iFixit boss: Apple has ‘done everything it can to put repair guys out of business’

“Fixing and upgrading iOS devices can be a rewarding business opportunity, so long as you don’t mind having to fight Apple every step of the way,” Shaun Nichols reports for The Register.

“So says the founder of iFixit, who spoke at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco on Thursday,” Nichols reports. “The repair outfit’s CEO Kyle Wiens said there is little or no information for servicing the handheld gizmos: everything his company does, from its famous tear downs of new hardware to the manuals and how-to guides it publishes, are put together without any more access to Apple than is enjoyed by the average person on the street.”

“He said that not only does Apple make fixing its fiddly electronics extremely difficult, but doing so with the blessing of the company is practically impossible: Apple’s authorized technician certification apparently only applies to Mac computers, rather than iThings, and even that qualification is becoming more difficult to obtain,” Nichols reports. “‘They [Apple] have done everything they can to put these guys [third party repairers] out of business,’ claimed Wiens.”

Read more in the full article here.

47 Comments

    1. What are you talking about? Did you even read the article? This guy isn’t talking about Apple doing everything they can to make sure viruses aren’t on Apple software and putting ‘repair’ people out of business in that sense… He’s talking about Apple doing everything they can to make it difficult for small and independent business owners to repair your phone… This is BAD for consumers. If you crack your screen of your iPhone it costs $200+ to get Apple to repair it… It costs $50 to $100 for most repair shops to repair it. You shouldn’t want a situation where only Apple can repair or work on your devices so then it puts them in a position to charge however much they want to because there is no competition… are you blind, deaf, or daft mate?

      1. I think you miss the point completely.
        Can anyone fix an iPhone? Yes. Does Apple give anyone blessing to do so? No…

        Because the spare parts and service from others is NOT up to their standard. Then ppl get the association with poor performance / parts with Apple.

      2. The 200+ is not for Apple to repair it, it’s for Apple to fully replace it with a brand new unit.

        That means you get far more than a replaced screen… New battery, no dings, no loose components, etc.

        1. Apple is doing more and more to do repair in the store.

          And at least some of the repair is reasonable. I think they are trying to decide just what they want to do.

          Just saying.

          1. Repairs in the store are great, but most people do not live near a store. This is a problem if you have to lose your phone while it is sent away for repair or replacement. Replacement can be a problem as you may get a used phone in return.

    2. Um, SamLowry, I’d go a bit deeper into the situation before making that blanket statement. I had a net conversation with Paul Ducklin at Sophos last week where he (in as annoying a written voice as possible) made it clear that Apple does NOT consider its XProtect system the equivalent of ‘anti-malware’ (which is the correct term, not ‘anti-virus’).

      My net friend Thomas Reed has been having a friendly battle with Apple getting them to keep XProtect up-to-date. You can thank Thomas for finessing Apple to recently catch XProtect up with the most recent malware. Apple would have been asleep at the wheel otherwise.

      http://www.reedcorner.net

      Conclusion: Apple isn’t being perfect, consistent or vigilant about keeping Macs free of malware. Sorry. But XProtect is potentially of great benefit to Mac users.

      As is typical with Apple, they venture into a niche to help out the user, but not to lock out further elaborations within the niche by 3rd party developers. I’m playing with Extensis Suitcase Fusion 5 this weekend. It is DRAMATICALLY superior to Apple’s Font Book! That’s one reason Suitcase costs $99. Similarly, XProtect and Gatekeeper are NOT perfect.

      I highly recommend that anyone administering more than just one’s personal Macs get anti-malware software if they don’t have total confidence in their users. The ‘LUSER’ Factor cannot be underestimated. It is astounding what CRAP people will install onto their computers, how easily they will fall for Phishing scams, how easily they’re suckered into installing a Trojan horse, how often they never bother to turn on the firewall in OS X. Apple still, to this day, do NOT turn on the firewall by default. Figure that one out!

      Plus, a decent anti-malware program will have heuristics analysis you can turn on that will watch for scary stuff happening on Macs. Heuristics can get annoying. But if, for example, you’re forced to use Java over the Internet, I HIGHLY recommend keeping anti-malware heuristics turned on. Java is the single most dangerous software anyone can use on the Internet. Either DELETE Java or have heuristics running when you use it. Java is that craptastic these days. (I hate you Oracle!)

