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Apple's new official repair kits 'welcomed' by repair stalwarts iFixit

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Apple's announcement that it would offer first-party DIY kits for iPhones and M1 Macs ushers in a new era for the famously secretive tech giant. iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens talks about how the kits will hit third-party repairers and the market for DIY electronics fixes.

Video Transcript

- Welcome back. Well, forget about the Genius Bar. Try doing it yourself with original Apple parts. Yes, a new policy lets you do just that, finally. What does it mean for other repair outlets? Here to discuss that is Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO.

Kyle, thanks so much for your time today. This was a big deal for Apple, right? And it goes into effect early next year. But why do you think this is happening now? Because for 20 years, they've pushed against it.

KYLE WIENS: Apple has steadfastly refused to enable people to repair their own things for as long as I can remember. What's changing this is regulatory pressure. You have 27 different US states so far this year have introduced right to repair laws. You've got the European Commission, Australia, Canada looking into this. So Apple decided to get ahead of the regulations.

- Can we trust the people who are not perhaps the actual Apple techs to do this correctly? I would think, yes. But should we be nervous?

KYLE WIENS: Yeah, are you nervous assembling IKEA furniture? It's kind of similar. If you can-- Well, then you'll be nervous fixing your phone. Yeah, it's really not that bad. It follows step-by-step instructions. I mean, the people who assemble these things do not have PhDs in electrical engineering. And it's just a matter of turning screwdrivers.

- Kyle, what do you think is behind the decision, though, for Apple to do this? I know that they've been-- it's something that they have resisted for years and years and years. Karina was saying that she can't believe that this is actually happening. What do you think was the one thing or one or two things that forced Apple to really change their mind about this?

KYLE WIENS: I think it was probably the Biden administration executive order. The following up on the report that the FTC issued earlier this year. Apple's had arguments that they've been trotting out over the years of why they don't want to enable people to repair their own things. And those arguments had kind of felt hollow. And the FTC report went into detail and said they couldn't find any substantive evidence backing up the arguments against repair.

And so I think Apple is bowing to the inevitable here. You've got the Biden administration, 27 different US states, and they want to see more competition in the marketplace, and Apple's realizing that was inevitable.

- And then, how much does this help or hurt companies like yourself and other third-party repair outlets?

KYLE WIENS: Well, so iFixit sells parts and tools to fix Apple devices. So we're kind of thrilled to welcome Apple to the market a little bit. It's interesting having, you know, the most profitable company in the history of the world wanting to compete with you all of a sudden. But we're thrilled to have them here.

- Could we ever see a day-- I mean, in the car world, you can get secondary market parts that aren't necessarily original equipment manufactured parts. Is that, you know, is the door now open and a greater revolution with Apple do-it-yourself products? I mean, it'll grow beyond just these devices that are eligible now.

KYLE WIENS: Right, yeah, that's the market that we want to see this look like. In the automotive market, you can take your car to a dealership and then have them install OEM parts. You can take it to an independent shop and they'll give you a choice. Do you want OEM parts or do you want to use cheaper alternatives? And we need that same competition in the electronics world. And I'm hopeful that this is the first step in that direction.

- Kyle, you fix all different types of products, I assume. What do people need the most help with? Is it their cell phones or is this something else that we might not be thinking of?

KYLE WIENS: I mean, we help people fix all kinds of things, from vacuums to skateboards to smartphones. But I would say, the smartphone is the thing that we have. I mean, you think about it. You take your phone in and out of your pocket how many times? 50 times a day? And it's made out of a glass. Of course, we drop it and we break it sometimes.

The footage that you have on there is of the camera. One common problem with phones is if you ride a motorcycle and you strap your phone to your handlebars, the vibration is actually killing the cameras and you have to replace your camera early.

- This will seem like a silly question perhaps. But we've all gone through the nightmare of your battery is no longer working correctly much faster. Is that here now? Will I be able to actually open up the back of my XR, which is about to lose its battery efficiency in less than three years and change the battery myself and do it within 15 minutes?

KYLE WIENS: Well, Apple is saying they're going to make the battery and the tools available. It's probably a little bit more than a 15-minute project the first time that you do it. That's the battery that we're looking at here. It's most of the space inside your phone, is the battery and they wear out. Probably, every two years is a good time frame to be replacing the battery on your phone. It's absolutely something that you can do.

I would say, you know, look at the instructions when Apple releases theirs. You can look at Apple's instructions or you can go on iFixit and you can look at our step-by-step instructions and see if that's something you feel comfortable doing yourself.

- So wherever Apple goes, others tend to follow, right? So what do we see as far as other companies like Microsoft and Google? Do they follow suit?

KYLE WIENS: Right, well, I want to say, Apple's not the first on this. Microsoft made a commitment to their shareholders earlier this year that they would be expanding repair options. We saw Google with the Pixel 6. They just released a tool, a software tool for calibrating a new fingerprint sensor. So, well, I think we're starting to see movement. But Apple's is certainly committing to move maybe a little bit faster than we've seen the other companies.

- Well, I never thought I'd see the day. So it is big news. Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO, thank you so much for your time today. And happy Thanksgiving to you.