On Wednesday, Apple announced that users will now be able to fix their own products. The news represents a shift in Apple’s repair standards as well as a significant step forward for the right-to-repair movement. At the same time, the new scheme demonstrates Apple’s continued desire for self-service repairs to take place on its terms.
The iPhone maker’s new strategy is easy. Apple will soon make repair manuals for specific devices public, and consumers will be able to acquire the equipment and components they need to conduct those repairs from a new section of Apple’s website after examining them. Apple will sell over 200 different components or tools for repairing its iPhone 12 and 13 models at the start of the program. Apple claims that Mac machines with M1 CPUs will soon be included in the program.
Apple’s announcement on Wednesday marks a significant departure for the company. Previously, Apple exclusively provided repair tools and replacement components to its 5,000 Apple-authorized service providers and additional 2,800 stores which work independently.
For this restriction, as well as its practice of building hardware that can’t be easily upgraded or embedding certain components that only Apple has access to, Apple has long been chastised by right-to-repair campaigners who want manufacturers to allow users the opportunity to repair their own gadgets.
In recent years, dozens of states have adopted right-to-repair legislation, which Apple has opposed. For example, in 2019, the business successfully persuaded California lawmakers that accidentally damaging the lithium-ion batteries in iPhones while attempting to fix them could cause a fire. Non-authorized repairs, according to Apple, might jeopardize the security and privacy of its devices.
This right-to-repair movement has lately gained backing in the White House, despite Apple’s best efforts. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in July directing the Federal Trade Commission to adopt new right-to-repair standards, among other things. After an inquiry revealed several techniques used by technology companies to make items tougher to fix, the agency announced later that month that it would step up enforcement against “illegal” repair restrictions. The Verge first uncovered the connection between Apple’s decision and a critical date tied to a right-to-repair resolution submitted by activist Apple shareholders back in September.