      There are best practices for avoiding malware, and I expect all of us here follow them. But if you have newbies, grannies and LUSERS on your network: You can’t be too careful.

  1. Thee ever shrinking world of fixable electronics, and the ever expanding world of disposable electronics.

    Same thing with TV’s. My repair man says it’s usually cheaper just to buy a new one.

    1. What an insanely asinine comparison… electronics that cost $600 to buy a new one, $200+ for Apple to fix it, or just $75 (on average in the area where I live) for a third party shop to fix it is not considered disposable electronics. Maybe you have $600 to buy phones at a whim.. Buy between taking care of my immediate family as well as all the bills for my last living parent $600 at a whim is not disposable at all mate.

      1. It’s an absolutely correct comparison. Most electronics, especially very small consumer electronics like iPhones, are not really serviceable. There is very little that can be repaired in an iPhone beyond the screen — you’re almost to the cost of a new iPhone if you need to replace the circuit board.

        1. In 95% of the cases the damage that 3rd party shops fix is screen damage. So sure, you’re ‘almost’ to the cost of a new phone if you have to replace the circuit board (but that’s just almost and saving every penny matters to some people) however if the option is buy a phone for $600 or have the screen repaired for $75 on average then the choice for any level headed consumer would be to fix the scree. Don’t be dense on purpose… This isn’t rocket science by any means…

        1. 1.) It’s $200 for a refurbished phone
          2.) That’s only IF you’re within the 1st year of your phone or you pay the $100 Apple care beforehand.
          3.) That’s still significantly more than $75 on average

  2. Well I for one think that’s a good thing. Have you looked at what the repair business has become in the windows world, in the PC World. Please, I do not want this in the Mac World. Some yo-yo just wanted to charge my sister-in-law $350 to install a hard drive in her iMac. She did it herself in 30 minutes and saved $350.

    1. That yo-yo was probably cheaper than what Apple would charge if it was out of warranty.

      What kind of iMac did your sister-in-law have and is she an Apple technician? I’m guessing she had an earlier G5 with a white case. Those were the last iMacs that had a hard drive that a non-technical person could easily access. But good for her.

      With the earlier aluminum case iMacs, you have to have suction cups to pull the glass off, then you have to carefully remove the entire LCD screen to find the hard drive nestled in the back of the machine. The potential exists to damage video cables and the LCD during this operation. Its a half hour job for an experienced tech. It’s slightly risky for an inexperienced person.

      Then on later iMacs, the drive is proprietary and you can’t buy a replacement on your own or have some yo-yo swap it out at any price. You can thank Apple for that. It was totally unnecessary, just like requiring removal of the fragile glass pane and LCD to replace the component most likely to fail in the machine. How damned hard would it be to include a little hatch in the back to allow a user to replace a failed drive? Not hard and it would have saved them many hours of tech time in their own repair depots.

      But no, Apple deliberately makes it a huge pain in the ass because they want you to buy a new machine. Flame me all you want but it’s true. Feel free to offer alternative explanations if you can think of any.

      I think I heard that the current iMacs have glass that is glued in and must be softened with a heat gun before removal. I could be wrong, but I stopped caring after Apple pulled the proprietary hard drive trick.

      On the smaller devices like iPads, Apple can do what they want. There are no commodity parts in them and they’re too cheap to bother with a repair usually. It would be nice to be able to replace broken glass though. On desktops like the iMac, there’s no reasonable argument against the fact that Apple is forcing obsolescence by design.

      There’s also no denying that Apple discourages 3rd party service providers. I used to be an AASP. Me and some other small shops I know of were cut off without explanation a few years ago. Now people in non-metro areas just have to suck it up and bring their machines into the nearest city… or buy a new machine, wink.

      So I’m glad your sister in law was able to repair her own machine. She won’t be able to do it after she buys a new iMac.

      1. Actually, Pumpkin has never done this before. Yes, she did have to buy some suction cups to pull off the glass. She produces a magazine in Michigan, has no technical skills,…until now. Maybe luck.

