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Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday testified in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee where he was questioned on Apple's App Store policies, but Congress also released a series of emails that Apple had submitted as part of the ongoing antitrust investigation.

ifixitteardown11promax.jpg
Image via iFixit

Those emails revealed Apple's thoughts on App Store fees and provided insight into its efforts to negotiate deals with Amazon, but there were also emails on other topics, including the ongoing Right to Repair battle that Apple has been fighting against independent repair shops.

Repair site iFixit is part of the Right to Repair fight and today highlighted Apple's internal discussions about Right to Repair and the context surrounding those discussions, which is an interesting read for those who support the Right to Repair movement.

For those unfamiliar with Right to Repair, it's legislation that mandates that consumers should be able to repair their own devices, and that electronics companies like Apple should provide repair parts and repair manuals to all repair shops, rather than just Apple Authorized Service Providers.

Apple has lobbied heavily against Right to Repair, but internally, emails suggest Apple has been uncertain about its position and how it wants to handle repairs in the future. As an example, Apple scrambled to figure out its narrative when The New York Times in April 2019 wrote an op-ed in favor of the movement.

"The larger issue is that our strategy around all of this is unclear. Right now we're talking out of both sides of our mouth and no one is clear on where we're headed," reads the email.

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An internal Apple email on repair shared with the subcommittee​

Later in 2019, iFixit discovered iMac repair manuals online and questioned Apple about it. iFixit received no response, but according to the emails shared with Congress, it sparked internal discussion. From an email between Apple PR execs:
Right now, it's pretty clear things are happening in a vacuum and there is not an overall strategy. Plus, with one hand we are making these changes and the other is actively fighting Right to Repair legislation moving in 20 states without real coordination for how updated policies could be used to leverage our position."
As it turned out, Apple released the iMac manuals for the EPEAT green certification standard, and not all teams at Apple were aware those manuals were being uploaded nor was everyone in favor of it. Apple did not ultimately remove the manuals, but has not posted further repair instructions online.

Multiple states have introduced Right to Repair legislation, but lobbying from Apple and other companies like John Deere has prevented it from passing. Apple continually cites customer safety as the reason why repairs need to be restricted.

In fact, to persuade California lawmakers not to pass Right to Repair legislation, Apple's lobbyists took apart an iPhone and explained how customers could harm themselves if the lithium-ion battery is punctured. Apple has also said that it wants to assure customers that their products will be "repaired safely and correctly," as the reasoning behind not opening up repairs to all repair shops.

Even as it fights Right to Repair legislation, Apple has been making some moves to attempt to appease those pushing for expanded repair access. Apple in August 2019 introduced an Independent Repair Provider Program that provides independent repair businesses with genuine Apple parts, tools, training and repair manuals, but it does require repair shops to sign onerous contracts to get access.

iFixit does, of course, heavily advocate for Right to Repair policies so the piece on Apple's uncertainty over how to handle the shifting demand for access to repairs is somewhat biased, but the full article is worth a read for those who are interested in better access to repairs.

Article Link: iFixit Highlights Apple's Uncertain Right to Repair Stance Through Emails Shared With Judiciary Committee
 

quagmire

macrumors 604
Apr 19, 2004
6,930
2,381
I do not buy the, " We do not want people to do the repair themselves for their own safety" line.

I can buy the line of protecting customers by making sure only Apple parts are used in repairs. But the solution is then to make the parts available to repair shops. But then the issue becomes customers will always go for the cheapest solution. Repair shop, " You want OEM parts? That will be a $150 repair. We can do it for $80 if you want to use generic parts." The customer will then opt for the $80 charge then you have a suspect knockoff battery in the phone.
 

iBluetooth

macrumors 6502a
Mar 29, 2016
698
1,921
Who will be responsible for a badly repaired phone or when something stops working after home repair? What if the device has been sold to a buyer that didn't know it was repaired by the owner?
I like to have the right to repair, but what should incapable people have the right to do?
 

LawJolla

macrumors regular
Sep 29, 2013
197
1,363
Right to repair is an obvious step. For the "what happens when..." crowd, one need to look no further than cars. OEMs authorize franchises to repair their vehicles, but any other number of unauthorized shops can also do the repairs. The OEMs make the parts and knowledge available to everyone to facilitate the free market.

Would anyone like to revert to the model where only BMW authorized shops can touch a BMW?
 

Mr_Brightside_@

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2005
3,760
2,107
Toronto
Who will be responsible for a badly repaired phone or when something stops working after home repair? What if the device has been sold to a buyer that didn't know it was repaired by the owner?
I like to have the right to repair, but what should incapable people have the right to do?
Go to an Apple or AASP, just like now. Right to repair doesn't mean self repair as the only option. It means providing the guides, tools, and parts to do a home repair with OEM parts.
 

