Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why “prevent” you from repairing cell phones, computers

This article is from WeChat public number: APPSO (ID: appsolution), author: Zhou Yu

There are more and more cell phone repair stores.

If you have paid attention, you can easily find that there are more and more cell phone repair stores and accessory stores around your home, which may confirm a widely circulated paragraph – it is better to open a store to sell cell phones than to sell cell phone accessories to make money.

However, the increase in cell phone repair stores, and not let people repair cell phones become more easy, after all, the phone can be repaired is not entirely by the repair store decision, but the cell phone manufacturers.

Bloomberg recently interviewed a long-term repair of computers, cell phones and other electronic products repair store owner Justin Millman, the results found that Microsoft, Apple, Google and other large companies are “hindering” the repair of electronic products.

First, the lack of parts, hardware lock, repair electronics is far more difficult than imagined

Many people have the impression that electronics repair is profitable, wholesale parts are very cheap and can be replaced in less than half an hour, but people have to pay several times the price of parts to repair.

Millman gave some different impressions in the interview, he often had to refuse many “profitable” repair orders, the reason is not his skills, but the lack of parts.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

In the case of his frequent Chromebooks, a device that has made a splash in the education sector in recent years, with sales rising at a rapid rate and a cheap price that is popular with students, the Chromebooks rely heavily on the WiFi module, and the various cloud-based applications are fundamental to them.

The order Millman rejected was for a broken WiFi module on a Chromebook, and he was not on the appropriate repair vendor program, so he couldn’t get a custom WiFi module from the manufacturer, and it couldn’t be repaired.

This has led to a hot market for parts, with Millman spending hours each morning browsing more than 25 e-commerce platforms for specific parts for different Chromebook models.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

The repair market is much larger than expected, and he works with schools to repair more than 2,000 Chromebooks and iPads a month.

The flow of original and used parts goes some way toward meeting the repair needs of third-party store owners like Millman, but the manufacturers’ restrictions don’t end there.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

Apple uses security chips to lock user information and even the computer’s hard drive in order to ensure the safety of user data.

Once a used recycler receives a Mac that has not been erased, they have no choice but to disassemble the parts and sell them, and the price difference between used Macs and parts is huge.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

The same security chip unit is found in other Apple devices. iFixit has tried to replace the third-party camera for the iPhone 12, and the replacement iPhone 12 was unable to shoot with the ultra-wide angle lens or use portrait lighting effects.

The lack of custom parts and hardware lockups have reduced the reach of third-party repairers, and students who damaged only one WiFi module have had to go out and buy a new Chromebook.

It seems that the increase in Chromebook sales during the outbreak, in addition to the spike in demand for online classes, the increased difficulty and slowdown in transferring parts during the outbreak was a major factor, and Millman said in an interview that repair orders increased during the outbreak.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

The dilemma Millman encountered is a microcosm of the entire electronics repair market, not only cell phones and computers, but also video game consoles with longer life cycles. Most manufacturers choose custom parts for key components, and third-party repair stores lacking in official repair suppliers often do not get the appropriate parts.

Every year because of the lack of maintenance and scrapped countless electronic products, resulting in a lot of waste at the same time is not conducive to environmental protection.

According to RIPG, a U.S. public interest research organization, 23.7 million tons of raw materials are consumed each year in the U.S. alone for the production of smartphones, and the organization estimates that if consumers in the U.S. use smartphones for one more year, the reduction in emissions would be equivalent to 636,000 cars.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

▲ Unrepairable leads to a large number of electronic products reduced to electronic waste. Image from: NationSwell

When confronted with environmental groups and regulatory agencies, Microsoft, Apple and other companies commonly cite “safety” as the reason.

Second, repair laws have been proposed many times, but the adoption rate is not high

Faced with technology companies on the repair restrictions, regulators are not without ideas, through legislation to improve is one of the most influential programs, and in the automotive industry has a corresponding history of success stories.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

In 2012, Massachusetts has a corresponding repair law, the law requires car manufacturers, dealers to third-party repair stores to disclose information about the car system, in order to facilitate third-party repair stores independent repair.

A friend of mine previously told me that many home appliances will be in the manual attached to the product circuit diagram, if you have a certain degree of professional knowledge, repair their own appliances is not particularly difficult.

This would have been a good thing, but the repair law was not adopted on a global scale, and its application is difficult to expand to cell phones, computers and other common electronic products, large trade bodies and even Microsoft and other large technology companies are among the roadblocks.

