The New Apple Self Service Repair Program is a Win for the Right to Repair Movement but...

In case you've been living under a rock Apple recently did a 180 on repair and announced a new program that will allow its customers to purchase its fancy, expensive, exclusive genuine OEM parts. This is a huge win for the right to repair movement for consumers and I want to congratulate all of the folks that have been toiling away at this goal for many years (shoutout to Kyle Wiens of iFixit & Nathan Proctor of U.S. Prig especially - good guys who have been fighting the good fight for a long time). 

RECENT UPDATEMacRumors has seen some internal Apple memo and reported on 11/22/21 that 1) manuals will be available on the Apple Support Website and 2) that it’s online parts store will be operated by an unspecified third party.

While this is a huge win for consumers it is NOT a win for independent tech repair shops or for the greater tech care industry. I repeat this is NOT A WIN for the thousands of tech repair people who own and operate small businesses across the country! In fact, it could be quite the opposite. It could spell the end of entrepreneurs dreams everywhere. Now is not the time to celebrate this seismic shift in policy by Apple. It's time to plan for the future.

What We Know Is We Don't Know

Admittedly, no one knows what happens next and this is total speculation. But allow me to paint a picture for those in the tech repair industry. Apple launches this new program with all the money a tech giant like them can spend in January 2022. All of the state houses -- many of whom convene at the beginning of each year -- decide to table any and all right to repair legislation. "But Apple has changed its strips" legislators will say. Nothing moves forward in 2022.

A month or two into the new year we'll see a lot of reporters doing feature stories on how wonderful this new program is working and show Mom's and Dad's all over the country fixing their own stuff. It will be warm & fuzzy and give you a tickle in your tummy.

In the meantime Apple "authorized" repair shops will be able to offer quick and easy repairs onsite with OEM parts. Consumers will look down on independent repair shops, that far outnumber "authorized" locations, and this will give off a greater impression that independent repair is no good. Business will start to decline for the industry.

At the same time they will announce an expansion of the "authorized" program that won't really be an expansion -- like they did a year ago when they added hundreds of Best Buy locations that were already part of their repair network and the press just simply republished the article. They will also loudly say that any shop can join the IRP program or some other very restrictive and expensive program if they want. Helping them keep a tight fist on the market but getting out some good PR for them.

Now here's the part that should really scare you. 

After a few months Apple will declare "Mission Accomplished"! Then will announce that in an effort to protect its customers from cheap parts that simply don't work as well as theirs -- or, if you prefer, ones that they can't set the price for at locations that they don't control -- that they are activating a kill switch on all of their devices that will reject any and all non-authorized parts that anyone tries to install.

Anyone who is NOT Apple or part of their "authorized" network is DEAD! After that they can go after bigger fish in the sea.

Think it Won't Happen?

Myself, like many others, have tried for decades to get Apple to work directly with the independent tech repair industry -- an industry that actually taught Apple how to fix their own stuff. These are hard working small business people who in many cases have finally found something they are really good at, can make a living providing for their family, and provide a vital service in their communities. Apple, the all mighty of tech giants, has slammed the door in our faces EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

In the meantime they have put up impediments time and time again to restrict and/or damage the reputation of independent tech repair people. The most recent scare was just a few weeks ago when they activated a piece of software imbedded in their O/S that would disable certain features on your iPhone if you had the gall to replace a cracked screen when and where they said you could. What, do you think that will disappear now?!

Could you imagine if car companies disabled your headlights if you changed the wiper blades??!! And what would Safelight do if after they replaced your windshield your AUX cable would no longer allow you to play their jingle to all of your friends before a night out on the town. Safelight Repair...

Apple has the power to do this NOW by flipping the switch on when ever they decide they want to destroy the independent tech repair industry. It's that simple.

The Truth is...

Apple already has tremendous control over the repair market for its devices. Data suggests that the vast majority of Apple users go back to the place they first purchased their device when it gets broken. Which means Apple manages the vast majority of repairs in the first place. The independent tech repair industry picks at the scraps that are left behind and yet the industry has grown at a staggering rate over the last ten+ years to become a multi-billion dollar industry. One that is driven by small business people who create local jobs and produce local revenue. 

The industry has created numerous success stories like uBreakiFix, iCracked, and CPR that landed their founders lucrative deals when they all sold their companies to huge insurance entities over the last few years. I have also heard many wonderful rags to riches stories, including that of YouTube star Louis Rossmann, who built a successful tech repair business then became the voice of the industry, and right to repair, with more than 1.69 million subscribers.

But the fact still remains that Apple unfairly controls every aspect of the repair market -- reminds me a lot of Standard Oil & US Steel doesn't it? Listen I think capitalism is great. I have no problem with a company that is able to bring an innovative product to market and then convince everyone its the greatest thing since sliced bread. But when they cross the Rubicon and unfairly restrict competition, even adding a kill switch to wipe out a market, they have gone TOO FAR!

Why This Matters to Everyone

A free and fair market is important to everyone, but allow me to focus on those in the tech care industry (repair, reuse, recycle, support), especially those in tech repair - independent shops, corporate chains (franchise shops), and all of the companies that supply the industry. Right now your success is 100% reliant on what Apple and other OEMs decide to do with you. You have ZERO CONTROL over your future. It doesn't matter how hard you work or how smart you are. These companies could shut you down tomorrow.

No one in the industry has the power or negotiating strength to go up against any of the OEMs by themselves. NO ONE! 

Don't give me this work hard and compete in the market crap. When big companies have unchecked/unchallenged power the can do whatever they want. This is NOT the definition of a free market economy.

I mean do you really think that Google decided to essentially ban independent repair shops from advertising on their platform because they thought it would help the free market economy or maybe one of their huge partners thought it would help them?! Not a free market principle. Very anti-competitive!

Allow me to compete in a true free market and I can beat anyone. Restrict the way I do business because you control everything sounds like one of those other ism's that we have fought against since the founding of our great country.

Let me say what I have been saying for the last few years, with echoes of Patrick Henry who famously said, "Give me liberty or give me death".

UNITE OR DIE

If the tech repair industry can't find a way to work together, to fight for a free market, then it will die. If the greater tech care industry (repair, reuse, recycle, support) doesn't do the same they will follow suit. Some faster than others, but in the end the lack of a free market will destroy everyone expect the ones at the top of the food chain.

A trade association is the only answer.

Not a group fighting for consumer rights or one that can get you a discount on spudgers but a true trade association that is committed to the industries success. It is only through industry unity will we have the power to fight for a free market to compete in. One that would allow any business to fulfill the American dream.

For those of you who compare these efforts to unite our industry to unions or even socialism, sit down. Trade associations are the antithesis of capitalism. In fact, the origin story of our industry (cellphones/wireless/mobile) would not be what it is today without the power of a trade association by the name of CTIA. Come to DC sometime and I'll take you on a tour to visit all of the industry trade associations that represent businesses great and small to help maintain a free market for their members.

Now, I'd like to ask you to join me and join the TECH CARE ASSOCIATION.

Uniting The TECH CARE Industry is Critical

Ask yourself this question: Would my business benefit from a larger group of companies uniting together to advocate on my behalf with big tech and governmental bodies? If the answer is yes then join us right now by clicking this link or wait a few months and see what happens when you don't take decisive action.

Sure you have question, so let's do an FAQ:

Q: I already belong to another organization that is fighting for right to repair. Why should I join the TECH CARE ASSOCIATION (TCA)?

A: Great support them, give them money, and help them fight for this important cause. We support them and in no way compete with them. Keep in mind however, that right to repair is mainly a consumer issue. It helps open the door for our industry but they are mainly fighting for consumer rights.

Q: We belong to a certification body. Why should we join the TCA?

A: We believe strongly in certifications and would like to work with existing groups to help promote their certs. We are already speaking with a few of these groups but a couple have not returned our messages, which makes us wonder who's side they are on (you know who your are).

Q: We belong to an organization or CO-OP that gets us a discount on the stuff we need. What value would a TCA membership give us?

A: Think of what we do as creating more business opportunities for you. In some ways that will be marketing your business in other ways it will be advocating on your behalf to open new markets OR keep them open for you. Most of these discount groups claim that you will get discounts that will offset their member fees and if that's true great you should join them. If it truly works the way they say it will you should have a surplus of revenue to support our mission and their member companies should see a massive return. You can do the math for yourself.

Q: Will the TCA offer any special deals or discounts to members?

A: We will and we do. First of all any of our industry partners can immediately plug into our network of more than 1,000 repair shops and offer them a deal at any time. Secondly, we are working with a handful of trusted partners to bring exclusive deals to our members. Lastly, we are negotiating with even more companies to allow our members the opportunity to repair and/or sell their products. More details coming in early 2022. Join now to be the first in line!

Q: I worry that the TCA will alienate Apple or other OEMs by attacking them in the media or social media. What's your plan?

A: Our job is to find ways to partner with Apple and big tech companies. The last thing we want to do is say something that might get us a lot of likes or retweets but damage our reputation in the market. Our plan is simple, organize and unify the industry to gain enough power in the market to help create a level playing field for everyone. We want to work with Apple (call us!) and other OEMs (we'll take your calls too!) but only if they are willing to work with us to further the industry fair and reasonable policies on a two-way street.

Q: I hear that you are only focused on tech repair shops. Is that true?

A: We hold the belief that the independent tech repair shop is the heart and soul of our industry -- they impact more people on a day to day basis than anyone else in the industry. We have focused most of our attention on them to start in order to build our membership quickly and help them -- the frontlines often see the most causalities. For us its kind of a bottom-up approach that we believe will ultimately flow upstream to other areas of the industry.

By supporting us you are supporting the industry and making it stronger. As we move into 2022 we will start adding more members in other areas of the industry as well. Join us today to help us move in that direction.

Q: I think I'll wait to join or is there a compelling reason to join now?

A: Everything we do now is to strengthen the industry as a whole. We will only be able to do that, grow to serve more, and become a stabilizing force for the industry if you join now. The longer you wait the more the independent tech care market will erode and the less likely there will be opportunities for you in the future.

JOIN NOW - GET INVOVLED - LEAD - UNITE

Here's the link: https://techcareassociation.org/become-a-tca-member/

WATCH AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TCA


HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP

JOIN US today by visiting our website at 

www.TechCareAssociation.org

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Thanks for the read! 
Please be sure to comment below, follow me here on the WiGoMan blog 
and on twitter @RobBobLink



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