Apple Is Reportedly Looking To Block Third-Party Repairs For MacBooks And iMacs

Apple is butting heads with 'Right to Repair' activists.

Apple seems to be preparing to block third-party repairs for its MacBook and iMac lines.
Poravute Siriphiroon / Shutterstock

Apple is butting heads with 'Right to Repair' activists.

For the past few years, Apple’s notebooks and desktop computers have become more and more difficult to repair. Gone are the days of the early-2010-era MacBook Pros, which could be upgraded and fixed even by knowledgeable owners. Now, it seems like Apple is preparing to roll out a system that would allow even fewer people to repair laptops and desktops without compromising their devices.

Earlier this week, MacRumors was able to access a memo from Apple stating that computers equipped with the T2 chip, including the iMac Pro and the 2018 MacBook Pro, are required to pass Apple diagnostics for certain parts of the repairs to be completed. Following is the pertinent section of the memo from Apple.

“For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair.”

While such a move might be understandable, Apple’s diagnostic software is only used by Genius Bars at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and qualifying institutions. This means that third-party Apple repair shops, such as iFixit, would most likely be blocked by completely repairing damaged devices.

Such news has triggered a number of Apple MacBook and iMac owners, many of whom were supporters of the “Right to Repair” legislation, which believes that Apple and other manufacturers must be legally required to make replacement parts, repair guides, and tools available to the public. Apple, for its part, has been pretty open in its wishes to oppose the “Right to Repair” legislation in the United States.

For now, it appears that Apple is not rolling out its kill switch to third-party repairs just yet. iFixit, for one, was still able to swap out the display and logic board of a 2018 MacBook Pro, and the laptop proved operational despite not being run through the Cupertino-based giant’s diagnostic software. The repair group, for their part, has noted that Apple’s upcoming repair restrictions might very well be a system to track parts used by their authorized networks.

“So why is Apple doing this? It could simply be a mechanism for tracking parts used by their authorized network, to check the quality or replacement rates. It’s possible that units with swapped parts may operate normally, but still report a failure in Apple diagnostic tests for having ‘unauthorized’ components installed—much like earlier units did on earlier versions of AST for third-party HDD/SSD, RAM, and batteries,” the group noted.