Apple, Verizon Continue to Lobby Against The Right To Repair Your Own Devices

from the monopolizing-repair dept

A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM resulted in a grassroots tech movement. John Deere’s decision to implement a lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops) they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other rabble rousers.

In the wake of Apple’s recent iPhone battery PR kerfuffle (in which it claimed it throttled the performance of older iPhones to protect device integrity from dwindling battery performance), longer than normal repair waits have resulted in renewed interest in such laws. A new bill that would make it easier for consumers to repair their own electronics or utilize third-party repair shops is quickly winding its way through the Washington state legislature. That bill would not only protect the consumers’ right to repair, but prevent the use of batteries that are difficult or impossible to replace:

“Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed ?in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove.”

Washington State Representative Jeff Morris says the bill was born directly from frustration by consumers and third-party repair shops in the wake of Apple’s PR face-plant late last year:

“Morris told me this provision in the bill came out of a conversation with an independent repair shop owner in his district, who noted that many electronics now use glued-down batteries, which makes them difficult to repair and much harder to recycle, because batteries are flammable when shredded. There is currently no easy way for recyclers to remove the batteries from MacBook Pros at scale, for instance.

?With Apple phones in particular, they glue the battery in the case, so for me, that sounds like a purposeful attempt to make it so you couldn?t repair the phone,? Morris said. ?It helps accelerate the path of those devices to the waste stream. So we?re trying to keep the philosophy our state is behind, which is recycle, repair, reuse.”

Needless to say, Apple is furiously lobbying to kill Washington State’s new law. As are fourteen other lobbying organizations representing hardware companies. Verizon’s also lobbying against the bill (via the CTIA and the Telecommunications Industry Association), obviously concerned such a law would hurt the company’s phone repair and insurance business it runs with Asurian. Unfortunately for Verizon and Apple, with 12 states introducing such bills last year and 17 such laws already proposed so far this year, this isn’t an issue that’s going away anytime soon.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: apple, verizon

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Apple, Verizon Continue to Lobby Against The Right To Repair Your Own Devices”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
93 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I’m going to start putting DRM on my money, so when I give it to companies like this in exchange for goods and services, I get to decide how they use it.

Spoiler: They won’t be allowed to spend it, invest it, put it in the bank, put it under their mattresses or buy lemonade from a stand on a really hot day. The only thing they will be allowed to do with it is return it to me, for which I will charge them a fee to do.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s also the matter of “Terms of Service” that you only get to see after you’ve opened a software or inkjet package. Not only after the transaction is concluded, but after it’s too late to return the item.

If they can do this, then it follows that you can too. “By allowing the installation to continue, the software vendor agrees to the following terms….”

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

One of these days when I am bored and in a bad mood I will have to go to the local Verizon store and give it a try. Present them with a contract and demand that they must follow that if they want my money.

If nothing else it will be entertaining and make me feel better knowing that at the very least I wasted their employees time and therefor cost them a little money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, EULAs and similar terms of service are supposed to be license contracts.

One of the things about contract law is you’re allowed to make changes to the contract and initial the changes prior to signing.

If the vendor says “but WE didn’t initial the changes!” you can respond with “well YOU didn’t give me a voice in the original contract!”

Of course, this means that if the vendor contests the agreement, you lose all rights that were covered by it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

Batteries are practically structure now, the tape on them holding other pieces in places. You are (with this battery focus) foolish as those demanding encryption with secure backdoor: it’s utterly conflicting. You just can’t have both slim and serviceable.


“quickly winding its way” is Techdirt’s usual mangling of a stock phrase: the word is “wEnding”, and doesn’t imply “quick”. I still can’t guess whether American is a second language re-writers here (who spells “Karl” with a K except Krauts and Rooskis?), drug-addled memory of rare phrases and laziness to look up, or wacky AI.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

Those strawmen you keep hallucinating have sure been told about the error of their ways! Are you ever going to address the people who exist in the real world, though?

It must be horrible for you, being so obsessed with attacking people, yet unable to find any reason that actually exists to justify doing so. You’ve been reduced to ranting about things nobody has ever said, minutae about common phrases (about which you are actually wrong) and vaguely bigoted attacks on how a person’s parents decided to spell their name (while conspicuously omitting yours). What a sad, pathetic existence you must lead.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

I have actually thought about that. Looking at the wireless earbuds on my desk I am not sure how you would make them with easily replaceable batteries.

