Apple rolled out its proprietary Horizon screen repair machines to its 500 repair centers and stores three years ago when the iPhone 5 debuted. The machines have been shrouded in mystery, as the company never even formally acknowledged their existence. According to Reuters, some of those machines will be leaving the confines of Apple's walled gardens for new homes inside Best Buy stores and other locations around the world. Apple reportedly plans to send Horizon machines to "about 400 authorized third-party repair centers in 25 countries."
The move should reduce wait times for repair service at Apple retail locations, and allow iPhone owners in areas without an Apple store nearby to have their phones serviced instead of sending them through the mail. The company said the move is unrelated to the "right to repair" legislation gaining steam in states like Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York. Apple does not report how much of its revenues come from out-of-warranty repair services, but according to Reuters, analysts believe the figure is between $1 billion and $2 billion per year. Screen repair services cost $129 to $149 depending on the handset, a figure that dropped over time from the original price of $229.
Best Buy is the first retailer with access to the Horizon machines. A unit is already operational in Miami, and another is coming soon to a location in the Silicon Valley. While third-party repair centers have been able to replace iPhone screens for some time, the Horizon machine offers the only way to completely fix a phone when the fingerprint sensor behind the glass has been damaged.