Apple Launches Self Repair Store…. And So Far I Am Not Impressed

Last year Apple announced that they would be starting up a self repair program. At the time I said this:

The bottom line is that this is an optics exercise for Apple. If they really wanted to embrace right to repair, they would go further than what was announced. But they haven’t. So don’t be fooled by this announcement. It isn’t what you think it is, and it’s not going to get the results that you think it will.

Since then we’ve heard nothing from Apple. Meanwhile both Samsung and Google have launched self repair programs that simply destroy anything that Apple said that they were going to do. I guess that forced Apple into the position where they had to do something. And today they did:

Apple today announced Self Service Repair is now available, providing repair manuals and genuine Apple parts and tools through the Apple Self Service Repair Store. Self Service Repair is available in the US and will expand to additional countries — beginning in Europe — later this year.

The new online store offers more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (3rd generation), such as the display, battery, and camera. Later this year the program will also include manuals, parts, and tools to perform repairs on Mac computers with Apple silicon.

I went to the Self Repair Store and to be frank, it looks like someone used a template from GoDaddy to create this as it is as far as you can get from Apple’s look and feel without going to another planet. It’s almost as if they don’t want to be associated with this website. Which tells you what you need to know about Apple’s view on self repair.

Apple also did this today:

Also today, Apple published a paper, “Expanding Access to Safe, Reliable, and Secure Service and Repair,” which details Apple’s approach to designing long-lasting products and increasing access to repairs.

This is just spin to make it look like that they are on the good side of right to repair when in reality they haven’t.

I have a bunch of random thoughts on this. For starters, It seems the cost of the repairs via this site are on par with the cost of a repair in the Apple Store – which is odd because you’re repairing it yourself. Thus you think it would be cheaper. But clearly not. I’m guessing that Apple doesn’t want to lose a cent of income here. Second, it seems odd to offer self service on the newest devices first as those are the devices less likely to need to be serviced. An iPhone XS or 11 is more likely to need a new battery than a 2 month old SE or 6 month old 13. I don’t see the logic here unless Apple is doing this to limit the number of repairs. Further to that, digging around the site I found warnings that parts such as a battery and a display require a “System Configuration Tool”. And you need to contact them after the repair to be able to remove the warnings iOS gives about the battery or display being changed. Which implies that you still need Apple’s help after the repair is completed via calling Apple or taking a trip to the Genius Bar. Which doesn’t exactly sound like you’re fully in control of the repair to me.

All of this smells of the same optics exercise that I thought it was when this was first announced. Though an alternate view is that Apple threw this together when Samsung and Google upstaged them with their announcements. Either way I’m not impressed by this launch. And I wonder if Apple will do something to improve this. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: One thing to consider is the credit that you get when you return the parts to Apple. That lowers the repair price a bit.

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