On the other hand though, I don’t care that devices might have to be a bit bigger. A lot of devices are reaching stupid levels of size. When buying a laptop I want a machine that will do the work I need done. I don’t care about it being less than the width of a pencil. I care about it working and me being able to fix it when it has an issue.

As a result I have actually on multiple occasions turned down offers at work to give me a newer Mac book pro. Sure the new ones are MUCH thinner than my 2011 model. They also are total pieces of shit. You need an adapter for almost everything you do. The processors are also not that much faster. So I get a “new” computer that is about the same speed and I loose a bunch of ports I use every day.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

Amusingly, I’ve just received a new Macbook Pro from my employer, and compared to the mid-2010 model I own there’s some very noticeable differences. Granted, my personal one is rather beaten and the hard drive might be on its way out, but I have noticed some definitely differences in overall speed. This is especially noticeable on shutdown/startup due to the new model having an SSD.

The performance in general seems a little nippier and I would say don’t fall into the trap of comparing numbers – that never works for Apple products. Even if the processor has the same base clock speed, there’s a huge difference between the way the different processor types work, especially when bursting is required, and a combination of the RAM/SSD/graphics chipset and the way the OS handles those will be more important to real-life usage than the base clock speed of the CPU. It is a shame about the insistence on USB-C but it depends on what you need the connectivity for – in my case 98% of what I need to do will not require an adapter, though it’s early days yet to see what real-world performance is like.

I’m pretty happy with it so far, though of course the fact I didn’t pay for it personally is a bonus 🙂 I’d say if you’re happy with your 2011 machine there’s not necessarily a compelling reason to upgrade, but don’t base your entire decision on the number of GHz quoted for the processors alone.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

Sure the new ones are lot snappier when it comes to the SSD verses a spinning disk. My old 2011 model though it is a simple matter for me to open it up and slap in a nice new SSD.

It will still be slower because of the SATA connection bottle-necking it verses how the new ones are. In the end though the little bit of speed advantage the new ones have is not a compelling reason for me to upgrade.

What would make me upgrade though, without a bit of hesitation, is if they dropped a modern machine in a case like the 2011 has. Then I get to keep my ports and not have adapter hell. They could also fill all that space with battery. Suddenly you have a nice laptop with something crazy like a solid 24 hours of battery life.

SteveMB (profile) says:

Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

Nonsense. Slim and serviceable are easily combined (using the normal-person definition of “slim”, not marketing BS that pretends that everything is bloated unless you can use the edge to make thousands of julienne fries in seconds).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

You just can’t have both slim and serviceable.

If you can’t have serviceable, then I’d also argue you can’t have "refurbished."

But no refurbished would bankrupt companies, especially when they roll out shit that isn’t fully tested, or get a bad batch of boards because the children were tired that day.

Dingledore the Previously Impervious says:

Re: Well, you won't have thin gadgets any more! -- Doesn't bother me, but you who carry gadgets evidently haven't considered the drawback.

As an aside…

‘Winding its way’ and ‘wending its way’ are both correct. In the context of following a path in order to wind up at a destination, ‘winding its way’ is more correct in this instance.

Further, “prick” doesn’t just refer to making a small hole with a sharp point.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: This is also a security/privacy issue

Actually this is a really good point. Given the proclivity of Best Buy repair people searching through computers and turning people over to law enforcement, what would stop anyone ‘repairing’ anything that has computer related components from searching through…well everything. Can you encrypt your car? Can you encrypt your tractor? Oh, and this doesn’t apply merely to manufacturers doing repairs, it applies to third party repair shops as well.

Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile) says:

I recently spotted that they are bringing out a Theo Klein – John Deere fix your own tractor engine toy for kids. This is either a clever ruse or a massive snub! From the description:
Your little one can take apart and rebuild their very own John Deere engine with the John Deere Tractor Engine. There are 12 steps to rebuilding the engine. They can remove the motor, replace the battery, repair the headlight, check the oil level, repair the cooler, jack up the vehicle, replace wheel and brake disk, replace the mudguard, check the horn, repair the ignition, replace the glow plugs and replace the shock strut. With tools included and lights and sound effects this will provide hours of roleplay fun.

Michael (profile) says:

I am not sure I like the idea of legislating how companies can make things. This seems like something the market should work out. If you don’t like that Apple glues their battery in and it cannot be replaced, buy a different kind of phone.

While it is easy to say that they have glued in a battery to make it impossible to replace, it would be at least as likely that they did it to save the cost of manufacturing some kind of quick-connect and a way to hold the battery in. If they can make the phone weigh less and be slimmer by gluing it together rather than using screws, I don’t think we should have a law stopping them.

I am also not a fan of ambiguous language:

designed “in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider.

That sounds like a pretty subjective standard. Who tells us how qualified the repair provider needs to be? I don’t think I can replace the screen on my LG phone myself, does that violate this law?

aerinai (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree; Instead of legislating design, just legislate that if a COMPANY can repair a device, they make the equipment to do said repairs available. Apple has a device that can reauthorize the home button. Stores let you create new car keys. Auto manufacturers sell diagnostic tool kits…

It should be as simple as: if you make a device, and you have an in-house tool to repair it, you have to make it available to third parties as well.

Much simpler than telling companies they have to design things in a certain way…

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t like that Apple glues their battery in and it cannot be replaced, buy a different kind of phone.

Sure. I’ll just buy a Samsung. No, wait, an HTC. Sorry, what I meant to say was LG. I mean Motorola. No, Huawei. Shit. Sony?

Wait, surely the Essential Phone has a replaceable battery, right? I mean, it’s supposed to be modular; that’s its whole thing.

Battery 3,040 mAh, not user-replaceable

God damn it.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, there is: one of those two things exists.

If your definition of "user-serviceable" includes batteries that can be changed if you have the proper tools and instructions, then by your definition, literally all batteries are user-serviceable, including iPhone batteries. Congratulations, you’ve solved the problem of devices that aren’t user-serviceable by defining "user-serviceable" so broadly that it applies to all devices.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Some things just aren’t possible without tools. Versatile as they are, bare human hands can’t do everything. And modern waterproof smartphones just can’t be made with clip-on plastic battery covers.

Even car batteries need tools to replace. That doesn’t mean they aren’t serviceable.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Replacing a phone battery is <i>possible</i> with reasonable effort. It doesn’t <i>need</i> to be particularly convenient, because you don’t need to replace it often.

Other features, such as waterproofing, are more important than the convenience of a maintenance operation that’s only needed once every few years.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

More important to you, perhaps.

One of my friends and co-workers has a Samsung Galaxy S5, which is I think one of the last smartphone models with both expandable storage and a user-replaceable battery ever released. (I think I’ve heard of maybe as many as two others since that point, and probably fewer.)

He routinely carries two-to-four fully-charged replacement batteries around in his pocket, and when the phone runs down, he just shuts it off, pops it open, swaps in one of the full batteries, and is back in business. He charges the batteries overnight in a wall unit at home.

I carry the same model, for somewhat different reasons. In my case, I run LineageOS (currently a quite outdated version), and I moderately-infrequently see the OS crash or hang in one of a few ways that leave it not responding to the power button. When that happens, the only way to get the phone going again is to cut the power and do a cold boot.

With the Galaxy S5, that’s just a matter of removing the battery for a moment and then putting it back in, and I can be back in operation in less than a minute; with almost any newer model of smartphone, the only way to get the phone working again would be to wait for the battery to run all the way down, which would be likely to take hours at best.

Both of those benefits are comparable to the benefit of waterproofing, IMO; they’re just useful in different contexts from the context where waterproofing is useful. Neither of them would be viable with a battery that’s technically replaceable, but only with effort and the right tools.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Other features, such as waterproofing, are more important than the convenience of a maintenance operation that’s only needed once every few years.

You’re stating an opinion as a fact.

You’re going to have to do better than that. Give me some supporting evidence that:

  1. It is impossible to waterproof a phone without gluing the battery to the board;
  2. A plurality of customers share your opinion that waterproofing is a more important feature than an easily changed battery.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

literally all batteries are user-serviceable, including iPhone batteries.

People have said the iPhone battery probably is OK under this law (not easy, but the steps and tools are available and it takes 30 minutes). It’s the Apple AirPods that would be a problem. iFixIt couldn’t replace their batteries without destroying them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think I can replace the screen on my LG phone myself, does that violate this law?

Given that every mall seems to have an "independent repair provider" that can do it, no.

If you don’t like that Apple glues their battery in and it cannot be replaced, buy a different kind of phone.

It isn’t just about money, it’s about waste and the environmental impact. But a recycling program could solve that.

