Enlarge / Removing the scissor switch in a 16-inch MacBook Pro courtesy of iFixit.
Apple announced today that it will be expanding a program to give third-party repairers access to their own tools, diagnostics, and parts. The program launched last year initially only provided the resources for maintaining iPhones. Now it also applies to Macs. As with the iPhone program, stores can sign up for the program for free, and those who participate receive free training and access to parts.
Apple has tried to make its own services like AppleCare + and the Genius Bar in Apple retail stores a major selling point for potential Mac users who want good repair options without having to figure out which stores are reliable or which ones Work yourself. While these services often get high marks from Apple's customers, there is one major problem: the company's Apple Store locations mostly serve large urban centers in relatively affluent countries.
This coverage has multiple gaps, leaving iPhone or Mac owners who don't live in these places with fewer options. This repair parts program can be a first step towards solving some of these issues. This allows some third-party stores that serve areas in which Apple Stores do not offer services for iPhones and Macs that are closer to what consumers would in an Apple Store.
In addition, the expansion of this program continues as Apple is at the center of an in-depth review by lawmakers and consumer protection organizations and an antitrust investigation into Apple's end-to-end product strategy.
Apple's explicitly stated strategy is to control not only the hardware and software that make up its products, but also the associated services such as the app store or repair programs. The argument is that this creates better experiences for users who get involved, but some watch dogs, lawmakers, regulators, and commentators argue that it is anti-competitive.
The growth of this program signals a shift in Apple's strategy – a sort of middle ground that may undermine some of these criticisms and provide more robust repair options for consumers in some markets. Even so, the program remains small – there are only a few hundred stores in the US, Canada, and Europe to date – and Apple is still building its products to have access to in-house tools and parts optimally for many repairs.