Enlarge /. Removing the scissor switch on 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 have to do the job themselves . While these services are often given high marks by 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, as well as an antitrust investigation related to Apple's end-to-end product strategy.
Apple's explicitly stated strategy is to control not only the hardware and software that make up the products, but also the services associated with it, 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 some shift in Apple's strategy – a sort of middle ground that may undermine some of those criticisms and offer consumers more robust repair options 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 so that access to proprietary tools and parts is optimal for many overhauls.