Apple fights tooth and nail against ‘right to repair’ laws

“It’s no secret that the tech industry really hates third-party repairs, whether they’re in the form of an unlicensed business, or just a device owner tinkering with their own property,” Kaloyan C. writes for phoneArena. “In a bid to combat them, Apple, along with several other tech companies, is heavily opposing a set of so-called ‘right to repair’ bills in eight American states, which would require easy access to tools and knowledge regarding electronic device repairs.”

“One such case is a Nebraska bill, known as LB67 or the Fair Repair Act, which is scheduled to be debated this Thursday. If passed, it will become the first such measure in the United States,” C. writes. “If LB67 becomes law, it would require tech companies such as Apple to make their diagnostic tools and service manuals publicly available to consumers and repair shops alike.”

“Apple is spearheading the campaign against the bill, and in doing so uses scary and misleading rhetoric, such as claiming Nebraska will become a ‘mecca for bad actors,’ and that passing the bill ‘would make it very easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska,'” C. writes. “The company appears to have concerns regarding its intellectual property, as the act would require tech companies to freely share previously non-public information, even though the text of the proposal explicitly states the following: ‘Nothing in the Fair Repair Act shall be construed to require an original equipment manufacturer to divulge a trade secret.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

As we wrote yesterday:

Using authorized channels is the only way to ensure you are getting genuine Apple parts and that the repair will be done to the right specifications. With so many second-hand smartphones, for example, being sold and re-sold, how are buyers to know their battery is the genuine part and that it was correctly installed? How safe are would these smartphones be to have on airplanes, for example?

Certainly it can be dangerous to mishandle/damage lithium batteries during DYI repairs and the results can injure not just the repairer.

What if somebody’s half-assed DIY battery installation burns down an apartment building at 3am or sets fire to a plane in flight? When even Samsung can’t fix their own batteries correctly, we doubt every single Joe and Jane Sixpack would be able to manage a perfect battery installation every single time. It only takes one mistake to cause a tragedy.

SEE ALSO:
Right to repair: Why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple – March 6, 2017
Right-to-Repair is ridiculous – February 16, 2017
Apple said to fight ‘Right to Repair’ legislation – February 15, 2017

52 Comments

    1. Very simple: legislation should say that if a product is not repairable by the user or a 3rd party repair shop, then the product must be biodegradable or the product must be recycled by the manufacturer when it no longer works.

      We have to stop converting the world into toxic landfills. Right to repair doesn’t have to be complicated by artificial categories or past practice. If Apple wants to be greedy and sell disposable products, fine, then Apple can take care of the recycling. In this day and age, manufacturers of disposable plastic junk should be taxed to oblivion. Everything could be recycled if it wasn’t for the unfettered greed of companies that just don’t care. Those of you living in manicured gated communities should get out sometime and see what a mess that ewaste is today. It is out of control.

  1. I am compelled to repair things — I have been a backyard mechanics and general maintenance dabbler since I was a kid. Not only does repair often save a lot of money, but it also avoids prematurely sending appliances and other devices into the waste stream. As a result, I greatly appreciate devices that were designed for maintainability and I loathe designs that break because of a poor/cheap design (e.g., plastic boss in the load path) or force you to disassemble other systems to obtain access.

    That said, some items are less conducive to maintenance and repair than others. And we always need to consider the potential unintended consequences of a law before enacting it. What are the potential unintended consequences of a “right to repair” law? It is necessary to understand all of the details of the proposed law in order to assess the potential impacts. One concern of mine is that companies might be forced to make suboptimal design decisions in order to satisfy the law. We need to understand the fundamental issues – what is the law trying to fix – and ensure that the law addressed valid issues while minimizing adverse effects.

    For example, the main computer in modern cars is designed as a replaceable unit in modern cars, and it is generally rather expensive. I have never heard of an option to replace a card or a component on the computer board. Would the law affect this? Would the design have to change to facilitate maintenance (e.g., ZIF sockets rather than soldered-on or BGA components)?

    In most modern electronics, the components are not marked (e.g., microprocessor part number, resistor value/power rating/percent, etc. That makes them very difficult to troubleshoot and repair. Schematics are provided for a few major appliances (inside clothes washers and dryers, for instance, even though most people don’t know that), but not for the majority of appliances. Should manufacturers be required to release schematics to assist in troubleshooting and repair?

