from the really-now? dept
The past two Techdirt podcasts had special guest Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, discussing both the DMCA’s anti-circumvention review process and the more general importance of the freedom to tinker. In those podcasts, Wiens talked a bit about some companies being more willing than others to support iFixit’s efforts to help people repair or modify products they had purchased.
Apple, apparently, is not a fan.
The company, which is famous for its somewhat arbitrary decisions to reject certain apps from appearing in its iTunes store, has now pulled iFixit’s app entirely. Though, this time it’s not necessarily for “arbitrary” reasons, but because Apple is pissed that iFixit took the Apple TV device that Apple sent the company, and did a teardown on it.
Of course, that makes you wonder what the hell Apple expected iFixit to do, since teardowns are kind of its thing.
Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn?t intend for us to take it apart. But we?re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA?and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.
A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions?and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit?s app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken ?actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program.?
Live and learn.
iFixit notes that it’s not too concerned about this. Its Android app still works, and it’s been improving its mobile site so you don’t really need an app in the first place. And also, iFixit offers open APIs that would allow others to make their own apps that use iFixit data (though whether or not Apple would approve such an app is another question).
But, still, in this age where so much of what we buy is computerized and a complete black box, one of the key points of last week’s podcast was the importance of learning what’s really inside these boxes. Given that Apple’s earliest roots come from Steve Wozniak hacking around devices and building something better, it seems like a real shame that Apple is not only not supporting such activities with its own equipment, but it’s actively punishing those who do so.