Computer Repair Industry: Dying?

Here’s everything about the computer repair industry dying:

The computer repair industry is not dying.

Many computer repair companies and workers are changing aspects of how they do business, but the industry as a whole seems to be growing proportionally with the sale of personal electronic devices.

That means that computer repair is here to stay.

So if you want to learn all about the computer repair industry dying, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Computer Repair Industry: Dying? (Everything to Know)

What Is the Computer Repair Industry? (3 Models)

How are we going to talk about the death of the computer repair industry without first laying out some boundaries?

What is the computer repair industry?

What does it include?

How does it work?

The truth is that there’s a lot more to computer repair than going into a mechanic’s shop and getting your hard drive replaced.

Computer repair deals with software and data at least as often as it deals with hardware, and most computer repair resources offer help with a wide range of problems (even including educational resources).

As someone who has worked in computer repair in multiple roles and at different levels, I can tell you that the vast majority of people using repair resources need a lesson in how to use the technology more often than they need an actual repair.

In order to really take apart the computer repair industry, I’m going to have to cover a lot of ground.

So, let’s make it a little easier and break this up into smaller, easier-to-understand sections.

#1 Local Computer Repair Shops

This might be what you envisioned when you read the phrase “computer repair industry.”

There are local computer repair shops all over the world.

You can take your device into the shop, and the expectation is that they can identify and fix anything that is wrong.

Local shops usually fix PCs and mobile devices.

Plenty of them branch out into other facets of repair, including Macs, TVs, monitors, and any number of other personal devices.

The things that local repair shops usually do a lot less of are data recovery and server management and repair.

You can absolutely find some local shops that delve into these aspects of computer repair, but it’s a little less common.

The point is that these shops handle a wide range of jobs, but for the most part, they cater to individuals rather than major businesses.

They might also provide support for other small, local businesses, but you’re not expecting your local repair shop to operate on the same scale as an HP warranty repair depot.

#2 Help Desk Support

Help desk support looks quite a bit different from local repair shops.

If you have ever called a tech support hotline, then you were dealing with help desk support.

The concept here is that technicians are available to provide on-demand support for people who need it.

You’ll find a lot of different incarnations of help desk support.

Many large companies have an internet help desk team.

So, if you work for Allstate Insurance and your computer has a problem, there’s probably a hotline you can call that is managed solely by and for Allstate employees.

Or, you can call the hotline from a manufacturer.

If you have an iPhone, you can call AppleCare to get help.

No matter who runs the help desk, the concept is more or less the same.

The technician you contact (be it by phone, chat, email, or otherwise) can help you troubleshoot the problem without having any direct access to your device.

Since a lot of problems are software related, the help desk technician can often help you identify and resolve software problems.

They might also determine that your issue is a hardware problem, in which case they will help you arrange for a physical repair.

Obviously, they can’t reach through the phone and replace broken parts for you, so help desk support systems often partner with depot repair services (covered in the next section).

Help desk support is probably the most frequently used type of computer repair in the world right now because it’s such a convenient way to deal with a wide range of computer issues.

#3 Mid-Sized and Large Computer Repair Companies

If you’re getting a computer repair, and it’s not from a help desk resource or a local repair shop, then you’re very likely dealing with a medium or large-size computer repair company.

This also comes in a lot of forms, so I’m going to make some distinctions for the sake of this conversation.

First, you have large companies that offer local computer repair.

Think in terms of the Geek Squad at Best Buy.

Even though Best Buy is a large company, many repairs are handled at the local store, and they more or less follow the local shop model.

What I’m really talking about here is the idea of depot repair.

Most major computer manufacturers have large-scale facilities where they handle warranty repairs in large numbers.

These depots range in size and scope, but the general model is pretty common.

You ship your computer to the repair facility.

Experts at the facility fix everything, and then your repaired device is shipped back to you.

One alternative version is that some companies will actually dispatch a contracted repair technician to your home to fix stuff, but that’s a lot less common.

For the most part, I’m talking about computer repairs that involve shipping.

Beyond that, the specifics vary a lot, but that’s not too important for today’s conversation.

Is the Computer Repair Industry Dying? (3 Aspects)

That covers the primary ways that you will run across the computer repair industry.

If you dig deeper, you can find plenty of exceptions to these three models and a nearly endless variety of computer repair business models.

But, I like to keep things simplified where I can, so I’m going to discuss these three models at length.

Let’s get back to the original question.

Is the whole industry dying?

No.

But, what about each individual form of repair?

Are any of these models dying?

Still, the answer is no, but it’s a lot more convoluted.

So, let’s look at each model a little more closely to see how they’re changing and why I’m not convinced that any of these three aspects of the repair industry are in any immediate danger.

#1 Local Computer Repair Shops

When was the last time you set foot in a local computer shop?