    Long story short, I am very much in favor of being able to repair devices. But I am also cautious about the potential impact of the unintended consequences of new laws.

  2. While I wouldn’t take my Apple products to a third party, it’s the product owner’s right to do so. I’m not sure how that right precludes Apple to make tools and schematics available to the repair shops.

    If you dig deep enough, I’ll bet you find Microsoft or Samsung behind this as an attempt to gain access to information.

  3. Here you go:
    Apple makes it’s money by iterating devices ad they want you to buy a new iPhone, Mac, etc every couple of years. The last thing they want is for you to have an easily upgradeable device that you can keep for years.
    I think this is on of the primary reasons Apple replaced the Mac Pro Tower with That Damn Cylinder™️. A 2010-11 era Mac Pro can easily be upgraded to SSDs, newer and better GPUs, USB 3, and even CPUs in minutes for far less than a new computer. An overpriced, glued shut iMac 5K is a throwaway device that is already outdated the day it rolls off the line in China. An overpriced, glued shut Apple MacBook Pro has likewise been morphed into a throwaway device destined for a third world recycling pile.

    1. because of the complexity of many devices, even with manuals, without appropriate training, (Which should not be cheap if this were to happen) Many people are going to be really ticked when Joe fixit destroys their favorite device, loses all their data. Then they are going to have to do what needed to be done in the first place, get it replaced through appropriate Apple or other authorized dealers for various products. If its under warranty or not, still can be replaced or upgraded.. Some things do lend themselves to some level of repair, but most of the time, they get tossed too. Microwaves, other appliances.. the repair costs in many cases are to steep in comparison to replacement.

      As far as E-Waste. many many companies and some cities have had electronic recycling programs for years, its up to the owners to bring their dead or replaced devices and appliances to the appropriate places for recycle.

      1. The problem is that most waste is resold a number of times and still usually ends up in the third world getting burned by uninformed people making a subsistence living.

        India has workers with asbestosis as US companies send old ships there to be scrapped. There is no EPA or OSHA and nobody wears a mask.

  4. MDM, you’re either missing the point or on the wrong side of this debate.

    3rd party repairs are important if consumers are to have choice. Choice is important in a democratic, capitalistic system regardless of your political leanings. It’s a non-partisan issue. When Apple refuses to release high quality parts and schematics to repair their hardware, they are doing so for 2 obvious reasons.

    One, is profit.

    Nothing is wrong with profit.

    But Apple is the most profitable multinational in the history of the world, right? They show no evidence of lowering the cost of their hardware and reducing prices to consumers and they like to park their money far, far away from where it might benefit the country and state from which it comes. They’re paying some dividends if you want to own the stock, but you should not have to loan a company your money to get a fair lifetime from the products they sell. Again, all legal, no strong judgment here, just noting the facts.

    The Right to Repair legislation would not hamper anything at Apple other than their hardware devices would last longer, there might a small dip in profits, and people would have choice and reasonable market forces to determine the cost of repair –vs– the cost of buying a new Apple bauble. Right now, the playing field is slanted heavily toward buying new on anything that’s out of warranty, extended or otherwise because Apple is control the cost of a quality repair, as well as controlling OEM parts.

    The second reason Apple is fighting this legislation tooth and nail is multilayered. Yes, there is liability when it comes to batteries and chargers and anything that could harm person or property. Fair enough. But that can be figured out and Apple has the finest, highest paid lawyers in the world. I have full confidence the terms of sale of said parts can be done in such a way that would protect Apple well enough.

    But what many miss in this particular issue is the insanely freakish Jobsian corporate philosophy that still says, “This is not your Mac. It’s OUR Mac. You are basically leasing it and we will tell you if and how it can be repaired, for how much and when it is ‘obsolete.’ You cannot open OUR Mac without OUR permission. If you do so, we will punish you by walking away no matter what you find when you open it up. We will put crazy, tiny, unusual screws in the cases that we will also lock down with glue and solder.”

    There’s more, of course, but you get the drift.

    Almost all of the evidence of the last decade of hardware design from Apple indicates that they don’t want to design computers that last 10 years anymore. With iDevices rakes in monstrous profits along the lines of 70% of Apple’s global profits, the Mac devision has been getting memos. Memos along the lines of designed obsolescence.

