Apple fights against ‘right to repair’

“Apple sees climate change as a problem that can be ‘solved’ through new technologies,” Arielle Duhaime-Ross reports for VICE News. “Because of this — and it’s obvious need for continued profits — Apple continues to reject the idea that the company could meet its environmental goals sooner if it made its products last longer, and gave its customers the ability to easily repair them on their own.”

Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson “also defended Apple’s history of making products that are hard to repair. Allowing customers to repair Apple products themselves ‘sounds like an easy thing to say,’ she said. But ‘technology is really complex; it is sophisticated to make it work, to ensure that you have security and privacy, [and] that somebody isn’t giving you bad parts,” Duhaime-Ross reports. “Because of this, Apple won’t be taking a ‘right to repair’ approach to meeting its environmental goals. ‘All those things mean that you want to have certified repairs,’ Jackson said. ‘I think trying to pretend that we can sort of make it easy to repair the product, and that you get the product that you think you’re buying — that you want — isn’t the answer.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

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.

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      1. Yes, you do own the hardware after a phone is paid for, it isn’t a lease (otherwise you’d be obligated to return it after your contract was up)’. I am all for Apple being a green company, that’s terrific. To presume to take responsibility by taking away my option to make my own choices, that I am not so keen on. Not all of us are cave people that are trying to charge our phones in the microwave.

  1. The hardware lasts for a long time. iPhones that are ten years old technically still run fine. The problem is that devices are increasingly defined by the software they run. More advanced software needs more advanced hardware, but even if you put aside adding new features the biggest problem is maintaining security on devices that are increasingly old. Windows XP has fundamental issues that limited how secure it could ever be, but how much money must Microsoft have spent keeping that updated on old devices? Apple devices stay updated far longer than those from other manufacturers (we’ve seen how android devices get launched without the latest OS and then never get updated). We’re no longer in a world of purely hardware based products that have a fixed set of functionality within an essentially closed system.

    1. Please show me an iPhone from 2007 that is still in use.

      Apple, like all corporations primarily seeking to maximize profit, designs its products so that something must force you to replace it in a relatively short period of time. That period of time differs by user, but a decade in the portable computer industry is at least 3 or more life cycles to most users. In the last decade, Apple has released about 7 major iterations of its iPhone (depends on how you count derivative products).

      1. I have a 3G from 2008 that is still in use. It isn’t running iOS 10, obviously, and can no longer be updated in any official way, but it is still fully functional, if not fully web compliant.

        1. I have a 2G from 2007.. it cost about $700. Still works as a phone, camera, plants vs. zombies..

          then a iPhone4.. also about $700
          then 4s.. about $700..
          tried a 6th gen iPod touch.. about $225 ( the screen fell off )
          bought a repaired 6s Plus for $235 on ebay..

          can’t afford to plunk down $700 every year for a new phone.
          It seems better to buy a fixed up iPhone at a discount, knowing that some functions might be lost. ( touchID doesn’t work with replaced screens )

      2. I haven’t seen an iPhone 4S or earlier for at least 2 years now.

        Last year BGR published this breakdown for USAGE:

        Broken down by model, here are the most used iPhone devices as of Saturday, February 6 [2016].

        iPhone 6 – 35.06%
        iPhone 5s – 19.1%
        iPhone 6s – 13.73%
        iPhone 6 Plus – 8.54%
        iPhone 5 – 7.64%
        iPhone 5c – 5.87%
        iPhone 6s Plus – 4.27%
        iPhone 4s – 4.03%
        iPhone 4 – 1.74%
        Older iPhones – .03%

        Other data including iPad device SALES market share indicates that Apple’s most popular iOS device sold is the iPhone 5S — obviously, because it’s the cheapest current model.

      1. But Cochise’s email illustrates a point. Most people are like him. Most people are incapable of fixing their own tv. Of those that could, most probably don’t want to take the time. Why should a company jump through hoops so that owners and amateur shops can be able to repair complex products.

        1. Because Apple claims to be an environmentally responsible and customer-delighting company. It was before, and this stuff isn’t rocket science. Replacement of commodity components doesn’t require special training. Apple is just being run into the ground by bean counters who are pushing as hard as possible to make people buy AppleCare and iCloud subscriptions. The latest Macs with a “Pro” label are sealed boxes & have proprietary internal connectors ensuring that one can’t even upgrade the SSD easily. That is just anti-user as can be. Commodity components, which as we all know do not have limited life, need to be user replaceable as they used to be.

          I wish Apple would walk the talk. They can’t claim to be environmentally responsible and then sell disposable hardware.

    1. Cochise, this law is not just about individuals repairing their own stuff. It is really more about enabling third party businesses to engage in lucrative device repair activities. Besides, I do fix my own cars and appliances on a regular basis, and I am damn good at it. It saves me a lot of money. I have also upgraded computers over the years with processors, co-processors, expansion cards, memory, HDDs, etc. So I have a great deal of sympathy with those who desire upgradeable and maintainable hardware. I am still using a mid-2007 iMac at home. Runs great with its new 2TB HDD.

