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Apple Must Explain Why It Doesn't Want You To Fix Your Own iPhone, California Lawmaker Says ( 195

A California state lawmaker says she hopes to make Apple explain specifically why it has opposed and lobbied against legislation that would make it easier for you to repair your iPhone and other electronics. Motherboard reports: Last week, California assemblymember Susan Talamantes-Eggman announced that she plans to introduce right to repair legislation in the state, which would require companies like Apple, Microsoft, John Deere, and Samsung to sell replacement parts and repair tools, make repair guides available to the public, and would require companies to make diagnostic software available to independent shops. Public records show that Apple has lobbied against right to repair legislation in New York, and my previous reporting has shown that Apple has privately asked lawmakers to kill legislation in places like Nebraska. To this point, the company has largely used its membership in trade organizations such as CompTIA and the Consumer Technology Association to publicly oppose the bill. But with the right to repair debate coming to Apple's home state, Talamantes-Eggman says she expects the company to show up to hearings about the bill.

"Apple is a very important company in the state of California, and one I have a huge amount of respect for. But the onus is on them to explain why we can't repair our own things and what damage or danger it causes them," Talamantes-Eggman told me in a phone interview. Talamantes-Eggman told me that the bill she plans to introduce will apply to both consumer electronics as well as agricultural equipment such as tractors. Broadly speaking, the electronics industry has decided to go with an "authorized repair" model in which companies pay the original device manufacturer to become authorized to fix devices.

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Apple Must Explain Why It Doesn't Want You To Fix Your Own iPhone, California Lawmaker Says

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  • Dead simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by r00t_of_all_evils ( 700479 ) * on Monday March 12, 2018 @04:10PM (#56248581)
    If you buy a phone and fix it for 10 years, Apple doesn't make any money off of you for 10 years.
    • spare parts usually have quite high markup

      It works out great for the auto industry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 )

        spare parts usually have quite high markup

        It works out great for the auto industry.

        Johnny Cash had an answer for that...
        Larceny ! []

      • spare parts usually have quite high markup

        Yeah, but there's a difference. Anyone who has repaired electronics like an iPhone knows that the parts inside are incredibly inexpensive. The last thing that Apple wants you to know is that all the parts of an iPhone cost like $15. It might make some people less willing to pay $1000.

        • .... which is why spare parts are sold at high markup.
          If you tried to assemble a $20,000 car from spare parts at retail price, you'd probably end up spending $1,000,000.
          You wouldn't be able to do it though, since you can't buy a spare monocoque chassis.

          • .... which is why spare parts are sold at high markup.

            I've gone to a local junkyard and got a perfectly good fuel pump for approximately $5,

            • Your anecdote doesn't change the fact the service department of any car dealership is the most profitable part of the business and the OEM spare parts departments of car manufacturers are also extremely profitable.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Not as high as you think. Takes a lot of infrastructure to provide OE parts a decade after production ended for a vehicle.
    • You can repair it now, but you void the warranty. Don't like the manufacturer's rules, buy something else. It's that simple.

      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        Show me the manufacturer that does not void your warranty then you can tell me about choice.
        • Car manufacturers can’t void your warranty unless you do something that damages the vehicle. I can, or an independent mechanic can, change the oil or replace the brakes without voiding the warranty. Of course, the increasing use of sophisticated diagnostic tools, such as those that require registering a new battery on a BMW, for example, means even what once were simple repairs now require buying a third party diagnostic tool to properly complete a repair.

          Even something as simple as installing a Blue

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "You can repair it now, but you void the warranty."

        Really? Try replacing the TouchID sensor on one.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        I've repaired Apple devices and later taken them for Apple warranty service. If you do your own repairs they CAN void the warranty, but that doesn't mean they do, unless the damage is likely due to your repair job. Running over your phone repeatedly with a steam roller also voids the warranty.

      • Re:Dead simple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday March 12, 2018 @05:55PM (#56249143)

        You can repair it now, but you void the warranty. Don't like the manufacturer's rules, buy something else. It's that simple.

        Anyone who's worked a customer service desk knows this - warranty fraud is rampant.

        We're not talking about the lame ass buy-a-new-product return-old-product-inside-it trick, but customers lie through their teeth. You can have a laptop that's fallen into the pool, or bathrub, or whatever, and is dripping water all over the return counter, and the customer will say there is no water damage.

