Allstate buys mobile device repair company iCracked, becoming powerful proponent of ‘Right to Repair’ movement against Apple

“Allstate, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, just made a curious purchase,” Matthew Gault reports for Motherboard. “Through its subsidiary SquareTrade, the insurance giant bought iCracked, one of the largest independent smartphone repair companies in the country.”

“The acquisition means that Allstate has become one of the most powerful proponents of right to repair legislation in the United States,” Gault reports. “According to Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, which is pushing for the legislation, the company has already loaned a lobbyist to the effort in New Hampshire.”

“This is potentially big news for the right to repair movement, which is trying to get laws passed in 15 states this year that would make it easier for independent repair professionals to get repair tools and parts for consumer electronics,” Gault reports. “Thus far, it’s been largely a grassroots effort from organizations like Repair.org and iFixit. Companies such as Apple, John Deere, Facebook, Microsoft, and trade organizations that represent huge tech companies have used their considerable political power to lobby against these bills. But Allstate’s purchase of iCracked is a potential gamechanger.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Right to Repair” sounds great until you actually think about it for three seconds.

This ill-considered bill should never be made law. It will retard innovation along with making products less secure, susceptible to water and dust damage, more expensive, and more dangerous.

We do not want to be trapped aboard a jetliner at 30,000 feet when some random unauthorized repair shop’s handiwork goes up in flames. It’s bad enough that there are some Samsung phones in steerage. We try not to think about that when flying. — MacDailyNews, March 8, 2018

As we wrote last March:

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.

Why did all 521 souls aboard that 747 die in a fiery plane crash? Because some cheapskates wanted to save $12 on their fragmandroid phone battery replacements, that’s why.

SEE ALSO:
California to introduce ‘right to repair’ bill which Apple opposes – March 8, 2018
State of Washington bill would make it illegal to sell electronics that don’t have easily replaceable batteries – January 26, 2018
Why Apple doesn’t want you repairing your broken iPhone or iPad yourself – July 12, 2017
Apple makes iPhone screen fixes easier as U.S. states mull ‘right to repair’ laws – June 7, 2017
Apple lobbying against ‘Right to Repair’ legislation, New York State records confirm – May 18, 2017
Apple fights against ‘right to repair’ – April 20, 2017
Apple fights ‘right to repair’ proposal; warns Nebraska could become a ‘Mecca for bad actors’ – March 10, 2017
Apple fights tooth and nail against ‘right to repair’ laws – March 8, 2017
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

10 Comments

  1. The MDN Take sounds logical and reads well. The problem is, it is inconsistent with reality. Take pickup trucks, as an example…you could rewrite the MDN Take by replacing just a few words, and it sounds reasonable. However, the fact is that there are all kinds of sources for replacement parts and service that are not OEM parts and not dealers. Yet, somehow, the world keeps turning.

    “Using authorized channels is the only way to ensure you are getting genuine [Ford] parts and that the repair will be done to the right specifications. With so many second-hand [trucks], for example, being sold and re-sold, how are buyers to know their [alternator] is the genuine part and that it was correctly installed?”

    To be clear, I am not saying that I favor the “right to fix” legislative efforts. The efforts that I have studied are flawed and will likely lead to undesirable, unintended consequences. Far too often we seem to make things worse when we attempt to “fix” a perceived problem. As the saying goes, “follow the money.” I guarantee that a group of wealthy and powerful people and companies intend to profit from the “right to fix” legislation. And I also guarantee that they don’t really give a crap about the “little people” who may be adversely impacted by the proposed new laws. “Helping the little people” and “righting injustice” are generally just noise used to gain an advantage in politics.

    1. Good points. There is one difference, I think.

      That alternator isn’t going to burst into flames while the vehicle is parked in the garage. But that’s exactly what can happen to a phone… whether beside the bed, or in the hold of an aircraft.

      In my business, I see all sorts of low-level people do shoddy work. Some are just blazingly ignorant and think they know enough to call themselves a professional. Some are just crooks. The result is inadequate work that impacts the businesses of their customers.

      So just financial costs. That’s bad enough. When the cost could be a plane going down, no, I don’t think Mr. Mickey Mouse Operator should be able to set up a repair business with the cooperation of the manufacturers.

      1. And you don’t keep all your private papers and financial information in your car or truck either. Although an Android user might. If you don’t have much to lose, security is not an issue.
        Maybe Allstate will pay for any financial loses from giving your phone to shady repair shops.

      2. No analogy is perfect. I was simply trying to poke a stick into MDN’s argument, the same way that MDN always warns about the “save the children” plea. It appeals to people and it can sound good. But that does not mean that it is a god idea.

        With respect to the truck analogy, consider a flawed master cylinder that results in a fiery multi-vehicle pileup. Or the brake failure might result in a vehicle plowing into a crowd. Or cheap fuel pump might leak gasoline while parked in your garage and start a fire that takes out your family.

        While it is true that my truck is not an airplane with several hundred people onboard, I would guess that there are more than 150 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. – plenty of volume for accumulated mayhem over a period of years. There are a lot of unsafe vehicles on the road right now. Unfortunately, a “right to fix” does not mean that people feel an obligation to fix.

      3. You sound very lucid in your “manic” phase, Sean. Of course we all wish you the best battling your mental illness. I knew there was something “off” about you for a long time but this really explains everything.

        Good luck dude.

      4. Vehicles burst into flames while parked in garages all the time, and for various reasons. When people crash their vehicles, they don’t have to go back to the manufacturer to get them fixed. Telling people they have to go to an Apple store to get an iPhone screen replaced is ridiculous.

  2. I believe in the right to repair but in all honesty, getting “qualified” personnel to repair is the problem. In this case it happens to be an insurance company that can withstand financial challenges.

    I have an iPhone 7 Plus and dropped it in its protective case just after Thanksgiving. Freak drop, rock sticking up cracked the glass. Had insurance. Called for them to replace the screen. Guy came and seemed competent in the conversation; replaced the screen in about 30 minutes, around Dec 4.
    At the last few days of Dec, when Apples battery replacement special ended, the battery began loosing its charge rather quickly. By the end of the first week end in Jan, I was down to about 30 – 40 minuses use.
    This time, I turned to iFixit and ordered a new battery.
    Upon opening the case, what did I find? A micro screw sitting on top of the battery in the very middle. The screen repair fellow apparently dropped the screw, couldn’t find it and used an extra one in his pack of tools/screws to re-assemble it. He didn’t see the tiny screw in the case!
    The screw made an indention on the battery and evidently caused the battery to short out. I was very fortunate that it did not catch on fire. In the future, I will not let someone else repair (except Apple or myself) and if I purchase insurance, it will be for replacement, not fixing – if they let me.

    BTW – I started building SW radios, stereos, amps and other electronics from schematics back in the late 50s and through the ’60s; and assist in wiring houses and buildings according to strict codes, etc. “Fixing” is not something everyone can do. But for those that can, they should be able to do that.

  3. That is good that they will usee the rights parts so that the repair is done correctly. That is something I would want to have for my phone in case my phone screen was to break. It would be important to find somewhere that repaired phone screens with the right parts.

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