Sharur (profile) says:

Re: "Reasonable"

“Reasonable” is the word that introduces the subjectivity, and its all over the place in common law systems. The subjectivity is intentional, and incomes in three forms:

1. “I know it when I see it”: This is true subjectivity. It disallows rules to be skirted, to be followed to letter and bypass the spirit of the law, at the cost of lacking a clear black-and-white distinction between what is and is not allowed. It depends on the judgement of prosecutors, judges and juries, and the accused can argue
what is reasonable.

2. Declarations of “what is reasonable”, by a competent authority, not mentioned in (this) law. This authority could be a governmental agency’s regulation, scientific or industrial consensus, or trade group standards.

3. Some combination of the two. For example, you could have a “I know it when I see it” scenario with say, toilet technology, and the accused could present various defenses that what they did was reasonable, based on say the regulations of the local water department or the guidelines of a national organization of plumbers.

All of these are trying precisely regulate a moving technology, and are being writing (nominally) by politicians who are not guaranteed to have any idea of how these things work at the moment, much less how they will work in the future.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Limitations in an anti limitation bill

Electronics and firmware are what enables the problem. With the DMCA making it worse.

Inkjet cartridges for example. Electronics get added for the sole purpose of ensuring that ONLY the printer manufacturer’s cartridges will work with the printer. This can and has been reverse-engineered, but DMCA claims are used to prevent this.

The same thing happened with John Deere equipment. Electronics added just to prevent farmers from fixing it.

Car windows have come with built-in antennas and defrosting elements for several decades. Auto makers could follow the printer/device industry lead, and tie you to expensive branded replacement windows, oil and air filters, tires etc. But it’ll require electronics to make it happen.

Thad (user link) says:

I bought my grandma a used iMac for Christmas. She had a 2006 Core Duo model that had gotten slow and which didn’t support modern versions of the OS or web browsers.

(I could have switched her to Linux — I switched my grandpa, on the other side of the family, over to Mint last year and he got used to it — but her sight is going, and she may need a computer with voice control some day. GNU/Linux is still lagging behind Apple, MS, Google, and Amazon in terms of voice control, so I opted to stick with Apple.)

I bought the iMac on eBay. When I powered it on, it had no picture. After troubleshooting over the phone, I took it into an Apple Store; they kept it for a couple of days and fixed it, free of charge; they explained that the graphics card had just gotten disconnected. It probably got knocked loose in shipping.

It was a smooth and straightforward process, and I appreciate that I didn’t have to pay for it.

It’s also something I would have been able to fix in five minutes, myself, with no phone calls or trips to the mall, if the computer had been user-serviceable.

I understand there are benefits to Apple’s tightly-packed designs — they make for lighter, smaller machines. But the inconvenience just isn’t worth it.

Apple used to make towers. The "cheese grater" cases were great. But Apple’s not that company anymore — hell, Apple was barely that company then; the towers (PowerMac G4, G5, Mac Pro) never got the kind of attention that the other lines did.

I have a 2006 Mac Pro. I think it was a great machine, hamstrung by some issues with its EFI that made it go obsolete even though, in terms of CPU power, it’s got perfectly respectable specs for most tasks even today. I liked that Mac. But I wouldn’t buy another Mac for myself.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

I would like to know how microsoft gets in trouble for bundling I.E. in windows yet apple can tie hardware and software together, blatantly intentionally preventing competitors in either area and no one says boo

Yes, why is it that when a company with 94% of the market does it, it’s considered anticompetitive, and when a company with 12% of the market does it, it’s not? It’s a real puzzler.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Right heaven forbid we apply our laws equally.

Actually, in both cases company with large percentage of the market in one area (OS for microsoft and phone for apple) is bundling in something they have small market share (at the time, IE had very small market share in browser, O.S. for apple)

The real difference is microsoft was not actually tying you to their browser in any way, it was just the default.. Microsoft wasn’t actually being anti-competitive. Apple 100% is

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Right heaven forbid we apply our laws equally.

Monopoly laws only apply to monopolies, crade.

Actually, in both cases company with large percentage of the market in one area (OS for microsoft and phone for apple)

If we limit marketshare to "smartphones" instead of "all computing devices", then Apple sold 44% of the smartphones in the US in Q4. That’s a lot more than 12, but it’s still a minority. More people are buying non-Apple phones than are buying Apple ones.

If customers don’t like the Apple ecosystem, there are lots and lots of Android phones to choose from. There’s no issue with competition here.

The real difference is microsoft was not actually tying you to their browser in any way,

Except for the part where it was integrated into the OS shell and couldn’t be uninstalled, sure.

it was just the default..