        And most people are incompetent. Just think about your time fixing software issues. Now figure out what happens when you unleash them to fix hardware problems too. The old butterknife screwdriver is the least of your problems.

        Think about it - a site like iFixit - probably the biggest pusher for right to repair, doesn't really want you do it. I mean, if they did, why don't they warrant their products? You buy it, you try to fix it, it doesn't work, why can't you return it? It's almost as if they know if they sell you a cable to fix your iPhone, you're going to return them the damaged one and claim they shipped you a bad one.

        And it doesn't cover even things like security - TouchID and FaceID sensors are paired with the phone so people don't swap them. Why? Because if you swap them, you could swap them with "evil" versions of the sensors that record (and transmit) your fingerprint and facial data to a third party who may use it to log into your phone when you're not around. Since this is specialized tech, you can assume it would be a state agency that does this. That would be the deepest of ironies - the FBI uses the law to force Apple to make it so they can break in.

        And what about stuff that's safety related? If you replace the battery yourself and it causes the phone to catch on fire, is Apple responsible? Even an official first party battery can be problematic with a fat-fingered person prodding it with their butterknife screwdriver.

        I'm guessing we'll see the return of the "warranty void if broken" sticker. Because right now, there's an IQ test in place for people fixing their stuff. And if you think it's ridiculous, well, you haven't seen what the public can do. If you fix computers for a living, you know exactly the people who are going to try to fix their stuff.

      • They can try, but the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act will hold up in court if you go that far. They just know you can't afford a lawyer.

      • Manufacturers' warranties typically only last up to 2 years. Yes, you can purchase a warranty extension but it should be possible to replace a $15 battery without paying $50-100 to somebody utilizing a sonic screwdriver to open the case (or engaging battery-regulating software without informing the user.)

        But clickbait aside, I'm not sure why the rage is directed solely at Apple. Being a market leader, Android manufacturers tend to follow suit with every user-hostile feature removal. To buy something else im

    • They make plenty of money if they keep you as a customer. When your phone breaks you can get a new one, and it might not be an Apple branded phone.

    • 'Planned obsolescence'. If they thought it was a good idea, your iPhone (and lots of other things from lots of other companies) would just be a block of black epoxy underneath the outer shell, and when it stops working, you chuck it in the e-waste bin. Hell, if some companies had their way, there'd be a literal self-destruct timer built into things, and it'd just stop working after, say, 3 years (or 2, or 1), no 'repair' possible, you just toss it and get a new one.
    • But strangely, Apple provides operating system updates for its mobile products for roughly five years and still makes a whole lot of money. There is no need to fix an older iphone or ipad because they're just too slow at that point.

    • Sure they will by selling replacement parts that are essentially as expensive as a new phone.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone already knows both answers.

    The public "official" answer will have to do with brand quality and not tainting their image by allowing inferior unauthorized work to be done, thereby artificially making the units statistically less reliable.

    The real reason which they won't say publicly, is because obviously they want to sell you a newer phone.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      They don't want the overhead of having to support multiple versions of hardware and ending up like the PC market.

      • They don't want the overhead of having to support multiple versions of hardware and ending up like the PC market.

        They still could EOL older machines, just like car manufactirers do. Parts for some older vehicles are no longer available, although the life cycle is longer for cars than computers. A large third party source of suppliers has arisen around making parts no longer available from manufacturers for vehicle long out of production; especially for cars popular with enthusiasts. Specialized trim pieces seem to buy the hardest to find, which is why I recommend buying a compete set of decals for a vehicle that has a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2018 @04:32PM (#56248701)

    I had an iPhone5 with an expanded battery that pushed the display out of its case. For $50, I bought a display, battery and "repair kit" from eBay. After watching an internet video 3 times, I was able to repair it, breaking the camera in the process. For another $5, I got a camera from eBay & replaced the broken camera. I was able to use it for a number of years before the charging connector failed. I'm still thinking about repairing it.
        As a degreed EE, though, who has worked for some of the high-tech firms (not Apple), I can kind of understand Apple's position. Suppose the battery I bought from eBay had shorted & burned up the phone. Suppose I left a metal fragment in there which shorted one of the I/O pins when I needed to call 911. A repair shop which has nothing to do for a few days might figure out a software mod which causes problems later, etc. Years ago, computers became too complex for component repair and companies went to board repair. With cellphones today, even board repair is difficult -- the best route for a company like Apple is to offer a pretty good trade-in value for a new phone.

