Apple Wants You To Break Your Phone

The company’s fighting legislation that’d make it easier for you to repair it yourself.

You know that sinking feeling you get when your net worth falls from $775 billion to only $586 billion? I mean, what are you gonna do with $586 billion…buy a pack of gum?

That’s Apple’s conundrum right now. The poor tech giant, in its perennial struggle to outearn Google as the world’s most powerful company, must do anything it can to safeguard its profits. That includes protecting customers from the perils of repairing their broken gadgets.

Peter Cade/Getty

According to Motherboard’s Jason Koebler, Apple is ready to oppose “right to repair” legislation. This type of law — dubbed dangerous by Apple and other industry behemoths — would make fixing gadgets easier for consumers.

iFixIt’s Julia Bluff explains:

“The legislation would require manufacturers to release repair information to the public and sell spare parts to owners and independent repair shops. If passed, the laws would give consumers more options than just the manufacturer for repair.”

Sounds good, right? Not so, according to the electro-empire. Last year, for instance, New York’s proposed “Fair Repair Act” was squashed by Apple and its buddies IBM, Xerox and Cisco. Their argument? Third-party repairs would compromise the integrity of the product and pose a danger to those repairing it.

Seriously, Apple? A new iPhone costs $600–800. A new iPad starts at around $300 and runs to over a grand. Don’t get me started on the price of MacBooks. You’re telling consumers that you won’t publish diagnostic and service manuals because you’re afraid they’re gonna get boo-boos?

Star Wars Kid/Giphy

That’s absurd. Once I buy a product from a manufacturer, that product is mine to do with as I please. If I want to paint a Wiffle bat green and pretend I’m a Jedi, that’s my prerogative as an American. Similarly, if I want to bolt a spoiler onto my Nissan Sentra, fair play!

For Apple to claim dominion over repairing its products is a greedy, ugly and unethical thing to do. Right now, consumers have only two options: have Apple repair their broken gizmo or visit a shop that pays a fee for the privilege of fixing Mac products. That’s right—Apple charges professional repairmen a fee to become “authorized” fixer-uppers.

Apart from the bogus “people will get hurt” argument, is there any other reason we shouldn’t be allowed to fix our own stuff? AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell defends the company’s stance on unauthorized repair-folk:

“Offering repairs through authorized outlets like Apple stores and vetted shops provide customers with a consistent experience, Apple contends. Further, an authorized repair network helps the company control and protect its various hardware platforms.”

Forget the vagueness of the phrase “consistent experience.” (Consistent with what? All your other gadgets that still work?) The notion that Apple considers itself vulnerable to hardware theft is laughable. Picture Joe Mechanic disassembling an iProduct and replicating its hardware for his own gain. Now picture Mr. Mechanic awash in a sea of legal fees as the multi-billion-dollar company eviscerates him Dothraki-style.

Apparently, this is nothing new. These bogus claims have been printing money for Apple and its ilk since the dawn of tech:

“The idea that it’s ‘unsafe’ to repair your own devices is one that manufacturers have been promoting for years. Last year, industry lobbyists told lawmakers in Minnesota that broken glass could cut the fingers of consumers who try to repair their screens, according to Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Byrne said she will also testify at the Nebraska hearing and ‘plans to bring band aids.’”
‘The Simpsons’

First of all, hats off to Ms. Gordon-Byrne. That Band-Aid dig is something else. If only this sort of legislative beef was settled according to who drops the fieriest diss…

Second of all, what other industry gets away with this? Can you imagine the outcry if Mercedes-Benz declined to provide manuals? Why should companies with comparatively new technology be exempt from the same rules and regs that automakers have been practicing for decades?

It would be one thing if Apple provided any compelling argument for its obstinate refusal to outsource repair duty to Mom and Pop. It would be palatable, maybe, if Apple’s own repair services made financial sense to the consumer! (They don’t: A broken iPad screen sans warranty will run you $599 through Apple Repair, as opposed to $675 for a new device.) And it might even be less of a pebble in our collective shoe if this nutso practice wasn’t littering the planet with “e-waste” — any type of electronic trash that doesn’t get recycled.

Look: Apple isn’t the only company to engage in this sort of repair monopoly. (John Deere and Samsung do the same thing.) But as the undisputed largest and most profitable tech company in the world, they’ve got the same great-power-great-responsibility tangle that plagued Peter Parker. For the sake of the planet, for the sake of small business, and for the sake of your customers — do the right thing, Apple, and publish a fucking manual.