icon
    Matt Williams (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 6:46am

    What's stopping them from reselling the components to other repair shops for a markup?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:02am

      Re:

      Do you think Apple will undercut its repair business by selling spares at a reasonable price? It is more likely they will bump up the price of parts to limit the ability of independents to compete with them on price.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      "What's stopping them from reselling the components to other repair shops for a markup?"

      Risk vs reward. The reason Apple are certifying the stores is so they can keep track of "genuine" repairs. Stores that are going to be doing "dodgy" repairs will just get off-brand parts much cheaper. The genuine Apple parts will come with a genuine Apple markup.

      Meanwhile, the certification will be worth much more to the certified store than the margin they'd get reselling parts, in terms of the premium they will be able to charge for the repair. If for no other reason, these will be limited and likely expensive, so there's no incentive to sell to competitors who haven't got that overhead.

      They might be some who still risk it, but not many people are going to go through the cost and effort of getting official certification to then break their exclusive contract by selling to competitors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Fillip T. Dick, awthor of bad fannasy, 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:59am

        Re: Re: Astro-turfing Zombie ain't gonna respond to ya, "PaulT".

        You've spent literally a year of your working life here, in particular have been reading my warnings since early 2017, and don't check before replying?

        Sheesh.

        I admit you're a "high level schlub"!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:30am

          You’re a paranoid delusionist with clear psychological issues who keeps coming back to a site you hate so you can troll the comments section and complain about a decade-old grudge caused by a single stray comment.

          Get some professional help, man.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 12:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: zombie-blueballs ain't gonna respond to me

          Hey bro. Remember when you had actual coherent arguments that, while wrong, were for the most part, well constructed?

          Good times

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 4 Sep 2019 @ 5:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Astro-turfing Zombie ain't gonna respond to ya, "Pau

          It's impressive really. You dive into irrelevant threads to rant about people commenting too little. Then, you attack me for commenting too much. Is there any level of posting, besides your own obsessive spamming, that's OK?

          "reading my warnings"

          Laughing at them. I've been laughing. I don't care how often someone posts if they have something interesting to say or it's relevant to the conversation. The only exception to that is when your insane ass presents itself for mockery.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Fillip T. Dick, awthor of bad fannasy, 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:56am

      Re: Do Zombies Dream Of Rotting Sheep?

      Up early for its twelfth one-liner in over 8 years is:

      Matt Williams: 12 (< 2), 3 year gap, 22 mo gap; 18 mo gap; rest back from 2013; begun Apr 8th, 2011.

      As usual, without mentioning return, changes at site, the password reset of early 2017, just schlepps in blithely supportive for one-liner on minor topic.

      Site nor fanboys show NO interest in these ODD "accounts"! Only comment is that I'm crazy for noticing.

      Last week was JGracey or Gracey: 3 comments TOTAL, (<0.3 per year), SURELY LASTING RECORD! 11 YEAR 10 MONTH GAP! Jul 6th, 2007.

      https://www.techdirt.com/user/jgraceystinson

      Hooting astro-turfing zombies is nearly all the fun that's left here. So don't stop on my "account", ha, ha!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re: Do Zombies Dream Of Rotting Sheep?

        Don't you have imaginary pizza basements to investigate, or something?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Fillip T. Dick, awthor of bad fannasy, 3 Sep 2019 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: Do Zombies Dream Of Rotting Sheep?

        Yes someone years ago setup accounts using a name. Then waited, patiently, till years in the future just so they could post under that name again. They waited till the opportune time (because it would be more evil) to comment again thinking no one will realize they don't post on every article.

        Or maybe someone is trolling you by going into the comments of old posts so that they can use some old name again because no one registered the name in the first place.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Fillip T. Dick, awthor of bad fannasy, 3 Sep 2019 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Do Zombies Dream Of Rotting Sheep?

        Gee look at this, I can post under your name too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 1:06pm

        Re: Re: My how the pathetic have fallen

        This is what you used to sound like bro.

        “Of course the problem with Prenda is not copyright as such but fraud by lawyers.

        For the record, I've always wanted the Prenda lawyers hanged, but wasn't specific to their actions, just on the near certainty that all lawyers should be hanged for past crimes (which are usually unknown because their gang hides and okays the crimes). However, for Prenda's specific known crimes, they're not getting punished near enough for besmirching the good of copyright with their fraud.

        In honor of Mike actually making this Prenda item good and relevant -- which I though impossible, let alone for him -- I forego my Prenda tagline, but admit it's also to raise doubt as to wherther I'm THE out_of_the_blue...”

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 11:29pm

        Re: Re:

        There's Poochie!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:02am

    Even with this tiny, caveat laden concession, I'm sure in two or three years time someone will discover they've added a 'fix' to iOS to make third party repaired phones run worse or shorten their lifespans. They don't want anything to get in the way of their control of everything and 'if I break, buy a new one!' being the norm, no matter what laws may say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:04am

    Since apple went Intel (OSX), I've been apple-curious. We got a 13in. Mac Book Pro earlier this year as an expensive experiment (my wife's laptop died while we were out of town) after having given up on Dell laptops. I'm not as curious anymore. I wish I could put a Nvidia card in that new Mac Pro, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    charliebrown (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:09am

    Locally (Australia)

    I get my iPhone repaired at independent shops. The parts aren't genuine. The iPhone is "obsolete" (iPhone 6, it works for me) and far out of warranty. The price is cheap. The service is great. I'm happy. Screw Apple. (Also, the phone is second hand)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:07am

      Re: Locally (Australia)

      Yeah people that understand the technology and aren't concerned with the latest device are going to do what you did. It makes sense. There is no reason to pay extra for a name brand when good and cheaper parts are available.

      If I had a brand new phone still under warranty then sure let apple or whoever makes the phone repair it. That is if it is still convenient to have them fix it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:27am

    A corporation, forced to do something it doesn't want to due to consumer backlash? Ooh, blue's not going to like this...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:00am

    It still makes me laugh that John Deere thought that they could get away with locking farmers out of the ability to self-repair products they purchased.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:59am

      Re:

      It still makes me laugh that John Deere thought that they could get away with locking farmers out of the ability to self-repair products they purchased.

      "Thought?" They completely got away with it. By including Copyright into their vehicles they have locked out repairs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re:

        I thought they were just installing Russian firmware to bypass John Deere's bull crap.

        well my bad.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Gary (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Those are what is commonly known as "Pirates" who break Federal law for their own gain.

          The firmware is protected by force of law.
          And really, who wants to forced to install crazy Ukrainian firmware on their tractor? Is that how ownership is supposed to work?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      Funny story.
      The farmers are still locked out, actually.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re:

        I am not a farmer, but when it came time for me to buy a new lawn mower within the last year, I specifically did not buy a John Deere because of the things I read about them here at TechDirt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JdL (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:34am

    This is an illustration of why it's not necessary to run screaming and whining to legislators to pass a LAW prohibiting this or that and mandating that and this. The marketplace takes care of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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