If you talk about some of the most delayed, time-consuming, painstaking tasks you have to go through in your lifetime, getting a cracked iPhone screen fixed definitely features in the Top 5. Its an arduous job, largely because of the long waitlists at Apple’s official retail stores and repair centers, the only ones currently which give you genuine, new screen.
That, could soon change.
According to a report published today on Reuters, Apple is mulling over the idea of putting up its proprietary machines for mending cracked iPhone glass in about 400 authorized third-party repair centers in 25 countries. The same was told to Reuters, by senior executives from Apple. (This in itself is a first, because you generally don’t see Apple executives talking to media off record.)
Apple is expected to initially start this roll-out with Best Buy, one of the longest serving third-party retailers of Apple’s products. One of these screen-repair machines is already installed at a Miami-area store and one coming soon to an outlet in Sunnyvale, California.
Out of the over 4800 retailers globally, Apple is initially targeting 200 of them in sharing this technology.
The development holds major significance from a lot of different point of views. First up, this will be the first time that Apple will be sharing the technology of its long rumoured, tightly-controlled ‘Horizon Machines’ network. Apple has been long accused of not letting repair centers get hold of this screen fixing technology, largely in order to have a pie of this multi-billion screen repair market.
Secondly, there is legislative pressure on Apple as well, even though the company has been denying the same for a long time. 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.
The consequences of this rollout however, could only be positive for Apple. The company has sold over a billion iPhones globally, and in locations where in people are ordering the device through ecommerce with no physical access to Apple’s retail stores. Now to fix their screens, they go to regular local technicians, who put up Chinese-made copy-cat screens on the phone. Due to the same, iPhones — which are an expensive luxury in large parts of the world — malfunction and ultimately become unusable.
We’ve mailed Apple for a comment on the Reuters story, and will update this piece once we hear back from them.