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Apple self-service repair unlikely to help businesses

Experts believe small and medium-size businesses will continue using repair shops to fix Apple iPhones and Macs to avoid breaking and replacing the hardware.

Apple's plan to launch a self-service repair program next year for its newer iPhones, iMacs and MacBooks will unlikely entice many businesses to try fixing the precision devices themselves, experts said.

The risk associated with the do-it-yourself repair is too significant for small and midsize businesses to do the work in-house rather than continue using Apple or Apple-certified repair shops. Large companies typically have support contracts from hardware distributors.

"I'm certified to do Apple repair, and I would never do it," said Charles Edge, a former Apple repair specialist in Minnesota. "Precision electronics are complicated."

Apple announced last week that it would provide tools and parts to businesses and consumers through a Self Service Repair program launching early next year for only the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. Apple planned to start with common fixes like displays, batteries and cameras. Later in the year, the company said it would add iMacs and MacBooks powered by its new M1 processor to the program.

The move was a first for Apple, which had voided the warranty on any product that the company or a certified repair shop didn't fix.

Apple's decision to support self-repair will unlikely cause businesses to change because of the fear of breaking the device, said Glenn O'Donnell, an analyst at Forrester Research. Also, depending on the cost of the parts, businesses could find sending the device to Apple or a repair shop more cost-effective.

The iPhone 13 model smartphone
Apple will sell parts for people to start repairing their iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 smartphones next year.

"It's just not worth the effort," O'Donnell said.

Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said Apple wanted to provide customers with the choice of going it alone with repairs. The program would provide access to more than 200 parts and tools from an Apple online store.

Nevertheless, Williams stressed that the program is for "individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices." He recommended that most customers continue taking their devices to the company or a certified technician. Apple has 5,000 authorized service providers and 2,800 independent repair shops.

The move comes as Congress considers the Fair Repair Act proposed by Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.). The bill would require manufacturers to make diagnostic repair information, parts, and tools available to customers.

In July, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order prohibiting companies from barring individuals and independent repair shops from repairing equipment.

O'Donnell said Apple took a lot of heat from customers and politicians for not letting people repair iPhones, and "the chorus got so loud that they finally had to do something about it."

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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