Apple is releasing Horizon Machines, its best kept secret which helps repair iPhone screens
Apple iPhone users know the ordeal all too well. The time when your iPhone falls out of your pocket or you drop it and the screen cracks. Then you have to wait for a ridiculously long time at a retail store to get it fixed. Well, the Cupertino-based tech giant has finally decided to loosen the reins on its iPhone repair machines. Until now, Apple had never formally acknowledged the Horizon Machine’s existence.
These microwave-sized machines have largely been a secret. They’ve been primarily located in its company retail stores around the world and in a handful of third-party repair centers. But with repair wait times growing at some of its busiest retail stores, the multinational tech company will supply about 400 authorized third-party repair centers in 25 countries. Hopefully the target will be met by the tech company before the year ends. That figure represents about 8 percent of Apple’s 4,800 authorized service providers worldwide.
The company also indicated that the Horizon Machine wasn’t just designed to overcome the trickiest repair problems that smaller repair shops would have trouble with. Rather, it was designed to create the perfect repair. With the right Apple parts and a calibration system that matches your iPhone to what it was like when it was brand new. Kyle Wiens is the CEO of online repair service iFixit which has been a driving force behind calls for Apple to make it easier for people to repair their own products.
To be fair, consumers can get their iPhones fixed at any old mall repair kiosk but doing so will usually void the Apple warranty. Fixing cracked screens may seem like small potatoes, but it’s a multi billion-dollar global business. The move is also a major shift for Apple which has traditionally kept a vice-like grip on official repair services for its products. The company had previously restricted use of its so-called Horizon Machine to its nearly 500 retail stores and mail-in repair centers. It has guarded its design closely.
Reuters reports that the Horizon Machine, which mends the broken screens, was previously restricted from being distributed to over 500 retail stores by Apple. But recent “right to repair” bills in eight U.S. states may have forced Apple’s hand. While Apple denies pressure from legislation, it never formally acknowledged the machine’s existence until now. Initial roll out to authorized service providers will start at about 200 machines — which is about 4% of Apple’s 4,800 worldwide spots. The company plans to double that figure by the end of the year. “We’ve been on a quest to expand our reach,” said Brian Naumann, senior director of service operations at Apple. He said repair wait times have grown at some of the company’s busiest retail stores.
Pilot testing started a year ago. In addition to Miami, a few machines already are operating at third-party repair centers in the Bay Area, London, Shanghai and Singapore. Also, shops in some countries where Apple has no retail presence will be early recipients, including locations in Colombia, Norway and South Korea.
However, Apple did not disclose how much these retailers are paying for the Horizon Machine.