TechNet, a trade organization representing Google, Apple and many other large technology companies, has sent several letters to legislatures to discourage the passage of the repair law, with the result that, as TechNet had hoped, more than 25 states in the U.S. alone decided not to pass the repair bill in 2020.

Microsoft’s reason for this is that the repair bill would fundamentally destroy their intellectual property rights, which is not nonsense. After releasing detailed information about the product’s components, what if someone buys the core parts and assembles them according to the information, producing pirated and inferior products for sale?

Another reason is “safety”, such as Millman third-party repairers are not certified by Microsoft, Apple and other large companies, in case of a safety incident people’s trust in the product will be greatly reduced, which is not only consumers do not want to see, technology companies are also the same.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

In addition, although Apple is one of the many large companies that have opened their services to third-party repair stores earlier, its IRP service also has slow review and limited open repair scope and other restrictions, Millman said that even if they participate in Apple’s open third-party service provider program, they also can not get iPad screen parts.

It seems that the reasons of the big companies are not unfounded, but some consumers think that this is just an excuse, it is just a reason for technology companies to “plan out” electronic products, so that consumers can not repair and go to buy new products, so as to get more revenue.

But there is no denying the fact that cell phones, computers and other use cycle is getting longer and longer, on the one hand, the chip performance growth, to run smoothly for a longer period of time, on the other hand, the system update support cycle is also getting longer.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

Previously, Google and Qualcomm reached a cooperation to share part of the upgrade adaptation work, so that phones equipped with Qualcomm chips can support 4 years of Android system updates and security updates, and enhance the update speed.

Apple benefits from the advantages of hardware and software system update cycle has been very long, the latest iOS 14 system to do nearly 6 years of system update support. But system updates can also be problematic, as iOS 14.5.1 had a random downgrade problem, although Apple later fixed the problem.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

In contrast, drop damage, reduced battery life, etc. on the use cycle of electronic products more directly, the lack of parts or hardware lock will make them unable to continue to use, it is clear that the importance of the repair method.

Third, a longer replacement cycle will give rise to more repair needs

In the PC field there was a famous Andy Beer’s law, to the effect that the growth of computer performance needs to be stronger performance needs of the software to eat, which can promote the healthy development of the computer market cycle, and continue to push the new.

This is actually an intuitive description of the relationship between supply and demand in the field of electronic products, it can also be applied to a number of electronic products such as cell phones, after more than ten years of development, whether computers or cell phones have entered a highly mature period.

Most of the low-end and mid-range products on the market can already meet most of the basic experience, and the experience upgrade brought by new products and technologies is limited, which has given rise to a longer computer and cell phone use cycle and further growth of the replacement cycle.

According to a report released by China Mobile Terminal Laboratory, the average replacement cycle of cell phone users in China reached 25.3 months in 2020, and the proportion of damaged cell phones among the reasons for replacement was 25.6 percent.

This fully illustrates that the demand for repair is growing, and if the cell phone and computer markets remain in their current state of development, the demand for repair will only increase in the future, and the soaring demand will naturally give rise to new business models and even institutions.

Repair portal iFixit is a microcosm of the new business under the high demand, providing repair tutorials like an encyclopedia, and relying on the sale of repair tools and repair solutions to gain revenue.

At the same time, the rising demand will also give rise to more repairers like iFixit to enter the game, and the vote of consumers will push the winners and the losers, and the survival space of those small repairers who used to swap parts and repair illegally will become narrower and narrower.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

Regulators for large companies are also pushing the envelope, the EU region on the repair law is very important, but before France passed a new law requiring electronics manufacturers to mark the repairable score next to their products, through this to inform consumers of the difficulty of repairing products, and thus promote manufacturers to make easier to repair products.

The law worked quickly after it was introduced, and Samsung soon added a detailed online repair guide to its product Galaxy S21 Plus for people to refer to, which can also improve the repairability score of the product.

Apple, Microsoft, these large companies why "prevent" you from repairing cell phones, computers

The EU region has passed a law requiring the repair period of appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and hair dryers in the 27 member states to reach 10 years, providing repair guidelines while ensuring that the relevant parts are also required to reach 10 years of use.

In the foreseeable future, cell phones, computers and other electronic products will remain one of our commonly used tools, and the growth of the use cycle will only make the topic of repair more and more attention, related commercial organizations, repair law has not yet been fully adopted, but people for it has become more and more important.

The advancement of relevant laws will only allow consumers to enjoy better and more convenient repair services.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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