Exclusive: Apple makes iPhone screen fixes easier as states mull repair laws

Wed Jun 7, 2017 3:15pm EDT
 
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By Stephen Nellis

SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) - Hey Siri, where can I get my cracked iPhone screen fixed?

Apple Inc customers will soon have more choices as the company looks to reduce long wait times for iPhone repairs at its retail stores.

By the end of 2017, Apple will to put its proprietary machines for mending cracked iPhone glass in about 400 authorized third-party repair centers in 25 countries, company executives told Reuters.

Among the first recipients is Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which has long sold and serviced Apple products. The electronics retailer already has one of the screen-repair machines at a Miami-area store and one coming soon to an outlet in Sunnyvale, California.

Fixing cracked screens may seem like small potatoes, but it's a multi-billion-dollar global business. The move is also a major shift for Apple. The company had previously restricted use of its so-called Horizon Machine to its nearly 500 retail stores and mail-in repair centers; and it has guarded its design closely.

The change also comes as eight U.S. states have launched "right to repair" bills aimed at prying open the tightly controlled repair networks of Apple and other high-tech manufacturers.

Apple said legislative pressure was not a factor in its decision to share its technology. It allowed Reuters to view and photograph the machines in action at a lab near its Cupertino, California headquarters. Until now, Apple had never formally acknowledged the Horizon Machine's existence.

The initial rollout aims to put machines in 200, or about 4 percent, of Apple's 4,800 authorized service providers worldwide over the next few months. The company plans to double that figure by the end of the year.   Continued...

 
A broken Apple iPhone repaired by a third party service provider is seen at Apple's display repair laboratory in Sunnyvale, California, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam