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Apple now supporting California's 'Right to Repair' bill

After years of opposition, Apple (AAPL) has changed its stance on California's “Right to Repair” bill. The legislation gives people the ability to do more of their own repairs on the things they own. Yahoo Finance Senior Reporter Allie Garfinkle explains that Apple’s support of the bill signifies that they are “ready to help you do it yourself, it’s a massive change”. The switch comes as more than 20 different states have introduced their own version of "right to repair" legislation.

Video Transcript

- After years of staunch opposition, Apple changing course on California's Right to Repair bill. The legislation will give people the ability to do more of their own repairs without a trip to the Genius Bar. Yahoo Finance's senior tech reporter, Allie Garfinkle, joins us now with more. And Allie, we were all a little bit taken aback by Apple's about-face with this one.

ALLIE GARFINKLE: There's no two ways about it, Seana, this is definitely a see change. Because remember how this all historically worked, right? I have an iPhone, for example, and historically when my iPhone broke, I hopefully still have AppleCare and I really only have one option, and that's go to the Apple store, go to the Genius Bar. And the reality is that's a really narrow funnel that has generated billions for Apple.

Now, we don't know exactly how much AppleCare generates, but we do know that AppleCare is part of Apple's booming services business. Now remember, that services business in February, revenue hit an all-time high of $20.8 billion. But I'd argue that this for Apple is even bigger than numbers, Seana. Remember, limited repair options keep you inside the Apple ecosystem and really allow Apple to control this customer experience that is so, so important to them.

However, they're now supporting this right to repair legislation in California. So essentially what they're saying for real in a full-throated way for the first time is that we are ready to help you do it yourself. It's a massive change.

- It is a massive change, and you have to wonder what the business case is for Apple's turnabout. I mean, what is that? And to what extent do you think California is setting the tone for other states to follow?

ALLIE GARFINKLE: It's a good question to kick. And I will say that though this seems a little bit out of the blue, it's actually not a surprising at a second glance. For instance, there have been a lot of legal and cultural forces that have been pushing for this sort of change for some time.

For instance, let's look at 2023 so far. 20 states have already filed right to repair legislation. It's sort of a rare bipartisan issue, and some of these laws have even already been passed. In Colorado, for instance, a right to repair law that focuses on software and ag tech is set to go into effect as soon as January 2024.

Now, the other thing too is that there's a cultural movement here. It's called the fix it movement. It's web-based and it's about environmental awareness, reducing waste, and a sort of extreme DIY saying, hey, I actually can repair my iPhone with none of the tools.

The other thing too here though that's important is even though this looks like a massive change for Apple, in fact, they've actually been having a little give here and there for years, right? They've been making really small concessions as recently as the last two years, I would say. For instance, in 2021, they launched a self-service repair program. And in 2022, they actually did start offering customers the ability to replace their own batteries.

So though Apple has ultimately given some input on this legislation in California, it's part of why they've agreed to it. I would say that consumer advocates are framing this as a mega win. And to me, when I see this, it shows that Apple has a little give sometimes.

- Consumers excited still though. I'm a bit surprised by this move. All right, Allie, thanks.

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