Yes, it was the default. In that they made OEMs put it on the desktop. If an OEM didn’t put IE on the desktop, then it couldn’t ship Windows, the operating system used by 94% of the market.

But sure, once the user bought it, they could always just install Netscape. Say, how long does it take to download a 13MB file at 56kbps? Assuming the download doesn’t crap out halfway through and your call doesn’t drop.

Microsoft wasn’t actually being anti-competitive.

It seems like about once a month somebody here makes assertions about US v Microsoft that deny the basic facts of the case. I understand that it was a long time ago and you may not remember the details; that’s fine. But if you don’t remember them, just say so; don’t try and bluff.

Apple 100% is

Is that why Samsung has had such a problem getting a foothold in the smartphone market?

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Antitrust laws are not only for monopolies, they also outlaw restrictive practices (like locking hardware and software together) in general and are intended to prevent monopolies as well as other other negative results from anti-competitive behavior. It was the restrictive practices portion that was used against microsoft.

The argument was that Microsoft was using it’s influence in the O.S. market to try to take over other parts of the industry. They were also accused of predatory pricing by giving the browser away for free as a way to kill off competition in the browser market.

They never went anywhere close to as far as to tie the hardware to their O.S. completely and control any and all software that anyone could produce or run for windows. I can’t believe apple can get away with that.

Apple is by far not the only one in the software industry to be involved in these sort of practices. Their are many in the software market that try to lock consumers to their products with shady practices like this, including Microsoft who is far worse now than they ever were when they got in trouble for bundling. Apple is really brazen about it though. However that still doesn’t mean they aren’t all restrictive practices that should be stopped. In my view these practices are very harmful to the software industry.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The real difference is microsoft was not actually tying you to their browser in any way, it was just the default”

I’d read a lot more about the actual situation if I were you, and then realise why people were laughing at this claim (hint: the reason it was so objectionable is that IE was built into the OS and could not be removed). There’s a lot of reasons why it was anti-competitive and an abuse of monopoly, the simple bundling of the browser doesn’t even start to cover the real objections.

As for Apple / iOS – whose OS would you prefer they used? Are you saying that they should have released their phone with no OS installed at all, or are you saying they needed to work with other people to create the browser for them? Remember, this was before Android even existed, it’s not like people buying an iPhone could install something off the shelf.

That’s a rather dumb conflation of completely different things, and it seems to me that you really need to learn about the subject before complaining about how the situations were dealt with.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

As for Apple / iOS – whose OS would you prefer they used? Are you saying that they should have released their phone with no OS installed at all, or are you saying they needed to work with other people to create the browser for them? Remember, this was before Android even existed, it’s not like people buying an iPhone could install something off the shelf.

I’d guess he’s saying one or more of:

  • Apple shouldn’t lock down the hardware and prevent you from installing something other than iOS on it.
  • Apple shouldn’t restrict iOS to iPhones/iPads (etc.?) only; they should let you install it on any hardware you want.
  • Apple shouldn’t restric MacOS X to Mac hardware only; they should let you install it on any hardware you want.

The first runs up against the security-reasons objection, which might or might not hold water.

The second runs up against, even if nothing else, the basic problem of drivers. Which isn’t necessarily enough to completely counter the idea in principle, but does mean it would probably not make much difference in practice.

The third also runs up against the drivers problem (as well as the fact that, according to all reports I hear, Apple really are a hardware company and make their money on the hardware sales), but that’s mitigated in this case by the existences of the "Hackintosh" community, which revolves around defying Apple’s restrictions and actually getting MacOS X to install and run on non-Apple hardware – thus proving that the drivers problem is not always insurmountable.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Even if that is what he was saying, they’re all non-starters in terms of a real criticism. Especially in terms of the argument he’s trying to make, which is to draw false equivalence between Apple and MS. Probably because he’s either an anti-Apple fanboys and/or doesn’t understand what the actual objections to MS’s actions were.

The bottom line is – devices come with OSes installed – except if you specifically request barebones kit, which Apple does not supply. Those OSes are designed for specific hardware, and one of the things Apple built its reputation upon is the limited range of hardware (thus eliminating a lot of the driver problems associated with stability and security issues general purpose OSes). Apple are, and should not be, under any obligation to support a selection of hardware that they have not approved for use with the OS. Similarly, they should not be expected to support their hardware without the OS they have approved. This is all reasonable and above board.

