Consider it an early Christmas present from one of the companies that prided itself on being a grinch. According to Motherboard, Apple is going to allow – and help – consumers repair the Apple products they own:
[Apple] is going to sell repair parts directly to the public, something that few phone manufacturers have done over the last decade. It will also make repair guides available to the public.
“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…”
And yes, this is a very, very big deal:
“This is a huge milestone for the Right to Repair. One of the most visible opponents to repair access is reversing course, and Apple’s move shows that what repair advocates have been asking for was always possible,” Nathan Proctor, the head of USPIRG’s Right to Repair Campaign, told Motherboard in an email. “After years of industry lobbyists telling lawmakers that sharing access to parts, service tools and manuals would result in safety, security and intellectual property risks, Apple’s sudden change indicates these concerns were overblown. Right to Repair is breaking through.”
Since the inception of the iPhone, Apple has fought against consumer and independent repair. For years, Apple only allowed “authorized” repair companies to fix iPhones, which created a huge grey market for aftermarket parts and a bustling online culture for DIY repair guides that were created by staff and users on sites like iFixit. Apple has generally fought against independent repair; the company has sued repair companies that use what it has argued in court are “counterfeit” parts, has lobbied against right to repair legislation that would require Apple to do what it just announced it will voluntarily do, and has historically argued that fixing your own phone is dangerous.
Apple’s whiplash-inducing change of heart could have something to do with increased scrutiny of its anti-repair stance – in other words, the company may have moved on its own terms, before a court made it do so.
Regardless, allowing people to fix their own stuff, or get it fixed nearby for much less, is a step toward a more rational, fully-functioning market. It’s also old-fashioned good business.