back to article Apple expands third-party repairer program, mostly in Asia

Apple has announced an expansion of its Independent Repair Provider program, the scheme that provides authorised third-party companies to repair out-of-warranty iThings. The manufacturer of $699 wheels , plus assorted computing devices, kicked off the scheme in the USA in 2019 and expanded it to Canada and the EU in mid-2020 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
  2. cookieMonster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Slashdot

    Is that way —->

  3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    The cynical view

    This is being put into countries where Apple only really have a presence in the big cities. By making it possible to get devices fixed by third parties, they're trying to extend their customer base into areas where they don't want to operate their own repair services.

    Bearing in mind how much publicity Apple devices are getting for repair difficulties and design defects, if they did''t to do this, they would have much less success in selling in those backwaters.

    But the Apple's repair programs are really just another lock-in. They are partly there to make sure that fixable devices are actually replaced rather than repaired, as Apple still controls the parts availability, and the repairs that these places are allowed to do while remaining in the program. They do this by a combination of parts supply control and certification, meaning that they can strip anybody of these things if they work outside of Apple's boundaries.

    To be truly fair, Apple really need to have a parts supply and maybe schematics at reasonable cost to all repairers without strings attached, and this is just not likely to happen.

    To double-down on this cynicism, I also think that this is partly being put in place to work against truly independent repairers. At the moment, the truly independents can point out that Apple don't have reasonably priced repair services to legislators, to strengthen their position. Once this is in place, Apple will have a counter argument, while still controlling the repair business

    1. 45RPM

      Re: The cynical view

      In the dim and distant past, Apple used to do exactly this. The ServiceSource CDs provided trouble shooting charts, disassembly and services guides, and Apple provided parts at cost provided that the servicer sent back the faulty parts within a reasonable timeframe.

      I can’t think of any reason why Apple wouldn’t do this again - and I suspect that this is exactly their intention. It doesn’t benefit Apple for their devices to be repaired with anything other than OEM parts since 3rd party parts can impair the function of the device - or even present a hazard (shonky batteries for example).

      If Apple can ensure that the third parties are properly trained (and I’ve seen some right cowboy repair jobs over the years), are properly equipped, and has procedures in place to kick the incompetent off the programme then I can see nothing but upside from this, and for all parties.

      Bet you I’m right, too.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: The cynical view

        You've listened to what Louis Rossmann says at all? Because there is no indication that Apple do what you've suggested at the moment with anybody. Everything is going in the direction of Apple stifling the repair business, and I think this will turn out to be another aspect of it.

        Apparently, there are parts that would be very cheap if Apple allowed them to be sold, that they completely refuse to supply to anybody, not even the Genius Bars, to render devices un-repairable. And now they are making it so that parts are cryptographically paired together to prevent anybody other than Apple from repairing them.

        I also wonder how much money Apple will make from the mandatory certification courses, mandatory stock requirements and diagnostic tools needed to take part in this program, and how many independent repairers will be able to afford them, and the restrictions that will be part of the program.

        I would be interested in finding out what you mean by "in the dim and distant past", because Apple is really not the company it used to be in the pre-Iphone days.

        1. 45RPM

          Re: The cynical view

          Two points - in the first case, I wasn't aware that Louis had commented on this particular story yet, but I look forward to hearing his thoughts. As to the costs, there's no need to wonder too hard - you can read about it here. On the face of it, it doesn't seem to be too exorbitant.

          As to the cryptographic pairing of some parts, those are the parts which are necessary for the Secure Enclave to work. The button, for example, or the camera array, and those parts that are directly connected to it. Similarly, the locks on my car are paired to the car's computer - if the lock is changed then it won't work because the car will consider that its security has been tampered with, and an approved dealer is needed to make the computer approve the new component.

          I genuinely have no problem with this increased security.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: The cynical view @45RPM

            OK, You and Apple has convinced me that the costs are not a high barrier.

        2. 45RPM

          Re: The cynical view

          Dim and Distant past - you've got me there. That was my job. Ahem. More than a quarter of a century ago now! And my work bench currently has a stripped IIci on it, being recapped. So most definitely pre-iPhone!

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    A growing “right to repair” movement

    This would not be needed if sanity prevailed.

    I can buy a $20,000 car and do whatever I want with it, but a $450 phone I cannot have repaired outside of specific cartel of shops ?

    Madness.

    1. 45RPM

      Re: A growing “right to repair” movement

      …I'm not entirely sure that that analogy works. You can buy that car, and you can fit it with cheapo knock off brakes, tyres, hoses, battery, scrapyard door locks etc, just as you can buy an iPhone can fit a knock off screen, battery, knock off power supply etc.

      And as with car as with iDevice, you can't expect the parts to work properly (if at all) in the case of locks or ID sensor. You also can't expect the manufacturer to honour the guarantee if you fit the device with non-OEM parts - you broke it, you pay for it to be fixed (or replaced).

      I'd also argue that it's not a cartel if anyone can apply to join. Sure, they have to meet a minimum standard - but surely that's a good thing?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: A growing “right to repair” movement

        "I'd also argue that it's not a cartel if anyone can apply to join. Sure, they have to meet a minimum standard - but surely that's a good thing?"

        Cartels aren't limited in entry criteria. This is a cartel:

        "1. (economics) A group of businesses or nations that collude to limit competition within an industry or market."

        OPEC, for example, is a cartel. Yet they're happy to let people in. If you run a country which produces petroleum and you're willing to restrict production to manipulate the price along with the other members, OPEC will welcome you with open arms. It's not about how you get into the group. It's about what the group does.

        In this case, Apple is making it such that any company needs to meet their standards to work on any Apple product and therefore deny the right for people who haven't had that certification to do so at all. They will have all the repairers in their corner, and since the repairers must purchase all their plans and parts from Apple, Apple will control the market. Apple sets the price. Apple sets the supply. Apple says what is going to be allowed and what isn't. Apple also controls the supply of repairers if they want to. That's a cartel, albeit one where Apple has nearly all the power.

        As for whether that's a good thing, I'd argue not. For the moment, people who advocate the right to repair have a reasonably good argument. "Apple won't repair our stuff and they also won't let us do it. We should fix that by making them allow us access to the necessary parts." Apple, by letting people open restricted repair shops, is cutting off this argument without fixing the problem. If their repair shops exist and theoretically could fix a product, then there must be options and thus no need for access. However, Apple's control over the repair shops can make it so repairs aren't available or economical. Break a screen? Pay 90% of the original price for a replacement. Break a button? Sorry, that's not available so you'll have to buy a replacement. Meanwhile, they're attacking anyone who attempts to go around them. People who make replacement parts or people who recycle broken phones for those parts which work are being attacked by Apple, both with lawsuits and increased software locks to make sure the parts don't work.

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