    Memos that say things like:

    “Hey, we make the best fracking computer in the world and are able to charge more than twice what others do. We can’t have them lasting forever and innovation will only nudge people to upgrade to new if it’s actually innovative. We need to start building computers that last 3-4 years and if we make ‘em un-openable, unrepairable, control ALL of the OEM parts and the labor costs to repair, we can teach our customers to expect buy more of OUR Macs, every 3-4 years, rather than the 7-10 years that they used to last. Note to Mac Division, we need disposable Macs and a much shorter repurchase cycle.”

    And that’s how we moved away from iMacs that had magnets holding in the glass and replaced them with super skinny glued on glass. That’s why we started soldering all RAM onto logic boards because Apple controls all of the logic boards at Chinese labor prices. And that’s why we made the OS free and completely easy to accidentally upgrade an older machine.

    All of these things and more contribute to the goal of Apple wanting “Apple’s” Macs to have half the lifecycle they used to have and why they will use their lawyers and tens of millions of dollars to defeat Right To Repair laws.

    And that’s just a few reasons why we, as consumers who believe that when we buy a piece of hardware that we actually OWN that machine and should have choice as to where to upgrade or repair it with the highest quality parts available.

    BTW, having run a 3rd Party repair center for a decade or so, I can say that the diagnostic procedure of 3rd Party repair centers is often superior to Apple’s. Apple doesn’t really care what has failed on your machine. They own all the pieces on the game board at waaaay below wholesale prices and just keep replacing parts till everything works. There’s very little intuitive or investigative testing that goes on a Depot or whatever factory the device is sent to. That’s a legitimate repair technique, of course, but if 3rd party repair centers had a level playing field, we could get repaired computers back to clients in 24 hours or less, —vs— the AppleStore’s “3-7 days” window they often quote.

    The Right to Repair benefits ALL owners of Apple iDevices and only slightly dings profits in the most profitable company in the history of the world. The whole “authorized” repair center BS is an invention of Apple’s. It’s just a word that Apple imbued with meaning that some simple legislation could render meaningless and more consumer friendly.

    MDM, I hope you’ll reconsider your position on this. This is not about Uncle Harold catching the garage on fire. This is about qualified, trained professionals getting access to the same toolkit as Apple. You need to get on the right side of this issue.

  5. I believe a good compromise would be for the government to impose a reasonable warrantee period like 3 years. Apple of late has lowered it production quality so as to bump up their Services business. IE make it break after the included 1 year warrantee so people will have to buy you pricy 2-3 year one. I never used to get Apple care because I knew the computer would last longer than it. Now it is a must.

    1. The European Union does that today. Consumers have a 2 year legal guarantee for just about all physical items sold in the EU. If it fails in 2 years, the consumer has the right to get his money back, period. http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/guarantees-returns/faq/index_en.htm

      It doesn’t help the home tinkerer with repairs, of course, but it is one way to stop manufacturers from making shoddy disposable junk. Of course, this is one of the “unreasonable bureaucratic legislation” excuses that greedy US corporations whine about constantly, an greedhead sentiment that asswipes like botvinnik repeat ad nauseum. Now Apple is one of them. They care only about profit, not about sustainability, and not about consumer rights.

  6. You do have a choice already.

    If a product company doesn’t want you or a third party repairing their devices, you have a choice NOT to buy it.

    You also have the CHOICE of getting off your tuchus and spending your own considerable time and lack of engineering talent to build your own products. Then you can repair as much as you want, since you made it. That is your choice.

      1. I didn’t make any comparison to a doctor, but you did. You’re more than welcome to demand that your heart surgeon train someone down the road to do his job, just so you can save money and have ‘choice’. Good luck with that.

    1. Under your “choice” model, then would you agree that monopolies are acceptable? After all, that would increase profitability for the one company in business and consumers would still have the choice to go without. Brilliant way to run a market, indeed.

    2. Sure that would work if we then get rid of the patent system that stops me from building my own iPhone from parts that any company can build. If Apple wants the protection on the 1 side then consumers should have protection on the other side.

      1. Thank you!
        So many Ayn Rand worshippers forget that no one builds their product or company in a vacuum. They hire workers educated at the public’s expense, their materials are brought in on public roads, they are protected from rampaging hordes (or there aren’t any in the first place) by the military/police, and so much more.

        Stop pretending that any single person/corporation is an island.

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