      But we all need to keep in mind that the abbreviated names used to label legislation does not always reflect the true intent/impact of the law or regulation. For instance, the “Patriot Act”…was not about patriotism. Need I say more to get the idea across? The names are used to influence uninformed voters.

      So I encourage everyone to actually read this “right to repair” legislation. Identify the businesses or people who stand to gain the most or lose the most if it were enacted. Cross reference those lists with the money flowing into the political system to influence the vote. Then consider how the legislation might benefit or harm consumers like you. Only then will you be an informed voter.

      As far as the article by Arielle Duhaime-Ross/VICE News, its premise is fundamentally flawed. First, Apple devices do tend to last a long time. Second, Apple wants to take back those items for recycling and makes it easy to do so. Third, the ability for people to repair their own devices will not necessarily help the environment. For instance, I suspect that many people who toss the old battery into the trash after installing a new one. In contrast, Apple or an approved service center is far more likely to recycle or properly dispose of old components.

    1. Precis!

      Sustainability goals at Apple ring hollow if it continues to treat customers as sheep who cannot be trusted to configure/upgrade/modify/repair their own hardware. Voiding the warranty but allowing personal property freedom is a reasonable compromise.

      Likewise, I have long wondered why helmets and buckled seat belts are required by law, at least in some places. Such nanny state rules are just continuing to allow the gene pool to continue to be polluted by the people too dumb to protect themselves. It is perfectly understandable to require automakers to meet safety standards or for motorcycle dealers to have to offer helmets for sale, but why are we using tax money to prevent idiots from collecting their own Darwin awards?

    2. Most jurisdictions limit the degree to which a company may limit its warranties. See Australia for litigation concerning Apple’s duty to stand behind third-party repairs by unauthorized repair facilities.

      Beyond the legal liability issues, there is the public perception problem if someone is killed or injured (even if only financially) by a modified Apple product. It is less of a PR hit to prevent bad repairs by preventing any repairs at all.

      By the way, helmet and seatbelt laws don’t exist to protect the idiots who won’t wear one, but to protect the taxpayers who would otherwise end up paying their hospital and long-term care bills.

  2. I have a 17″ MacBook Pro which is officially obsolete and an official Apple repair centre cannot repair it if it goes wrong. The problem is that it works fine, just the odd strange thing happens now and then. However, I could quite easily replace the battery and have replaced the hard disk a few times now as I have needed more capacity. These are simple and easy repairs that anyone can do on this particular device (and on the other MBPs of its generation). So what have Apple got against this level of repair? I may baulk at having to replace the screen or the motherboard but as Apple refuses to supply the parts anyway, that might be a good hint to replace the machine.

  3. Just recently had the drive in my late 2012 iMac crater. Took it to an official service center to have a non-warranty replacement. The tech ended up having the display de-laminate itself from the glass. It would be really nice if Apple provided a little door, just like the memory, to have a user undo 3-4 screws, and pop the bad drive out with no risk of damage to the display. A 10 minute job in an older MacBook Pro.

  4. there’s a distinction between making it easy to repair and intentionally making it difficult to repair. For example, the non-standard screws. It doesn’t require any special design trade-offs to use a standard screw. And using glue to attach important parts like the screen. Just after the warranty ran out, my iPod touch screen started falling off because the glue weakened. Yeah, I screwed it up by trying to re-glue the screen back on. It didn’t work. The glue messed up the screen and it doesn’t stay attached. and so now its attached with scotch tape.. which looks terrible. Just saying that an attachment method better designed than glue would last longer and be easier to repair/replace that screen.

  5. I am a certified apple tech and I see no reason to make things so hard to work on. How hard is it to replace a hard drive or memory? Not that hard. They put the time into the design a product beautifully, they can also put in the time to make parts easily swappable. The iMac is the best example, no reason to have it glued together, magnets would be fine like the older models.

    Now for an excuse on Apples part! The first iMac that sat on stand like todays models the back lifted off and I believe I recalling seeing a lot of problems because it had easy access and people damaging their equipment. So people are idiots and only certified people should be doing this work I guess.

    Could Apple open a public site so you can become certified for your computer and order parts for it if needed? This would have to be after Apple makes things easily swappable, because they are far from that today.

    And proprietary! There is no reason for Apple to add another pin or do stupid things like that to make things proprietary. I am 100% against Apple on this!

  6. “Authorized” channels are a scam.

    Apple is not authorizing anyone other than Apple and some pre-existing outlets. And they’re killing most of the non-Apple Authorized Repair places. We used to have 4 in our fair town and 6 years after the AppleStore arrived, we only have the AppleStore.

    The Right to Repair also includes the right to have access to OEM parts.

