Apple will finally allow people to repair their Apple devices starting with the latest iPhone models and possibly their M1-powered Macs as well. Next year, the company will start selling replacement parts and even the tools needed to replace and install some broken components. This is quite the reversal from the prevailing attitude of making tech so hard or expensive to fix that it’s easier to replace rather than repair. That shitty attitude threatens to overtake modern car production, too, so I feel like this is good news.
For once, carmakers, you have our blessing to copy the tech industry. And really, this is likely proof that Tim Cook reads Jalopnik. Our own Rory Carroll’s scathing remarks about obsolescence being built into modern cars probably convinced Apple to stop being a big, wet blanket. You’re welcome, internet.
Then again, maybe Apple saw an opening in a relatively small but likely still lucrative market, where it can cut out the middleman for device repairs. All those third-party repair shops and kiosks in shopping malls could just be standing between Apple users and its new repair store. Why would Apple give up any of the money its customers would pay to an independent shop for repairing a cracked screen or broken earpiece when it could sell users everything they’d need to fix it?
I do wonder about the implications of Apple’s move for companies like iFixit, which not only provides great overviews of device repairability but also sells parts and tools. Again, it looks like Apple has decided it can make some money doing that itself with no need for an intermediary.
But none of this is to denigrate or criticize the move. It’s actually pretty fucking great...if you don’t mind fixing your own devices and wished they were less disposable. But right-to-repair advocates are still wary according to a report from Vice, which quotes advocates about their justifiable suspicions:
“The list of parts and products remains very limited—and while the press release hints ‘more’ will be available over time, we all know that good intentions aren’t bankable,” Repair.org said. “Our inner cynic believes that Apple is making these concessions in a clear attempt to forestall legislation. The moment our pressure is off—they have no incentive to remain helpful. Further, legislation isn’t only about Apple—it applies to competitors as well—and into industries outside of consumer electronics. Victory feels great—but reminds us that this is one of the thousands of OEMs that abuse their customers with anti-competitive policies. We will continue until laws are passed that make it practical for all equipment owners to have fair and reasonable access to repair services of their choice.”
The industries outside of consumer electronics mentioned in the quote could easily be auto or agriculture. Advocacy has taken on the form of proposed legislation across industries, and the fear is that Apple wants to do the bare minimum to get ahead of these laws, as Vice noted and Android Central explains. That’s fair and probably true.
The cynic in me says this is going to affect very few people to begin with because the overwhelming majority of Apple users probably aren’t keen on wrestling with the industrial adhesives used in assembling their iPhones. But I still think this is a stepping stone to changing our relationship to disposable tech, and hopefully, this is a hurdle to that same crappy concept applying to cars.
Most importantly, you can now be certain that the Apple C-suite is reading Jalopnik. If anyone sees a timcookie, timappleTM or tinytimtrillions lurking in the greys, it’s clear that you’re reading comments from the big man (and Jalopnik fan) himself.