Friday, August 25, 2023

Apple Supports California Right-to-Repair Bill

Jason Koebler (Hacker News, at the new 404 Media, Hacker News):

Apple told a California legislator that it is formally supporting a right to repair bill in California, a landmark move that suggests big tech manufacturers understand they have lost the battle to monopolize repair, and need to allow consumers and independent repair shops to fix their own electronics.


This is a landmark shift in policy from Apple, the most powerful electronics manufacturer in the world and, historically, one of the biggest opponents of right to repair legislation nationwide. It means, effectively, that consumers have won. The news was first reported by TechCrunch and iFixit.


The legislation would require manufacturers “to make available, on fair and reasonable terms, to product owners, service and repair facilities, and service dealers, the means, as described, to effect the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of the product.” This means manufacturers have to make the same diagnostics, tools, and parts available to the public as they make available to their own authorized repair professionals.

Nick Heer:

If you are interested in how SB 244 evolved over time, I have uploaded a comparison between the bill text introduced and the latest version. One update that caught my eye is that, according to the definition on line 56, a “desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or cellphone” are all considered “general” or “all-purpose” computers.

Sam Bergin:

The bill states that manufactures will need to provide the same tools and parts that they use internally for repair. Meaning logic boards, major part assemblies, and the software needed to pair new parts into the system. Like most manufactures today, they only swap out major (expensive) parts. They certainly don’t do component level repair, and they don’t use schematics or board view PDFs. Access to individual board components and documentation are the things truly needed if device owners are to stand a chance at having reasonably-priced and successful repair experiences.

John Gruber:

I don’t find Apple’s support for this legislation surprising, but most people commenting on it do.


Providing all the necessary documentation, tools, and parts for every new device the company makes is a pain in Apple’s corporate ass, and I think that’s why Apple resisted such legislation. From their perspective any such law is an unnecessary annoyance. But it’s undeniably reasonable for there to be consumer protection laws, and if there are going to be Right to Repair laws that cover computing devices, those laws ought to be good ones. And the plain language of Apple’s letter is that the company thinks this is a good one.


If Apple says they support California’s SB 244, it probably just means they actually support it.

Juli Clover:

California’s bill also says that service and repair facilities that are not authorized repair providers for a company must disclose if they’re using replacement parts that are used or not from the manufacturer. That means an independent iPhone repair shop in California would be required to source parts from Apple or to inform customers that device repairs are done with counterfeit components or used parts.

Further, the bill has a component that prevents manufacturers from being required to make tools, parts, and documentation available for any component that would disable or override antitheft security measures, which would encompass features like Face ID.

Independent repair shops already have the option of purchasing components from Apple, but have complained that Apple forces them to sign invasive contracts. As for the Self Service Repair Program, the kits and components that Apple sells are not much more affordable than simply getting a repair from an Apple Store.


There’s the loophole right there.

Apple is currently electronically serializing every component in their devices, including the battery for “anti-theft” purposes. Apple has already serialized the lid angle sensor on MacBooks, meaning you can’t replace the simple magnetic switch without going through Apple or an ASP.


Pretty soon, the iPhone back glass, USB-C port, and the individual keyboard key caps will be serialized for “anti-theft.”


2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Apple will find a way around this.

Louis Rossman might be a bit blunt, but his first hand experience on this topic is valuable

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