Apple has been in the spotlight over Right to Repair for years, and pressure from the Biden administration likely only intensified this. Combined with a shareholder fight, this resulted in yesterday's announcement that the Cupertino giant would soon begin offering a Self Service Repair program.
Here's are some of the highlights from the press release, along with some commentary:
"Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022."
OK, so a limited, slow roll out. Apple has set a timetable here so don't expect other hardware to drop into this program within that timescale.
"The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year."
So, no charging ports, speakers, microphones, keyboards, or the raft of other stuff that can go wrong with a device.
"Apple builds durable products designed to endure the rigors of everyday use."
Hahaha, yeah, OK, right.
"To ensure a customer can safely perform a repair, it's important they first review the Repair Manual."
It's good there's going to be a repair manual.
"Then a customer will place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store."
I'm keen to see what parts and tools are available, and, most importantly, at what price. These need to be priced in a way to make repairs economical.
"The new store will offer more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers to complete the most common repairs on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13."
That, on the face of it, sounds like a decent selection. We'll have to wait and see.
"Self Service Repair is intended for individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices. For the vast majority of customers, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair."
I agree. And this is the rub. Modern hardware is hard to repair. I know.
Right now, all we have are words and pretty pictures in a press release. I want to believe Apple is going to do the right thing here, I really do, but we need to see what this program in action. Right now, all I'm seeing is a press release, and I hope this doesn't turn into something that Apple can point lawmakers to with the hope to make Right to Repair go away.
What we -- and the planet -- need are actions.
Apple has a long track record of being anti Right to Repair, and so it's going to take more than just a nice press release with feel-good words to convince me that Apple is taking this seriously.