CWallace

macrumors G5
Aug 17, 2007
12,276
11,085
Seattle, WA
I do want to see Apple to continue to expand their Independent Repair Provider Program to increase end-users access to service providers that can gain access to Apple genuine parts, tools, training, service guides and diagnostics.

And I want to see that program expand beyond just iPhones to also include at least iPads and Macs.



I expect there is a strong liability concern behind Apple's stance.

It is pretty much a given that if someone takes an out of warranty Apple product to a non-authorized repair shop that uses a non-Apple part and that part/repair subsequently fails in a way that causes personal injury (like a battery fire), Apple will be part of the subsequent personal injury lawsuit even though they were nowhere in the chain.
 

ElitistWhiner

macrumors member
Jul 30, 2020
36
9
Without " Right to Repair" consumers are forced into a "Refurbished" rent machine purchasing repaired phones with their trade-in needing fixed.

Imagine trading in your Tesla to get a refurbished Tesla that works. Were Apple to provide a FixIt Counter rather than only a Genius Bar then repair services would be mute IMHO. But Apple sells phones so repair is not even offered unless you reject a new phone trade-in, refurb only then they'll send it in. Albeit, you are phone-less.
 

ian87w

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2020
8,704
12,637
Indonesia

iBluetooth

macrumors 6502a
Mar 29, 2016
698
1,921
Go to an Apple or AASP, just like now. Right to repair doesn't mean self repair as the only option. It means providing the guides, tools, and parts to do a home repair with OEM parts.
Exactly this *right for home repair* is what scares me. At work one girl came to me with an iPhone asking how to get the button working. The iPhone had been fixed by her friend who was a qualified electrician, that watched a Youtube video of changing the screens, but did something wrong with the button. I recommended she would go to a qualified Apple repair shop, that was surprisingly willing to fix it for USD 50.
 
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Brandon916

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2018
189
291
Who will be responsible for a badly repaired phone or when something stops working after home repair? What if the device has been sold to a buyer that didn't know it was repaired by the owner?
I like to have the right to repair, but what should incapable people have the right to do?
What is the difference between a car? Should we make it illegal to repair our own car at home because we want to protect our customers? That sounds insane.
 

iBluetooth

macrumors 6502a
Mar 29, 2016
698
1,921
Without " Right to Repair" consumers are forced into a "Refurbished" rent machine purchasing repaired phones with their trade-in needing fixed.

Imagine trading in your Tesla to get a refurbished Tesla that works. Were Apple to provide a FixIt Counter rather than only a Genius Bar then repair services would be mute IMHO. But Apple sells phones so repair is not even offered unless you reject a new phone trade-in, refurb only then they'll send it in. Albeit, you are phone-less.
Refurb comes with guarantees and in many cases is just as good as a new part.
 

ian87w

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2020
8,704
12,637
Indonesia
I do not buy the, " We do not want people to do the repair themselves for their own safety" line.

I can buy the line of protecting customers by making sure only Apple parts are used in repairs. But the solution is then to make the parts available to repair shops. But then the issue becomes customers will always go for the cheapest solution. Repair shop, " You want OEM parts? That will be a $150 repair. We can do it for $80 if you want to use generic parts." The customer will then opt for the $80 charge then you have a suspect knockoff battery in the phone.
Consider the lawsuit-happy nation like the US, I can understand why Apple adopted that stance.
 

CJ Dorschel

Cancelled
Dec 14, 2019
407
808
Berlin
My biggest concern is more about user upgradability with iMacs and MacBooks, etc as allowing people who own their systems access to RAM, drives, etc would allow consumers the ability to easily repair systems. You can easily upgrade the Mac Pro with third-party parts yet Apple has consistently made it difficult for users to upgrade ram and solid-state drives etc. in their other products.

if Apple trusts consumers to add third-party components to the Mac Pro then certainly they should make their other systems more upgradable which would also facilitate repairs on systems especially for systems that are no longer covered under AppleCare. Soldering drives and RAM and other components on to logic boards for design aesthetics and Apples obsession with “thin” makes it impossible for people who own their devices to repair and upgrade them. Most people are tech savvy enough to handle RAM and drive replacements, etc IF Apple makes those components accessible again as Mac’s of previous years. This would also lessen the need for third party repair centers to fight Apple at every turn.

The internal emails also indicate a lack of proper leadership at corporate as no one seems to be taking control of this matter.
 
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Brandon916

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2018
189
291
It's not illegal to fix your phone, just as the car. It's not the legality that I am worried about. It's the people that think they can do this after one Youtube video.
Apple was trying to pass a bill in California trying to make it illegal to fix your phone yourself. What are you talking about. Dude, Apple is hella shaddy for that. They are not on the customer side.
[automerge]1596131570[/automerge]
The car manufacturer!
Eh wrong. People buy second hand cars all the time. Check craiglist. Those cars have been worked on by regular people.
 
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