If it’s been a while, then you might not have any idea as to how the business and industry are looking these days.

We can make some speculations.

In general, computer technology has consistently improved in quality while dropping in price.

This trend has held for about 30 years now, and it looks like it will continue to hold for the foreseeable future.

What this means is that if your computer is already a few years old, it might seem cheaper and easier to replace it as opposed to repairing it when something goes wrong.

Considering this, you might think that local repair shops are in decline, but that’s actually not the case.

The numbers show that the local computer repair industry is actually growing right now, especially in terms of the number of technicians and their average pay.

Why is harder to answer, and I can offer two speculations.

First, local shops still offer help with software problems, and software problems aren’t going away.

So, when you have a problem with one of your devices, you might want to get it diagnosed before you consider replacing it.

Software fixes are usually a whole lot cheaper than replacing the device, so until you know you need a new device, it makes sense to explore options.

The other speculation I have has to do with computer performance.

Even though devices get more powerful every year, the urgent need to keep up with the latest developments seems to be in decline.

Do you have any devices that are more than two years old?

Do they run painfully slowly?

In most cases, the answer is no.

Older technology is doing a better job of keeping up with new software when compared to previous decades.

Because of that, it’s actually more worthwhile to fix your aging devices than it used to be.

Keep in mind that this is a qualitative analysis.

I can’t mathematically demonstrate that repair is more worthwhile.

It simply feels more worthwhile than it used to.

#2 Help Desk Support

The help desk industry looks very different from local computer repair shops, and that has a lot to do with emerging technologies and shifting industry standards.

First off, help desk is still very much a thing and in high demand.

People are calling into help centers as much as ever, and that likely won’t change.

What is changing is how companies deal with help desk demand.

There’s a big push to automate a lot of help desk support, and it’s producing interesting, if mixed, results.

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of websites offer the ability to talk to a chatbot for support.

Especially with major companies like Google, it seems like getting into a conversation with a living human being is harder than ever.

You can probably guess, but running help desk bots is a lot cheaper than paying technicians to manage calls or chat lines.

So, the incentive to automate is obviously there, and realistically, there are a lot of technology problems that can reliably be solved by bots.

But, even as companies are trying to offload as much as they can to the bots, the overall industry isn’t shifting as fast as you might expect.

People still prefer getting help from human experts, and that’s why overall, help desk hiring is not in decline.

The nature of help desk support is shifting, but it’s still a major industry, and there’s no evidence that it is going to die in the foreseeable future.

#3 Larger Computer Repair Companies

Last on the list is depot repair.

How does it look these days?

Well, it really can’t decline until and unless people stop buying computerized devices.

There are regulations that require manufacturers to provide warranty services and repair options for a number of years after a device is sold.

These vary by country and state, but in general, if you buy a device, you can expect some amount of support to remain available for a couple of years.

Even if your current device is dropped from the sales lineup, warranty services have to remain available according to those varying regulations.

Now, the length of time depends on the specific device and where you are, but all of this points to an inevitable conclusion.

Depot repair centers are more or less legally mandated.

Technically, manufacturers could find different ways to provide warranty services, but one way or another, the services have to exist.

It’s hard to imagine that companies are on the verge of finding something more efficient and cost-effective than depot repair centers.

So, for the foreseeable future, depot repair centers are going to be around, and how busy they are will really correspond to how many devices people are buying. 

According to Deloitte, consumer electronics sales are up, so you can expect repair depots to be hiring in order to keep up with the inevitable demand.

What Is Right to Repair?

This is a bit of a pivot, but it’s tough to discuss the computer repair industry without covering the right to repair.

This is a debated political topic right now where different factions are vying for different types of regulations.

Here’s the gist.

Computerized devices are very complicated, and repairing them isn’t always easy.

A lot of manufacturers try to make it difficult to swap or replace parts.

They have varying justifications for this.

Some say that these designs make the devices tougher and more reliable.

Others argue that too many unqualified people damage devices trying to swap parts or do at-home repairs and that they then have to eat the cost of cleaning up after mistakes.

You can scour the internet and find other rationalizations too.

The real point is that some devices are hard to fix by design.

The opposing faction argues that people have the right to fix a device that they own.

Therefore, these designs are unjust.

Regulations are still all over the place when it comes to the right to repair, but the most recent major change happened in 2021. 

Joe Biden signed an executive order that empowered the FTC to make a set of rules on the subject.

It’s hard to say exactly where the right to repair will take things in the coming years.

If regulations take the side of manufacturers, then you actually might see a major decline in computer repair.

If you see the FTC side with the proponents of a right to repair, then it could herald a new golden age for repair shops.

Most likely, we’ll land somewhere in the middle, and computer repair will continue to grow and adapt to the needs of the customer base.