The concept of “right to repair” is becoming increasingly popular among repair services and general users. Thanks to the efforts of supporters of this initiative, many large and small companies are improving the maintainability of their devices. At the same time, the idea is supported even by those organizations and corporations that previously opposed it. One of them is Apple, and today we’ll talk about how its attitude towards “law” has changed and also discuss the actions of other companies that do not correspond to this concept.
What’s wrong with Apple?
One of the most notable recent right-to-repair initiatives is laws in the United States and Europe aimed at protecting buyers of electronic devices and household appliances. For example, in California, USA, legislators passed a bill obliging technology companies to provide service centers and users with spare parts for repairing their gadgets and tools for such repairs. The bill requires that components, repair manuals, and other required information remain available for seven years after the release of any product costing more than $100.
And Apple supported this bill. Although the corporation previously opposed such measures, claiming that it was thereby “protecting users” of its devices from poor-quality repairs. That is, the company argued that third-party service centers do not repair equipment with particularly high quality, unlike Apple’s own centers.
A little later, the corporation retreated from this position, and then completely supported the initiative of supporters of the “right to repair.” Now Apple representatives have said that they will seek the adoption of similar bills in other states, not just California. “We are going to introduce new measures to support users throughout the United States,” said one of the top managers of the corporation.
Several years ago, the company launched a program to support independent service centers, as well as a program to support the repair of devices by their owners. Apple’s current activity may also influence the position of other device manufacturers who are still in a neutral position regarding “right.”
“I’m sure most electronic device suppliers will sooner or later realize that they can save themselves a lot of hassle by providing replacement parts, tools and other items to service centers and users in New York, Minnesota, California and Colorado,” Gay commented on the situation. Gordon Byrne, chief executive of The Repair Association.
Other companies are also in favor
Microsoft, for example, began selling replacement parts for Surface, including displays, sensors, cameras, batteries and removable SSDs. At the moment, all this is available to US users, with Surface Pro 7/9/9 Pro, Laptop 3/5, Laptop Go 2, Laptop Studio/Studio 2+ models. But soon both the geography of sales and the model range of devices for which spare parts are available will be expanded.
Microsoft also began selling various tools for repairing its devices, plus posting repair instructions for both the Surface 9 Pro and other products.
In addition, its Surface PRO 9 has become almost modular. So, a removable SSD is installed inside, it became possible to access it without disassembling the entire device. According to repair experts, it has become much easier to remove the screen – just heat it up a little and that’s it. Of course, removing the screen requires experience in any case, but still repairing the “Nine” has become much simpler compared to previous models.
Valve announced a partnership with iFixit to sell parts and components for the Steam Deck and Valve Index. The only thing the manufacturer warns about is the need to have the necessary skills for repairs, since if an inexperienced user ruins something, then the device is no longer covered under warranty for replacement or repair. Valve also provides kits and components for repairing the Steam Deck portable game console.
Moreover, the game console itself is relatively easy to disassemble. You can disassemble it using a small set of screwdrivers and tweezers. Valve made sure that the user could easily change the control keys (sticks) and the internal storage, which is located close to the wireless module.
Samsung, in turn, not only entered into an agreement with iFixit, saying that the new initiative involves the provision of spare parts, repair tools and even detailed guides with photos that help technicians quickly master the repair process. But he also began developing a mobile application with instructions for self-repairing devices. The South Korean company filed a corresponding application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The company has filed a corresponding patent application. In it, Samsung describes the application as application software for smartphones designed to repair, maintain and customize gadgets. The list also states that the application will help repair smartphones, tablets, computers, smart watches and headphones.
But there are also problems
There are, of course, a lot of them. For example, the new product from Sony, PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, has the ability to connect a removable drive for laser discs. But in order for the drive to work, the console must have an Internet connection when connected for the first time.
The Japanese company says it took this step to prevent the use of third-party drives. But at the same time, this creates a problem for players – not everyone has the opportunity to connect to the network, in addition, if there are problems with the server that is responsible for checking the drive, problems will also arise.
Sony has already had similar problems – for example, the first revisions of the PS4 had problems with drives labeled BDP-020. Something was breaking on the drive board, but replacing the board did not solve the problem. As it turned out, you just need to transplant the “native” Renesas chip from the failed board to a board ordered in China. Its firmware contained keys with which the set-top box was checked, determining whether the drive was installed on its own or someone else’s (that is, from a third-party manufacturer).
At Apple, many chips are “tied” and are tied to the motherboard. So to replace the chip, you need a programmer that allows you to transfer the firmware from the original chip to the new one.
From the same Sony in 2021 showed up problems with the battery on the board. If it was discharged, then the console simply did not work. The company eventually had to update the console’s firmware to resolve this strange situation.
And there are quite a few such seemingly small technological nuances – many companies are trying to direct users of affected devices to authorized service centers. After all, repairing your own devices is literally a gold mine; the amount for repairs from an “official” is several times higher than in the case of working with an independent service center.
All this and much more remains to be resolved in the future. But it’s also good that the concept of the “right to repair” is already sweeping the planet. It will be better later. At least I would like to hope so.
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