Apple is loosening its attitude towards product repairs as it bids to dramatically reduce the wait time for cracked screen fixes.
Smartphones are good for a handful of inevitable things: distracting users, storing images, and operating just as well with cracked screens.
And screens crack, a lot.
Despite the abundance of sapphire glass a few years back, or the rise of a better, stronger gorilla glass in more recent times, a dropped phone still, quite often, means a cracked screen.
Getting it fixed can be a slow process for customers, though it’s huge business for manufacturers, many of whom tightly control where repairs can be made.
However, that could soon be changing. Reuters today (7 June) reports that Apple is changing tack, moving away from restrictions that see just a few hundred Apple outlets offer the service.
By the end of 2017, Apple will put its proprietary machines for mending cracked iPhone glass in about 400 authorised third-party repair centres, in 25 countries.
Apple claims repair times are increasing across its retail stores, so this move is a way of releasing these pressure points.
The timing is curious, however, as several US states have recently sought a legislative change that could force companies such as Apple to allow other vendors to repair their products.
Apple denies that this legislative pressure played a part in its decision. “We’ve been on a quest to expand our reach,” said Brian Naumann, senior director of service operations at Apple.
Last month, it emerged that Apple had created a new $1bn Advanced Manufacturing Fund to foster innovation among American manufacturers.
A $200m investment in Corning followed, to support revolutionary glass production methods.
Corning’s 65-year-old facility in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, will be the focus of Apple’s investment, which will support the former’s R&D, capital equipment needs and state-of-the-art glass processing.
Apple has collaborated with Corning throughout the 10-year history of the iPhone.
“Corning is a great example of a supplier that has continued to innovate and they are one of Apple’s long-standing suppliers,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, last month.
“We’re extremely proud of our collaboration over the years and we are investing further with Corning, who has such a rich legacy of innovative manufacturing practices.”