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Apple’s implementation of self-service repair is quite something

I feel like a follow-up is really necessary on this.   I’ve covered Apple’s Self-Service Repair program on the show. 

Well, a reporter at the Verge ordered a kit.   Two Pelican cases containing 79 pounds of tools arrived to repair a iPhone mini screen.       Here’s a quote.

Apple lets you rent an industrial-grade heat station that looks like a piece of lab equipment, right down to the big red safety dial you twist to release the emergency-off button and the suction-cup-tipped mechanical lifting arm. 

I slip my phone in a perfectly sized “heating pocket” that clamps a ring of copper around the iPhone’s band to evenly distribute the heat and melt the seal around the screen, realize in horror that I’ve invited the “Hot Pockets!” jingle to live in my head rent-free, then spin a dial to raise the arm that separates the iPhone’s screen from its body. 

Or, that’s how it’s supposed to work, anyhow. The heating machine threw an error code partway through my first attempt, and Apple’s manual didn’t explain what to do if that happens after you’ve stuck your phone inside. So I wound up heating it twice in a row. And yet, that still wasn’t quite enough for my screen to “immediately” pop up when the suction cup arm began to lift the glass. The manual did cover that situation, making me spin a second hidden knob to put more pressure on the suction cup, but I started freaking out when I saw what looked like cracks spider across the screen. (It turned out it was just suction cup residue.)

All this after a credit card hold of $1,200 for the toolkit, which is lost if the tools aren’t returned within seven days of delivery.

Why do we care? 

Do you know the spirit versus the letter of the law comparison?  Here Apple is certainly delivering what they promised – you certainly can do the repair – but this is clearly not the spirit of letting individuals do the work. 

However, what the article does not cover is what I have – that this does open the door for third-party dealers to do it and use the tools and techniques Apple uses.   In particular, publishing the manuals and the service details – and having an approved process for third-party parts – does open up the ecosystem for repairs.    

I think that’s a key element to this – right-to-repair doesn’t mean that ONLY individual consumers OR the company can do the repair, but that there are options for the owner to pick how they want to do it.

However, the danger is that Apple may use this to justify lack of interest.  Consumers find this process hard, so they don’t do it, which Apple then uses as justification to be more closed.   A real danger of this approach.