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Apple will allow iPhone users to repair their devices themselves

As a result of growing pressure from regulators and consumers around the world, Apple plans to allow customers to repair their own devices. Manufacturers have been under increasing pressure to relax restrictions on product repair.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Apple announced a new program that will make spare parts for Apple products available for purchase beginning early next year. It is a program that will allow users to repair their broken devices using repair manuals that will be made available on Apple's website in the future.

Starting with some of the most frequently replaced components, such as displays, batteries, and camera modules, Apple (AAPL) intends to expand its product line. A total of 200 parts and tools will be available at launch, with the company stating that it will add more later next year. In the beginning, users of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 will be able to get their phones repaired, but the program will eventually be made available to Mac computers equipped with Apple's new in-house M1 chip.

Until the program is officially launched next year, Apple will not disclose the prices of its spare parts, but the company has stated that it will charge individual users the same rates that it currently charges independent repair providers.

Despite mounting pressure from the "right to repair" movement, electronics manufacturers — as well as manufacturers of everything from tractors to hospital equipment — have resisted easing restrictions on independent device repair shops or do-it-yourself repairs. Apple's move comes as a result of the "right to repair" movement, which has gained momentum in recent years. A number of businesses have been publicly chastised for putting in place strategies that make it more difficult for independent repair businesses to access devices, such as the use of non-removable memory or batteries, or the sealing of devices with special glue. According to critics, these strategies can raise consumer costs, harm independent repair shops, and have a negative impact on the environment.

A presidential executive order was signed in July by Vice President Joe Biden, directing the Federal Trade Commission to issue rules requiring businesses to allow customers to perform their own repairs. A few days later, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously condemned manufacturers' existing repair restrictions, with chair Lina Khan promising to "root out" illegal repair restrictions that may be in violation of antitrust and consumer protection laws in the United States.

Regulations requiring device manufacturers to provide spare parts to their customers have been passed or are being considered by regulators in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, among other places.

It is not limited to those in the regulatory field. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been a vocal supporter of the "right to repair" movement, stating earlier this year that he was "completely supportive" of the cause. Apple co-founder Ronald Wayne has also expressed support for the cause. During a video posted to the celebrity shout-out website Cameo, Jobs explained why he believes the company would not exist if he had not grown up in an extremely open technology environment.

A popular consumer electronics repair website, iFixit, has applauded the announcement made on Wednesday. The website has previously criticized Apple and other companies for not allowing self-repairs.

According to iFixit, "we're overjoyed to see Apple acknowledge what we've always known: that everyone is a Genius capable of repairing an iPhone."

Previous arguments made by Apple and other companies have been that their repair policies are in place to ensure that products are repaired correctly. According to Apple COO Jeff Williams, "we believe that the most safe and dependable repair is one that is performed by a trained technician using genuine Apple parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested." The company's independent repair shop partner program was announced in a 2019 press release.

Following Apple's announcement on Wednesday, Williams stated that it provides "customers with even more options when a repair is required." As an added bonus, he stated that the company had "nearly doubled" the number of service locations that had access to "Apple genuine parts, tools, and training," and that the company "is now offering a self-service option for those who prefer to complete their own repairs."

Over 2,800 independent repair providers in 200 countries have access to Apple's parts and repair expertise, according to Apple's latest announcement.

However, Apple has stated that it intends to expand the Self Service Repair program to additional countries by 2022, so for the time being, it will only be available in the United States.

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