Apple to supply parts to independent repair shops for the first time

Apple to supply parts to independent repair shops for the first time

Apple demonstrates phone repair service in Sunnyvale, California
A technician holds a new iPhone display assembly as he makes a repair at Apple's display repair laboratory in Sunnyvale, California, US, May 19, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple said on Thursday (Aug 29) it will begin selling parts, tools and repair guides to independent shops to fix broken iPhones, a major change after years of lobbying against laws in some US states that would have compelled it to do just that.

Apple said the programme, which should help ease heavy demand on Apple and its authorised partners to fix millions of cracked screens and fried charging ports, will launch in the United States before being rolled out to other countries.

The back flip means that independent repair shops will be offered official parts for out-of-warranty repairs at the same price offered to authorised service providers, such as Best Buy, which perform warranty work.

FILE PHOTO: A Best Buy store is pictured in Pasadena
FILE PHOTO: A Best Buy store is pictured in Pasadena, California US, Feb 28, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said the move could create more opportunities for Apple to sell services or accessories if it encourages iPhone owners to hand down used phones to friends and family.

"That helps them get the product more affordably into the hands of more customers and increases the base," Bajarin said. "Every data point seems to say, if you get someone into the Apple ecosystem, they generally don't leave."

Apple's iPhone sales have declined in the past two fiscal quarters, but sales of accessories such as its AirPods wireless headphones and the Apple Watch, along with paid services like Apple Music, have helped make up for some of the revenue falls.

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Independent shops have long complained that the high purchase volumes required by Apple to become an authorised service provider priced them out of the repair market.

The tech giant had previously lobbied against "right-to-repair" bills to supply independent businesses in several US states, including New York and California, citing concerns about maintaining a high service standard. It earlier this year allowed all US Best Buy stores to handle warranty work.

FILE PHOTO: A man tries to repair an iPhone in a repair store in New York
FILE PHOTO: A battery is exposed as a man tries to repair an iPhone in a repair store in New York, Feb 17, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo)

However, the unofficial repair industry that sprang up, using mostly aftermarket parts supplied by third parties, was often unreliable.

Apple said it trialled the new repair programme for a year with 20 businesses across North America, Europe and Asia. It did not give a timetable for the international launches.

The programme will allow independent stores to set their own prices for repairs and also offer cheaper aftermarket parts. They will be required to return any collected broken Apple parts to the company for refurbishment or recycling.

The programme will be free for shops to join, but they will be required to have an Apple-certified technician who has taken a free 40-hour training course and test provided by the company.

Source: Reuters/nr

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