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Apple brings DIY fix-it store to Europe, UK – with gritted teeth

There's an iCatch or two: Spare parts expensive, available for few devices

People in Europe and the UK can buy spare parts on Apple's Self Service Repair Store to fix their own iPhones and laptops, the tech goliath announced on Tuesday.

People in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK can browse the online shop and find hardware – such as screens or cameras – as well as specific screws and tools to repair select devices, including the iPhone SE, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and MacBook Air or Pro models. 

The Self Service Repair Store first launched in the US in April, offering over 200 spare parts and technical manuals instructing people how to take apart and replace gear inside their iPhones and laptops. Apple also rents out tool kits at $49 a week so people don't have to purchase expensive equipment for simple repairs.

"We believe the best technology for our customers and for the planet is technology that lasts, which is why we design our products to be durable and rarely require maintenance or repair," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, gushed in a statement. 

"But when a repair is needed, we want customers to have many options for safe, reliable, and secure repair. That's why we're excited to launch Self Service Repair in Europe, giving our customers direct access to genuine Apple parts, tools, and manuals." 

Apple would prefer that fans pay the super-corporation top dollar to do these repairs for them or, better still, replace their gadget with a brand new one. The iGiant refreshes its most popular products, such as the iPhone, every year, after all. It may make less money if people can fix their old gear by themselves.

That's why the iTitan has always been firmly against consumer groups advocating for a right to repair. But it's losing the fight to keep all of its hardware and tools in-house, as efforts to pass right-to-repair legislation and regulations – aimed at reducing electronic waste – force companies including Apple to make it easier for people to fix their own devices.

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order in July 2021 encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to "limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people's ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs." The European Commission proposed laws forcing hardware companies to provide access to spare parts and extend legal warranties on products for consumers. 

This is far from the Right to Repair we need

There can be little doubt Apple opening Self Service Repair Stores is motivated by legislative pressure – regardless of the PR spin. For instance, Australia's Right to Repair laws only protect independent third-party repairers from manufacturer monopolies – they don't grant individuals power to arrange their own repairs. Apple has not yet shown any excitement to give customers access to parts and manuals Down Under.

Even with legal pressure, some campaign groups supporting Right to Repair policies in the EU argue that Apple's offering is both limited and expensive.

"Basically, this move by Apple aims to promote a vision of repair where the manufacturer almost completely retains control of the product – setting high prices for parts, scaring consumers away from self-repair – while using software to limit use of third-party spares as well as the reuse of existing parts," Ugo Vallauri, co-director of The Restart Project, said in a statement.

"This is far from the Right to Repair we need."

The Register has asked Apple for comment. ®

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