Apple has always been seen as one of the biggest enemies of the “right to repair” movement. It has been heavily criticized for its heavy restrictions on who can repair its devices, which ends up costing consumers a lot, even with Apple Care and warranty programs in place. Apple is now addressing part of those complaints with its Independent Repair Provider program for third-party repair shops that is now expanding to almost every country where Apple products are sold.
The only authorized places to get Apple products like iPhones repaired are at official Apple Stores, which are far and few in between, or authorized third-party firms that are often just as expensive as the first-party options. In addition to price considerations, however, these Apple Authorized Service Providers or AASPs are unable to reach many customers that may be residing further away.
The Independent Repair Provider program was launched just back in 2019 as something like a middle ground between large AASPs and smaller shops that often use unauthorized tools and knockoff parts. This would allow those smaller shops to gain some sort of accreditation from Apple without threatening the businesses of Apple’s partners.
Applying for the program is free, Apple says, but it also doesn’t talk openly about the fine print of the program. These independent repair shops only have access to limited kinds of components, just the most common like batteries and screens for iPhones. They can also be fined a hefty amount if Apple suddenly decides to inspect and find them guilty of using unofficial components in their repairs.
The Independent Repair Provider program was previously limited to the US, Canada, and Europe. Now it will be expanding to more than 200 countries throughout the year. Applying for the program is free but technicians still have to go through their own certification courses and exams and those aren’t exactly free of charge.