Apple will soon start selling spare parts and tools to ordinary people who want to make small fixes to their iPhones and Mac laptops, in a major step forward for the growing 'right-to-repair' movement.
The California-based technology giant announced that starting next year, it will soon sell more than 200 parts and tools that can perform the most commonly requested repairs to some of its smartphones, including iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.
In 2019, Apple started a program where independent repair shops can buy its parts, tools and manuals. Apple said there are now 2,800 independent shops in its program in addition to its 5,000 directly authorized repair providers.
The new program takes that one step further, allowing owners and users of the devices to be able to make some minor repairs themselves.
Customers will be offered the same pricing on parts and tools as independent repair shops and will be able to return their used parts to Apple after completing a repair to receive a discount.
"Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed," COO Jeff Williams said.
'Right to repair' movement
The self-service repair program from one of the world's biggest technology companies is a victory for the so-called right-to-repair movement that has gained prominence as more of the products people buy — from smartphones to dishwashers to farm equipment — become increasingly sophisticated and integrated with computers.
Nathan Proctor with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and one of the loudest backers of the movement, called the move a "landmark moment" in an interview with CBC News on Wednesday.
"One of our biggest opponents has more or less conceded that people can be allowed to fix their devices."
In the past, Apple has resisted the move to allow users to repair their own devices on the argument that it would lead to safety and security issues where systems could be infected, or that devices could ignite and explode from using off-brand parts.
Proctor says the decision is a major win for consumers — even if the program is limited to only certain fixes on certain devices, for now.
"They've had to concede something they didn't want to concede," he said. "We've won the argument and will continue to be right even after we discover details we don't like about this program.
"Apple is kind of leading the class, so when they start to turn … that's a really significant indication about the power of the right-to-repair campaign."