      2. theobelk: Hi, I’m the owner of a small AASP and Apple Specialist, and if you have a moment, I’m curious to find out about you guys being shut down as AASPs. Was it really without explanation?

        They always say you could lose authorization if you break certain rules, if your volume isn’t sufficient, if you didn’t meet metrics goals, etc. To hear that they could de-authorize someone for LITERALLY no reason scares me.

        Are there other “suspicious” factors that might make Apple’s motivations look shady — e.g., lots of Apple stores near you? Lots of other independent AASPs nearby?

        Sorry for the derail — I’m just trying to find out more, and it always scares me (for obvious reasons) when I hear about another one of us shutting down. Obviously, our Apple reps never tell us anything about why, and it’s as if other AASPS and resellers, even if they DO know, all shut up and pretend they don’t.

        1. Our dismissal was probably due to low volume. We didn’t do a lot of repairs, but the repairs we did were fast, accurate and the customers were 100% satisfied as far as I know. I would specialize in turning a repair around for business customers as fast as possible with pickup and delivery. We didn’t deal much with random consumers.

          Then one day we got an anonymous email from the “Apple Team” or something like that saying our contract would not be renewed. No explanation. Replies and inquiries were ignored. When a division of Apple doesn’t want to deal with you anymore, you simply don’t exist to that division of Apple. Other divisions of Apple will cheerfully continue to try and get money out of you though.

          Yes, I’m still butthurt about that. So are Apple’s customers who could sometimes get a repair turned around in 24 hours but now have to drag their business-critical machine into the Apple Store and wait for several days.

          I can speculate about possible causes and but, truthfully, I never got any warning or an explanation. It could have been low volume, failing to fit the traditional model of an AASP, complaints from consumers that I never heard about or the proximity of new Apple Stores. I’ll never know why and I’ve moved on to bigger and better things.

          In a way I’m kind of relieved that I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Repairs never were a big money maker compared to the consulting and other things I do. But I know better than to rely on somebody else’s company now.

      3. theobelk,

        I am a Certified iCracked iTech, and we repair broken glass/screens and LCD’s on all generations of iPads all the time, as well as iPhones and iPods. So not sure where you get the idea that the screens can’t be repaired/replaced on iPads.

      4. The hard drive issue drove me away from using iMacs. I have sensitive data on my computer and I just cannot drop the computer off at the Genius desk for repair without pulling the hard drive first. I switched to a Mac mini/TB-Display set-up where I can swap the hard drive in 15 min.

    2. Right, but increasingly, that’s becoming less of an option. Most of Apple’s newest products don’t allow drive upgrades or replacements as flash storage and RAM are soldered to the board.

  3. some 3rd party guy repairs an apple product the wrong way and it burns down a house killing all inside… Apple would have to answer for that! So yes – 3rd party repair people should understand this and lighten up!!!

    1. I can’t see how Apple would have to answer for that. If you lodged a complaint about a 3rd party repair at the Apple Store, they would just invalidate your AppleCare for having a non-certified technician do the repair and the staff would take turns kicking you on the way out the door.

      But feel free to try and remain “lightened up” the next time your Mac’s hard drive takes a dump, you are informed that your AppleCare expired last month, and you have a stroke over the quote for the repairs from the Genius Bar. Having no alternatives will be a big comfort to you.

      1. Some years (a couple decades ago) a pilot of a Beechcraft Bonanza unwisely flew into bad weather somewhere over the midwest.

        Shortly after, buying a smallish plot of farmland along with his passengers.

        Pilot error. Period. Which explains why a subsequent civil trial on “behalf” of families of some of the passengers hit Beech aviation with a $2 Billion-dollar law suit. It wasn’t thrown out at filing, and Beech had to spend time and money fighting the case, as stupid as it sounds.

  4. Apple IMO protects the customer by building a quality product and giving fantastic after sales care. Anytime I’ve needed a fix they’ve covered it despite warranty status.

    The difference is I don’t need to waste time looking fixing or upgrading – I just keep working and living (not in that order)!

