Companies must make it easier to repair hardware, and Steve Wozniak agrees.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has hit out against Apple’s long-standing opposition to the right-to-repair movement, reasoning that companies like Apple wouldn’t be around today without the option to repair hardware without fear of reprisal.
The right-to-repair is an ongoing battle between consumer groups and major tech companies. The latter restricts repair options, controls authorized technicians and refuses to issue official spare parts.
But now, Wozniak is calling out Apple’s attacks on the right-to-repair, imploring the tech powerhouse to allow owners to fix and tinker with their hardware, just as he did in the development of Apple.
Woz to Apple: “It’s Time to Start Doing the Right Things.”
In a nine-minute video call to right-to-repair campaigner Louis Rossmann, Wozniak delivered heartfelt support to the cause.
The focal point of his argument? Apple wouldn’t have got off the ground without the ability for people like himself and fellow Apple co-founder Steve Jobs being able to take hardware apart, to tinker, fix, and modify, and to repair with impunity.
So why stop them? Why stop the self-repair community?
Wozniak also acknowledged that shipping the Apple II (Apple’s second consumer microcomputer) with design schematics was a major part of its success.
Apple Reportedly Lobbying Against the Right-to-Repair
The right-to-repair movement wants governments worldwide to enshrine access to information and spare parts for hardware in law.
Currently, right-to-repair laws vary massively from country to country. Typically, companies are under no obligation to provide detailed breakdowns of their products to make repairs easier or provide official spare parts that match specific machines or schematics.
Companies like Apple have allegedly lobbied extensively against the right-to-repair, persuading lawmakers that consumers are likely to hurt themselves while attempting to fix their hardware. In one example, an Apple lobbyist claimed that consumers would pierce the Lithium-ion batteries found in iPhones, potentially causing serious harm.
In another example, Apple vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said that Apple’s iPhones are “too complex” for the average user to fix.
Right-to-Repair Argument Gathering Pace
The winds are beginning to shift, though. Companies that sell consumer electronics in the UK and EU, such as hairdryers, TVs, and washing machines, must now ensure those goods can be repaired for up to 10 years.
In practical terms, it means companies must embrace design and manufacturing that allows regular consumers better opportunities to fix their hardware without damaging other aspects of it, while official spare parts should become easier to obtain through official channels.
In the US, nearly every state proposed some form of right-to-repair in 2020. However, in 2021, only one state, Massachusetts, has enshrined the bill into law. As more prominent names lend support to the consumer right-to-repair, expect the balance to continue tipping, pushing some power back into the hands of consumers.
When old technology broke, you could fix yourself. If that failed, you could find a repair shop. With newer products, those options are disappearing. Let’s talk about the importance of the Right to Repair.
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