    • Chicken, egg (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      With cellphones today, even board repair is difficult

      That's a consequence of toxic marketing driving intentionally poor design: too-thin phones, too-fragile connectors, non-replaceable batteries, screens without a reasonable bezel around them, etc.

      There's no good reason at all a phone can't be designed to be easy to maintain, repair, use and carry.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2018 @06:48PM (#56249455)

      I can kind of understand Apple's position. Suppose the battery I bought from eBay had shorted & burned up the phone. Suppose I left a metal fragment in there which shorted one of the I/O pins when I needed to call 911.

      Can't-make-a-911-call example is a joke compared to what might happen if I don't bother to tighten the lug nuts on the wheel that I'm allowed to change on my car. All the dead and injured people on the highway are why you want to call 911.

      Yet we're still allowed to repair cars.

      Pretty much the only way you're going to have a phone failure be as bad as the routine auto repair risks that we already accept, is to take that phone on a plane and have an overly-rapid battery discharge. So use such an example next time.

  • by llamalad ( 12917 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @04:42PM (#56248745)

    Can I get an iphone that's more durable and has a removable battery?

    I'm willing to accept it being double the weight and thickness; I bet with the extra structure they can also improve its durability and let me keep my damned headphone jack.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )

      Can I get a sports car that takes regular gasoline and seats four people? I'm fine with doubling the weight or whatever to just get what I want.

      Then buy a Honda Civic.

      You want an iPhone that's more durable and has a removable battery? Did you check the Android aisle?
      The whole point of the iPhone is the sleekness, the design, the brand. If you're not into that then you're not into the iPhone and you need to stop kidding yourself.

    • by Tool Man ( 9826 )

      Yup, ditto for laptops, which are at least historically more fixable. My mid-2012 MBP needed the battery replaced, which required going to a service place that replaced (as a unit) the top case, battery, keyboard and trackpad. Fine, at least I get a less-grungy keyboard, right? Then the charging circuit died on the main board. I *could* have gotten that fixed too, to still have an out-of-warranty, non-upgradeable device with a bunch of stuck pixels on the display.

      So I went and bought a Lenovo P50, with a be

    • I'm NOT willing to accept it being double the weight and thickness. I've never had an iPhone fail on me for reasons of durability, though. I admit that I keep a thin, $12 case on the back (just the back, nothing covering the screen) and I kept my iPhone 4 for 4 years, my iPhone 6 for 3 years (only 3 because it was stolen), and I've had my iPhone 7 for about 6 months.

      The batteries in my iPhones did begin to fail around year 3, but that's chemistry.

      So given all of these things, I STILL think that making 1st p

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        You are lucky, or a very light user.

        My fiancee and all her friends and family have iPhones. All heavy users. Batteries typically last around 18 to 24 months, which is what you would expect. The batteries they use are good for about 500 cycles, and because they are relatively small average about one a day.

        Being thicker and more damage resistant would be a great benefit to them. They all have chunky cases and screen protectors to protect their fragile phones anyway. The naked phones are very slippery and the

    • More durable and a removable battery. Sounds like it may last more than 2 years before ending up in a landfill, Apple can never allow that.

      And a headphone jack will cost Apple a fortune in lost sales of wireless headphones with non-removable batteries that also end up in the landfill in 2 years.

      Why do you want to help the environment and hurt corporate profits, are you some kind of hippie commie? /sarcasm
  • by Streetlight ( 1102081 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @04:42PM (#56248749) Journal
    The chances of such legislation passing the California, or any other state legislature, depends on how many legislators Apple has bought. I'm sure Apple's out shopping now.
    • It's California. Apple already owns the Democrat Party from their numerous donations over the years, so this is apparently a legislator who missed out on that and doesn't have his marching orders. This could turn out interesting.

  • john deere does not want to send a dear john to dealers that need to make bank on dealer only repairs.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @05:11PM (#56248901) Homepage Journal

    Everyone is aware of the planned obsolescence angle, but nobody seems to have noticed that particular irony of California (i.e. the state containing Hollywood) being the one asking for a right to repair. Lots of hardware makers are either in bed with content companies, or are one. As long as DRM is still legal, this results in an unavoidable conflict of interest.

