Yesterday Apple announced their Self Service Repair program, and I commented that I was waiting to see what others would think of this. 24 hours later and I’ve read all the takes I could find, and now I think I’ve come to my opinion on the matter.
This is an unabashedly good thing, and while there are aspects you could complain about, I think it’s absolutely progress that should be welcomed.
Sure, most people will still just take their phones and laptops into an Apple Store or other repair shop and get a professional to do it for you, but that doesn’t belittle this at all. Most people don’t sew either, but you’d reasonably be upset if you got a hole in your shirt and the company who made that shirt forbade you from patching that hole, and even lobbied Congress to prevent you from ever doing that. Besides, this takes away nothing, so if you don’t want to or physically can’t perform your own repairs, then you can keep doing what you’ve always done.
Flipping that on its head, having these repair guides and parts available from Apple for the most popular consumer tech products ever made could make it so more people try this than ever before, and they learn how to do this work and get a better understanding of how technology works. Again, this seems like a good thing, even if most people won’t do it.
I’ve seen criticisms that this doesn’t go far enough. Apple’s program will let you perform repairs to your iPhone screen, battery, and cameras, which isn’t everything that could go wrong in a phone. Absolutely, being able to self-service Lightning port replacements or buttons or whatever else in the phone would be great, but this is a first attempt at this, and I think these are very reasonable things to do let people fix. If this goes well, then it seems reasonable to expect Apple to expand the things you can fix yourself, but I’m totally okay with this list as a starting point.
And finally, there is the criticism that Apple is just doing this because they are feeling upcoming regulations nipping at their heels and they want to belittle the argument against them. I’d say sure, but does that make it bad? It may make it look less like their idea or that they’re doing it out of the goodness of their corporate heart, but it doesn’t turn this into a loss for consumers.
If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I don’t praise everything Apple does, and I’m happy to hold their feet to the fire when it’s warranted, but I think this is a good thing for users.