News about Apple’s T2 chips has some right-to-repair pundits arguing that the tech company is playing hard to get. But there are two sides to every story. Is Apple wrong for controlling their product quality and security—before and after repairs are made? After all, the $182.8 billion Apple brand is at stake; they are on the hook for the product warranty for millions of devices and device security is a priority. Or, is the impact that unrepairable devices have on ownership rights (not to mention on the environment) unreasonable to accept?
Right to Repair is a battle over product ownership.
The Right to Repair Bill—something our heroes at iFixit vigorously champion—is the legislation that requires manufacturers to provide repair instructions and tools to service the products we buy. The Bill also prevents consumers from being forced to use only manufacturer-authorized service providers. This is an essential provision, since the price of repairs is often a deciding factor in repairing an old device or buying a new one.
Why Apple is at the core of it.
There are other manufacturers who want to squash the Right to Repair Bill too, but it seems the majority of resistance is from Apple. Apple prefers that you buy a new widget, only use their authorized repair centers, and stay the heck out of their proprietary systems. And, did I mention that Apple also has the $700 billion clout to hold the floor?
Apple (and its competitors) have engineered amazing technologies in smaller and smaller formats. As devices shrink in size, proprietary adhesives and soldered components have become commonplace. This makes repairing and upgrading these devices extremely difficult. Apple-specified repair shops, with exclusive access to the know-how and tools, ensure our satisfaction by using only manufacturer-authorized parts; quality to be expected from a product that costs as much as they do. And with technologies like biometric scanning in the keyboard or facial recognition through the camera, there are even fewer parts of the device that can be tinkered with without undermining the security of the device.
Making your IT Sustainable
Sage supports Right-to-Repair legislation because our sustainability mission depends on it. Our goal is to extend the life of every used device we touch. That’s a tall order, considering the vast array of electronics that we see. But every device that gets refurbished gives tech buyers more sustainable and more affordable choices—all while avoiding the landfill with every repair. Reducing any hurdle to repair, like the Bill proposes to do, will change the economics of a longer lifecycle.
At Sage, we constantly innovate to make the economics work. Cost-effective parts & supplies, efficient processing, and diverse resale channels all enable help to make hundreds of thousands of devices ready for a new user. When repair obstacles or security obstacles occur, such as iCloud locks, carrier locks, password locks that can’t be removed, great technology is prematurely recycled.
All of this work goes into helping the millions of people who rely on affordable used equipment to participate in our digital society. Access to the tools and critical repair instructions enables the refurbishing industry to do its good work.
Without the right to repair, the world’s fastest growing waste
stream, e-waste, will continue to grow at a frightening pace.
Think about your smart TV today; if it goes on the blink, it goes straight into the trash. Bad design, restricted parts, and proprietary tools are the big problems to modern television repair. Look at the horrific results of our throw-away society at BAN.org and their 60 minutes exposé on the West’s high-tech trashing of Asia. It’s clear the Planet desperately needs the Right to Repair Bill.
The bottom line is manufacturers have the responsibility to design for the environment, resist unrepairable product designs, and work to figure this out. Steve Jobs famously said, “Our job is to figure out what they (consumers) want before they do.” That puts them in the driver’s seat, as far as I see it—and they’re running late. We want the right to repair.
For more information about iFixit’s awesome repair platform, visit www.ifixit.org.