    DRM is always what these companies are really talking about, whenever they use the word "security." They mean they want to keep the machine's master's interests secure against the great adversary: the machine's owner.

    DRM and right-to-repair are fundamentally incompatible. You can't implement DRM and also be owner-maintainable, because from an owner's point of view, DRM implementations are bugs (or malware, depending on how strict you want to be about the implementor's intent), and bugs need to be fixed.

    I think California will cave in on this, and their legislators will eventually realize that it's necessary that people have adversarial relationship with their computers. The only way this can be avoided, is if DRM ceases to be a thing. And the only way that's going to happen, is if it's outlawed.

    Expect this bill to die, for much more inflexible reasons than wanting to protect planned obsolescence. They simply can't allow people to be in charge of their own computers. It's not happening.

    • This only comes into the conversation when it's RMS levels of repair. If it were only down to the secure enclave, baseband, and other similar SoC items, this wouldn't really be a problem.

      I'd wager that the top five hardware items to repair on the iPhone are as follows:

      1. Cracked screen.
      2. EoL battery.
      3. Lightning connector.
      4. Home button.
      5. silent switch / volume buttons / power button.

      Each of these are reasonably-modular things that a reasonably skilled individual could perform; Youtube tutorials abound fo

  • by GregMmm ( 5115215 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @05:25PM (#56248973)

    I had to think about this for a while, but it all points back to Apple wanting to sell phones. After I've had my phone for say 3 years why can't I try and fix it? It's not a warranty problem, that's expired. Important point is the phone is mine, not the selling company. I throw the BS flag on the idea it's to keep the integrity of their product. I know, it would be better for me to walk around with a cracked screen on my phone, cause that's great advertisement. Buy this phone, it breaks. And lastly as a couple of people have commented, there is usually multiple detailed youtube videos available on exactly how to do it.

    Personally I'm sick of people telling me what do to with my stuff. I'm curious by nature and I've fixed a lot of broken stuff. It's what drive a number of us nerd types. Can I fix this, or better yet, how can I make this better.

    This just seems to be all about the money.

    • by sphealey ( 2855 )

      - - - - - After I've had my phone for say 3 years why can't I try and fix it? It's not a warranty problem, that's expired. Important point is the phone is mine, not the selling company.- - - - -

      What is preventing you from trying to fix your 3-year-old phone?

      • Seriously. I'm gonna have to say, "Not much." You can get most parts, tools and instructions on iFixit. I've repaired dozens of Apple Devices. Some are easier than others, but I haven't come across one that was "impossible."
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @05:40PM (#56249051)
    It implies we don't have the right to do what we want with the products we own, unless the state gives us that right. Nobody that right to us - it is ours by virtue of the fact that we own the device.

    What this really is is a law to prohibit companies from using manufacturing process and designs which deliberately impede the owner's ability to tinker with a product. And Apple products are not the most egregious violator. It's printers with chipped ink cartridges which refuse to operate unless you buy a new cartridge from that specific manufacturer. (Software is worse, but it gets a pass because you typically buy a software license, not the software itself.)
  • Because, like home computers, smartphones are at the end of their adoption phase; every adult who is likely to eventually have one, now has one. And now they are also nearing the end of their feature phase - a smartphone from three years ago can do most of the useful things a 2018 smartphone can.

    Companies like Apple and Samsung know this, and are scrambling to maintain their quarterly sales by cramming in useless features as selling points.

    They're scared shitless that once people figure out they don't actu

  • Thefact that they ate allowed to explain things is already bad. It should not matter. Being allowed to repair should be a given.

  • Most electronics are so tightly glued together that a repair is close to impossible. The right to repair is a necessity, but one that has to be followed by repairability rules. Manufacturers of consumer electronics like Apple should get in front of this debate if they want to keep control. There are plenty other offenders, like Amazon and their Kindle devices. They cannot be rooted and once Amazon decides that updates are no longer needed the devices degrade in usability rather quickly.
  • When the Big A was created in 20th century, the creators got their start by taking apart stuff and putting them back together sometimes with mods (sometimes creating smoke with results). Though company and its philosophy has changed a lot, many products are basically tinker-proof.

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone