Owning an iPhone is an expensive proposition – the device itself is not just an expensive buy, the repair charges at official Apple repair centers often go through the roof as well.
This puts customers in a quagmire – whether to shell out a chunk of change at the Apple store or void their warranty by getting their iPhone repaired outside. When the device is out of warranty, Apple does not provide any support to consumers for repairs.
Repairs have until now, made the iPhone the gift that keeps on giving for Apple.
The company is finally shifting its position on such repairs. The company posted on its website on Thursday, that they will provide independent businesses parts and tools to perform "the most common out-of-the-warranty repairs."
As part of the new initiative, the company will provide independent repair outlets with the same resources that it provides its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) – OEM tools, diagnostics, parts, guides and even training necessary to repair iPhones.
But, Apple hasn't become out-of-the-way generous just like that. Like always, there's a catch. Even independent outlets will need an Apple-certified technician. They will also need to pay the same price that AASPs pay for parts. So, the customers are still not in control of repairs, unlike they are with most Android phones.
The process is also arbitrary it seems. The company states in the post that it "reserves the right to reject an application without comment," which means it will be in complete control when it comes to choosing "independent" technicians. It also told Gizmodo that it will take its own time to review the applications.
So, Apple is using independent business to expand its service network, but it will keep them under strict control, with the ever-looming fear of the approval being rescinded. It seems like it has taken a page from its supplier Foxconn's notebook – it will employ independent businesses but give them neither the independence of working in their own way, nor the security it offers AASPs.
Another aspect of this situation is that the company has always cited the issue of safety while denying customers the opportunity to get their iPhones repaired outside its network at cheaper prices. Now that independent businesses get involved, that argument also goes for a toss.
The company's move is expected to be something that aims at quelling the demand for the "right to repair" its devices – something that has been long due. But, it has gone for a half-measure, that may not give the expected result.
The only silver lining for customers – they may have more repair centers available at varied locations. Don't expect the repair price to be affected.