Apple opposes ‘Right to Repair’ bill in several US states
According to reports, Apple is preparing to oppose a ‘Right to Repair’ bill in several states in the USA. This legislation, to be introduced in the Midwestern state of Nebraska, would require manufacturers such as Apple to sell repair parts to independent repair shops and consumers; and make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.tech Updated: Feb 20, 2017 16:22 IST
Does Apple want to stop you from repairing your iPhone?
According to reports, Apple is preparing to oppose a ‘Right to Repair’ bill in several states in the USA. This legislation, to be introduced in the Midwestern state of Nebraska, would require manufacturers such as Apple to sell repair parts to independent repair shops and consumers; and make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public. Nebraska is one of eight states in the USA that is considering such legislation. In addition to Nebraska, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Tennessee, Kansas and Massachusetts are also said to be working on similar bills.
As things stand today, even the screws that hold the parts of the Apple iPhone in place are proprietary, and no regular screws can replace them. The only way to fix even a minor problem in the phone would be by visiting one of the Apple Authorised Service Providers. These providers are required to let Apple review their financial records, maintain high levels of customer service, establish a credit line with Apple, and promote AppleCare.
Independently repairing electronic items cannot just increase the life of the device, but also cause a significant reduction in the amount of e-waste generated. Rechargeable batteries are a case in point. Over time, they tend to become less and less efficient and require to be replaced. But if your cellphone has a battery that cannot be removed, the only way to get a better battery life for your phone will be to buy a new phone. If you could replace the battery, the only e-waste you would generate would be the battery. But if you have to discard the entire phone, it stands to reason that you would be generating a lot more e-waste. Which is what many companies now do; because replacing a battery, fixing a broken screen, or making any other small repairs at a small cost to the user allowing the device to have a longer life would, as the companies see it, reduce the number of devices sold.
In India, there is a large and thriving repair industry for laptops and phones. There doesn’t seem to be much chance that the passing or not of this legislation in the US will affect that industry here in any major way yet. However, it is a development that merits scrutiny because as mobile phone and internet penetration in emerging economies such as India rise, companies may expand their lobbying efforts to stymie the so called ‘unauthorised’ repair industry.