Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

As Apple Fights ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation, Internal Documents Show That the Company Is Capable of Fulfilling Its Goals In Part

As Apple lobbies against right to repair legislation in the United States and Canada — often with ludicrous arguments — internal documents leaked to Jason Koebler of Vice suggest that the company could make device repairs a lot better for customers:

According to the presentation, titled “Apple Genuine Parts Repair” and dated April 2018, the company has begun to give some repair companies access to Apple diagnostic software, a wide variety of genuine Apple repair parts, repair training, and notably places no restrictions on the types of repairs that independent companies are allowed to do. The presentation notes that repair companies can “keep doing what you’re doing, with … Apple genuine parts, reliable parts supply, and Apple process and training.”

This is, broadly speaking, what right to repair activists have been asking state legislators to require companies to offer for years.

Koebler’s characterization of these changes as “broadly speaking, what right to repair activists have been asking [for]” is overly generous. He’s really letting the word “broadly” take most of the weight in that sentence. The objectives of the organization that has spurred the right to repair discussion indicate that they would like equal access to repair tools, parts, and manuals for companies and end users alike. However, this presentation indicates that Apple is providing only a select group of Apple repair shops access to parts and information.

I find it frustrating that Apple — and others — are working so hard to kill legislation rather than trying to find a middle ground closer to what they’re already doing. There are certainly components in a highly-miniaturized device that would not be sensible for most users to repair or replace themselves — though I do think battery and screen replacements should be doable by customers. (And they are, by the way; I have done both for friends’ devices.) Of course, it is less freeing that so much of our computing these days is obfuscated and less welcoming to tinkering, but that may be a price we must pay to have devices that feel less like an assemblage of parts.

Still, I can see nothing but good for users in helping third parties get the right tools and parts to do these repairs. It makes sense that technicians should be trained and certified. Customers should be provided proof that can be verified with Apple that their repair was completed with genuine parts and to their specifications. But getting devices repaired should be as easy as possible for users. We rely on these products.