    C’mon, MDM. Don’t fall for this “authorized” BS that Apple has you buying into. It’s just a scam to monopolize the entire repair market. You guys are smarter than that and you’re on the wrong side of this issue.

    Competition in the repair space will keep Apple honest and prices lower. You believe in competition, right?

    1. Right on. Sad to see so many commenters covering for Apple’s latest money grab. If you’re on Apple’s side you must also believe that you shouldn’t be able to take your car to your local mechanic, but only to the dealership to pay monopoly pricing. The specter of exploding iPhone batteries is a total straw man. Most people don’t want to fix their own tech, but they want the option to pay a competent 3rd party to REPAIR their device, not REPLACE it like Apple mostly does.

      1. Well said, Nick. I completely agree. This move is based on greed and that freakish opinion Apple holds that we are merely “leasing” their hardware devices and have no right to do with them as we please.

        I owned and operated one of those extremely competent 3rd Party repair shops for over a decade and we offered our customers a wonderfully personable alternative to the sterile and freakishly friendly Church of Apple stores. I knew other owners of similar places of business and when the AppleStore would tell someone “3-5 days” for a repair, they nearly giggled to hear us say “24 hours is the longest repair time we’ve got.”

        It’s not easy competing with the world’s largest publicly traded company, a global multinational that has lawyers pouring coffee for the top brass. But we were able to because we offered something different, something (often) better than what Apple cared to do.

        Now don’t get me wrong, the AppleStore is a glorious place to buy an Apple device. That’s when you really want to go to “the dealer,” as it were. But imagine if you were forced to go the dealer when you wanted new tires, a battery, or an oil change? Do you really believe that would be cheaper than going to Costco, or Sears, or Jiffy Lube, or just a local independent guy?

        That’s why free and equal access to OEM parts is so important. Can you imagine the auto industry today if Toyota would not sell a 3rd party repair shop a water pump or starter?

        I’ve watched MDM evolve over the years, but I’m really surprised that they’re missing the issue here. This is not about an end user trying to fix something reasonably complex. That’s just a very small part of the legislation’s intent. It’s about creating a fair and open market place where expensive items can be repaired and not get tossed in trash heap that 3rd world kids crawl through looking for something of value.

        There is nothing in Apple’s past, and definitely not present behavior that indicates they want their devices to last a long time and be repairable. Just the opposite. They’ve seen the iPhone generate masses of revenue because people are so eager to get a new one every 2-3 years. So they’re making disposable laptops and desktops that are glued and sealed and soldered into obsolescence. You can keep believing the party line that this somehow makes for a better user experience, or you can just look at the facts and conclude that this is just good, old fashioned, totally transparent designed obsolesce.

        Apple is not in business of repairing their products. They are in the business of selling new and beautiful hardware. However, they still want to control the business of repair for this very reason. If they control the vast majority of the repair market, they also control when people will buy new.

        MDM, have another conversation at your next staff meeting and consider looking at this issue differently? It’s never easy to admit when we might have made a bad call, but there’s another side to this issue that is much more interesting than towing the Apple line here. You guys are too intelligent to keep ignoring that.

    1. They aren’t trying to “solve the weather,” which is a short-term phenomenon.

      They are trying to minimize the impact that they, their suppliers, and the industries over which they have influence will have on the climate over the course of decades. They agree with the scientific consensus that humans are the dominant cause for the observed rise in global greenhouse gas levels and the inevitable rise in global temperatures that goes with it. They believe that the long-term health of their business depends on doing what is possible to avoid doing avoidable harm to the environment in which their customers live.

      Clearly you do not agree with Apple or the scientific community. That is your right. Even so, there is no logical way to argue that humans are not contributing to warming without denying basic scientific assumptions like the fact that CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases. Even if humans cannot stop global warming, they can mitigate the rate at which it is happening.

      1. Quit the crap TxUser. Apple cares not a whit about the environment beyond using it as a marketing tool for their bottom line, they shred millions of perfectly serviceable devices: As far as the global warming fraud, if it was actually a problem, we’d be in the middle of a Manhattan Project to build as many nuclear reactors as possible. NO other clean energy source is anywhere near capable of providing for our current needs. The environmentalist religious fanatic hatred of nuclear energy is as far as you need to look to see the scam for what it is.

  7. The idea that a company has a right to keep you from repairing your PROPERTY, and that they maintain an ownership right in products that you paid for, is crazy. Does an author or publisher “own” the book you buy? What ever happened to a commitment to freedom? Whatever happened to the “pirate” mentality that used to be an Apple user hallmark? Let companies simply say that ANY damage resulting from third-party repair or parts is not the responsibility of Apple. Problem solved. When companies start telling you that you really don’t OWN the $100,00 car or the $750,000 home you paid for and paid taxes, insurance and maintenance for, you will see the absurdity of this. When companies start turning off access to your devices because you belong to the wrong party or group, you will REALLY understand.

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