If you wish, you can certainly install their OS on different hardware, they just won’t support you. As for making it difficult to install a new OS on an Apple device, that hold slightly more water but it’s not that much more difficult than trying to install a new OS on a Samsung phone or an XBox, for example, and it’s relatively reasonable to expect that they have some security in place in a world where people will install any random crap on their devices if they’re promised free stuff. You also need to take notice of things like the “trusted computing” initiative that MS have involved themselves in if you think this is a valid criticism, and consider that MS may appear to be trying to block FLOSS competitors at the hardware level. Something very notable, since people installing Linux on their PC is a hell of lot more likely than people installing Android on their iPhone. Finally, all of these arguments are undermined by the fact that Apple are nowhere near a monopoly in any market in which they operate, while MS was absolutely a monopoly when they were prosecuted for their actions. This makes a huge difference to the way actions are considered and dealt with.

Meanwhile, Microsoft absolutely leveraged their position by irrevocably tying 2 things together that had no business being combined, and they did this for the express purpose of gaining dominance in a market in which they were failing. The move caused a huge amount of damage and a great many problems for a lot of people for reasons not just related to consumer choice. Like them or not, they needed a legal beatdown at that time, and the entire industry is better off for the changes that happened as a result.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

…and it’s been like that since the app store was released, with them being fully open about the fact. I still don’t see the problem in a market as competitive as the one that exists.

When Microsoft had an almost complete monopoly on the desktop market and they were using tactics in violation of antitrust laws to leverage non-OS market presences, it was a real problem. Apple, not even having a majority presence in the smartphone market, let alone a monopoly, with major competitors offering real alternatives to everything they do? Not really the same kind of issue. If you don’t want to pay money to Apple, you really don’t have to.

I know people love to hate on Apple, but let’s leave it for the things they actually do that’s underhanded or unfair, not the well-documented walled garden approach they’ve had since day one for which there are hundreds of competing choices in the marketplace.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What apple is doing is analogous to car manufacturers intentionally preventing third parties from being able to make compatible parts (or charging them a fee for the privilege of making compatible parts). Sure, the manufacturer might not have a monopoly on car sales, but that doesn’t help out the competing parts makers or service companies much.

Rob Speed (profile) says:

I can see how things like glued-down batteries would be problematic for recycling, but it honestly isn’t for repairs. You just need to warm it up a bit and the glue becomes tacky–it’s designed that way.

And by some fun coincidence, I just replaced the battery in my iPhone 5S a few hours ago. Other than needing a non-standing pentalobe screwdriver (something that’s reasonable for repair shops to have) it was rather easy.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

I can see how things like glued-down batteries would be problematic for recycling, but it honestly isn’t for repairs.

Maybe not for the average Techdirt reader. That’s a pretty different demographic than the average iPhone buyer.

And even as somebody who’s technically savvy — I’m sure I could do it, but I’d really prefer not to. I miss being able to buy a phone where I could just pop the back off and swap the battery out. (Or a laptop, or a portable game system, or…)

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well, here’s the language from the article:

Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed “in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove.

I see two things in here:

One: Third-party repair centers should be permitted to repair devices.

Two: Batteries should be easy to replace.

These two issues are related but they’re not the same issue. It is reasonable to expect an end user to be able to change a battery. It is not reasonable to expect an end user to solder a new Lightning port onto a board. It is reasonable to assume that these two tasks should require different levels of skill: yes, an end user isn’t going to solder a new port on, but that doesn’t mean an end user shouldn’t be able to change a battery.

Rob Speed (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

but that doesn’t mean an end user shouldn’t be able to change a battery.

That seems completely contradictory to your last comment. You do think that replacing the battery is something any joe schmo should be able to do.

And that’s ridiculous. It completely ignores the design constraints of modern devices.

BostonPilot (profile) says:

An example of why we need this legislation

Hey, nothing that everybody else hasn’t experienced, but my son’s iPhone 5s camera died. He took it to an Apple store. Waited 2 hours for a “genius” to have the time to talk to him. Was told it was Apple’s policy not to repair those and that he needed a new phone.

He checked at a different Apple store just to be sure, same thing. So it’s really Apple’s policy.

He went to a 3rd party repair place and got it fixed for $50.

We need the Right To Repair laws so that 3rd parties can provide these sorts of services. Apple certainly is a long way down the road to Evil. Obligatory “if Steve was alive” comment suppressed.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...