    1. Aww, that’s nice that you feel sympathy for somebody who’s business specializes in helping people repair their own damaged and broken devices. Other more short-sighted and ignorant people might mistake the need for repair for an implied weakness in a company they blindly worship.

  5. This is classic Apple! They care about customer satisfaction, but play mean hardball with (existing and would-be) business partners.

    My guess is this is part of Apple’s strategy for getting people into Apple Stores and I am sure it works.

    In the meantime, it may not be as convenient for repair shops to operate, but they are doing it successfully so Apple isn’t actually preventing customers from getting quality 3rd party repairs.

  6. Stop all integration. Those who saw the first integrated circuits asked” How can someone replace a failed transistor?” We need to go back to highly repairable circuits and displays where each NAND gate is on its own individual plug-in circuit card. Strive for repairability rather than convenience and cost.

  7. My wish for everyone who chooses to see Apple’s product actions as nefarious (drive customers into Apple stores for repair, put 3rd party folks out of business, etc.) is that you could spend just a week in AppleCare seeing what has failed on the products that come in. Apple does not want products to fail — failing products confound consumers who buy Apple because “it just works.” What fails are parts that can move (or be removed): They have to be packaged differently for safety reasons than a part that is not going to be moved; they come loose; they get dust between contacts; and so on.
    There was a time when MacBooks were made of plastic. Enough failed weirdly that the investigation went out to users and it was discovered that by holding the MacBook by a corner (away from the hinge) while the unit was open would cause enough flex to crack the circuits on the top of the motherboard. Notice now that aluminum frames are used and are much less flex-able.
    There was a time when iBooks had tray-loading CD/DVD drives. They failed constantly. Notice how quickly Apple moved to slot loading drives.
    Remember when mouse balls required constant cleaning and fouled and failed? Remember the rolling ball on top of the ?Mighty Mouse? which failed and couldn’t be cleaned? All of that gave way to today’s laser mouse with touch surface: Nothing in daily use that can fail.
    You shouldn’t for a minute think Apple’s moves are those of a greedy corporation. They are simply the best way Apple has found to ensure customers remain delighted with their purchase.
    Yes, this leads to specialized repair needs. But it also leads to far fewer repairs needed. And far more loyal customers who notice over the long haul that, no, they don’t have problems with their Macs like they did with their PCs before.

  8. @SamLowry

    While Apple does some things to mitigate malware, when a pro wants in to an Apple computer as per a good pentester, gray hat or black hat, they are in. Pwn2own this year showed Safari was pwnd with ease when someone wants to spend time to find vuls. As a malware writer goes for numbers…8 to 10% Mac vs PC 85% they go for a PC. Security through obscurity, you are living it now and you don’t believe it though.

    1. Full of Shit on the security through obscurity crap… In fact even at the 8-10% which is also bull shit, nearly all of the dollars are in the apple camp, so targeting those users with malware would yield a much higher ROI… Yet very little exists.
      Oh and by the way, the black hat that successfully pwned safari also said that it was the most secure system… but you left that part out. SCUMBAG!

    2. ‘Security Through Obscurity’ is a total FAIL regarding Macs. Anyone using it is a tech illiterate asshole. Let’s be blunt about it. The mathematics, comparing the number of Windows or Android malware versus that for Apple gear, blows the idiotic ‘Security Through Obscurity’ bullshit to hell and back. Period.

      Regarding the 2014 Pwn2Fun (not Pwn2own) charity contest, on day 1 the Google team successfully PWNed using Safari. Another Safari PWN was planned for day 2 by Vupen, but was withdrawn. Safari’s sandboxing was noted as one reason it was harder to PWN than Firefox.

      But every other major browser, particularly Firefox, was ALSO PWNed. That includes Google Chrome.

      Regarding penetration testing (pen-testing), it’s relatively easy to find buffer overruns/overflows in a lot of software on ANY platform. That is specifically due to the lack of adequate memory management using any coding language I’m aware of, including Java, which was supposed to fix that problem. There is NOTHING special about pen-testing software on Macs. Nothing. It’s not about Apple. It’s about our primitive coding languages and practices at this time in history.

      BTW: I won’t be responding to trollish responses to my information. So do try to respond with intelligent posts.

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