Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lobbying Against Right to Repair

Jason Koebler (via Kay-Kay Clapp, Hacker News):

In recent weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for CompTIA, a trade organization that represents big tech companies, have been privately meeting with legislators in California to encourage them to kill legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics, Motherboard has learned.


The lobbyists brought an iPhone to the meetings and showed lawmakers and their legislative aides the internal components of the phone. The lobbyists said that if improperly disassembled, consumers who are trying to fix their own iPhone could hurt themselves by puncturing the lithium-ion battery, the sources, who Motherboard is not naming because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said.

The argument is similar to one made publicly by Apple executive Lisa Jackson in 2017 at TechCrunch Disrupt, when she said the iPhone is “too complex” for normal people to repair them.


Though Apple hasn’t publicly talked much about repair in recent months and years, Motherboard reported in March that Apple has quietly approached independent repair companies with a new program called “Apple Genuine Parts Repair,” which would allow a select few companies to purchase repair parts from Apple with few restrictions. The slides associated with the program, obtained by Motherboard, suggest that Apple could comply with right to repair legislation without much burden.

Rory Prior:

Apple’s stance against making hardware user repairable seriously negates all their ambitions towards being a ‘green’ company. Recycling hardware for raw materials is hugely wasteful (in the rare instances it even happens) vs. extending useful life.


Update (2019-06-03): Nick Heer:

I find it frustrating that Apple — and others — are working so hard to kill legislation rather than trying to find a middle ground closer to what they’re already doing. There are certainly components in a highly-miniaturized device that would not be sensible for most users to repair or replace themselves — though I do think battery and screen replacements should be doable by customers. (And they are, by the way; I have done both for friends’ devices.) Of course, it is less freeing that so much of our computing these days is obfuscated and less welcoming to tinkering, but that may be a price we must pay to have devices that feel less like an assemblage of parts.

Still, I can see nothing but good for users in helping third parties get the right tools and parts to do these repairs.

Mark Munz:

I think the repairability (and increased longevity of hardware) should be part of report on environment.

Apple should not fear their computers lasting a long time. People will upgrade BECAUSE OF THAT REASON.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

[…] Apple lobbies against right to repair legislation in the United States and Canada — often with ludicrous arguments — internal documents leaked to Jason Koebler of […]

Apple probably considers that servicing one of their products is like a Formula One pit stop. They just don't see the 20-mile traffic congestion before the pit lane.

Niall O'Mara

I can see how it would be futile to try and make iPhones user-repairable - particularly now they are sealed for water-resistance. But Apple should make of an effort with Macs. I recall being amazed at the thought that went into allowing ease of access to components in Macs. Now thin and small is the rule and for no good reason (for iMacs & Minis at least)

While normally I'd be critical of Apple, looking around town at all the iPhone repair places and hearing about the very variable reliability of such places I can kind of get where they're coming from. There's already lots of authorized dealers who will do varying degrees of repairs - although my experience with the phone and watch is that they just mail it back to Apple if it fails various diagnostic test.

The nice thing about the unauthorized repair places is that they'll try and repair things Apple won't. (Say a charging port where a pin is broken on the phone) The downside is that Apple's devices aren't exactly easy to open up and repair. Trying to repair them can often cause other problems. I wish Apple would simply make their machines more repairable but the reality is that flip side of thin and light is difficult to take apart and repair.

>I can see how it would be futile to try and make iPhones user-repairable

These laws would not force Apple to change the design of the devices, merely to publish service manuals, to sell replacement parts at far prices, and to make diagnostic software publicly available. I get why Apple doesn't want this (they want to sell you a new iPhone when your old one breaks), but as a customer of Apple, there's zero reason to be against these laws.

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