Today’s announcement from Apple is a
big good news. For the first time the company will offer both original spare parts and instructions to repair on our own devices like iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.
It’s quite a statement of intent from a company that for years has been reluctant to let users fiddle with their devices. Only in recent times opened this option to some authorized services, but now any user can try to repair his mobile or his Apple computer. The problem is that although that opens up some options, the Cupertino company makes your products less and less repairable or expandable.
Your device is (a little) yours again
It’s not just Apple, be careful: many other manufacturers have been putting up obstacles for some time that make the products we buy from them are not entirely ours.
We have a famous case in the American manufacturer of tractors John Deere, which sold you its machines but then he covered any self-repair option of those who bought them. The firm itself explained then that what you were buying was not actually the tractor itself, but “an implicit license for the life of the vehicle to be able to use it “. There is nothing.
Apple has not cut too much when it comes to putting obstacles to the repairs of the users, and only began to make a move after the controversy that was discovered with the throttling of some iPhones: when the battery degraded, the mobile slowed down to maintain autonomy.
That finally caused Apple open the options a bit: It was no longer mandatory to take the iPhone to an Apple store for repair, and one could also choose one of the authorized centers that Apple certified and that received instructions and original spare parts for this process.
That opening was actually a halftone: shortly afterwards it was revealed that Apple blocked software functions if an authorized replacement had not been produced, but the battle for the right to repair raged in both the United States and Europe, where a victory for current legislation was recently celebrated.
In the European Union it was decided that your TV or your refrigerator should last you at least ten years – if you did not decide to change them before – and although that had consequences that were difficult to measure, it seems that today’s announcement from Apple is among other things – in addition to a favorable boost to its brand image— a way to avoid problems with that legislation.
It is not the first to take these types of measures: Microsoft announced something similar a month ago, but that both have moved a tab just now has of course that whiff of “it is better to prevent now what to pay fines later“.
The news in this sense is undoubtedly positive and means that any user can finally have more options when it comes to repairing their devices. And yet …
Not everything is rosy
Those responsible for iFixit, visible heads of that movement for the right to repair —one with which they certainly benefit economically— they celebrated the news saying that now we are all geniuses (playing with the ‘Genius’, the technical service section in Apple stores), but they also explained that that news had a less favorable side.
It does, because as they explained, “Apple is modeling that self-repair service along the lines of its restrictive Independent Repair Provider (IRP) program. At the moment, Apple’s repair software does not allow an IRP member to replace a broken component with one taken from another Apple device; You need to scan both the serial number of the replacement part purchased from Apple and the phone itself. “
That is a problem because prevents for example to use “scrap parts”And that seems to favor Apple’s aftermarket, which predictably – just take a look at the odd cable they sell in their store – won’t be particularly affordable.
In fact, iFixit highlighted how members of the IRP program they had complained that the price of spare parts “it was not competitive with other markets for aftermarket parts. “
At the moment, a screen for the iPhone 12 costs those members IRP $ 270 (then the labor would have to be added), which is just what it costs a customer to change that same screen if their mobile is not under warranty. Overall, these customers have no incentive to go to a different technical service, because that repair will be cheaper in Apple stores.
So it will be interesting to see if this ends up making Apple the owner of the aftermarket. In iFixit they point out that this could happen, and in fact if they control that market “Apple can decide when those devices are obsolete“In Europe it seems that achieving this will be more difficult – the new legislation requires 10 years of spare parts – but that requirement seems difficult to meet (in practice and financially) by companies.
Now we just need to have more repairable (and expandable) products
Then there is of course the other problem: that both Apple and other companies make their products. less and less repairable and less expandable.
Those fabricators like to solder everything to plate and make only some elements can be replaced. If there is a problem that is not with the screen, the camera or the battery, the normal thing is that the official technical service that you have to change the motherboard: it happened to me personally with my Dell XPS 13 in a nightmare that I got out of alive but that left scars on me in this debate.
It is very likely that that bad experience made me especially sensitive to the right to repair movement: I think When you buy a product, it is completely yours, and you have the right to enjoy it in the way you want “As long as you don’t hurt anyone.” You can use it, try to repair it, or kick it and burn it – you’ve paid for that right.
But manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult to do something like this. You can certainly kick your iPhone or burn it – or shred it, an idea gone turning into business-, but what you couldn’t was repair it.
With laptops things have gotten worse, and this is especially noticeable in the new and very powerful MacBook Pro, which now have memory no longer soldered on board, but directly integrated into the SoC. There is no human way to expand it, so if you are going to buy one you better think not about the RAM you need today, but about what you will need tomorrow.
Microsoft also does not go around with little girls in this regard, and neither do many other manufacturers that limit repairability and expansion options although in recent times we have seen some movements in favor of being able to expand storage – as in the Surface Laptop 4 – and even memory.
Here all those manufacturers they have a mirror in which to look at themselves. Or two. The first, the Fairphone that continues to be the highest expression of repairability in a mobile phone. The second, the Framework that does the same in the world of laptops.
I wish the Apple and Microsoft of the world would learn from them. I wish we all did. Until then, yes, we have here a small victory for defenders of the right to repair. Less gives a stone. Or, in this case, Apple.
Source: Xataka by www.xataka.com.
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