Apple expands its independent repair program to Mac, after US antitrust investigation examined company’s repair policies

Apple is expanding its program that provides parts, resources and training to independent repair shops to now include support for Mac computers. The repair program was first announced last fall, with the goal of making it easier for consumers to repair their out-of-warranty iPhones by allowing them to use third-party shops, including small businesses, that would now have access to official repair parts and other tools.

The program was meant to complement Apple’s existing network of over 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers, like Best Buy, which handle both in- and out-of-warranty repairs. To some extent, the program arose from consumer demand. Many iPhone users were turning to unauthorized repair shops for a variety of reasons — perhaps the shop was closer to their home, could fix their device more quickly or offered more affordable repairs, for example. But this choice could result in an uneven consumer experience as the shops were locked out from using official Apple parts.

Since its U.S. launch, the independent repair shop program expanded to over 140 businesses and over 700 new locations. This summer, Apple announced the program would now expand internationally as well, to both Europe and Canada.

To date, however, the program was only focused on iPhone repairs — not Macs. Going forward, these repair shops and others that qualify will be able to access Apple-genuine tools, repair manuals, diagnostics, official parts and other resources they need to perform common out-of-warranty repairs on Macs, too. The program is free to sign up for and the repair training is also free, Apple says.

Reuters first reported the news of the program’s expansion. Apple also confirmed the details to TechCrunch, noting that the company believes the safest and most reliable repair is one that’s handled by a trained technician using official Apple parts. The company said, too, it wants consumers to feel confident that their repairs are being done correctly.

The news of the program’s expansion is timely, given that Apple’s stance on consumers’ “right to repair” their own devices is one of the many topics under investigation by the U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee.

The subcommittee had last month held a hearing where it asked Apple CEO Tim Cook about his company’s position on a variety of matters, like its App Store and commission structure, for example. Though not a major focus of the congressional hearing itself, the documents collected as part of the subcommittee’s investigation into Apple included internal emails that showed how the company was conflicted about its repair program and the Right to Repair legislation, which Apple had lobbied against for years.

In one email, Apple execs weighed telling a reporter about its then-forthcoming Genuine Parts Repair program to demonstrate its commitment to more consumer-friendly repair policies, the documents revealed. In others, Apple execs discussed how repair manuals had been published without clearance, indicating a lack of a cohesive strategy around its approach to repair policies.

By further expanding its independent repair program to now include the Mac, Apple benefits from not only better serving customers by expanding access to genuine parts, but also from redirecting the focus of the antitrust investigation away from this particular topic, at least, if not the others.