Monday, 13 June 2016 17:55

Apple fights bids to make product repairs cheaper Featured

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Apple was in the spotlight earlier this year when it took up cudgels on behalf of its customers' privacy, refusing to bow to a FBI demand to decrypt customer data.

But the Cupertino giant does not always come down on the side of those who use its products as is evident from its attempts to block bids by US states to make repair of Apple devices cheaper.

According to a published report, Apple is fighting "right to repair" amendments being considered by the US states of Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and New York.

Given the difficulty in gaining access to the innards of most current Apple devices, these amendments would make it mandatory for Apple to provide unofficial repair shops with the necessary information needed to fix broken devices.

The difference in the cost of repair between Apple and other repair shops was illustrated in the report, with the replacement of a cracked touchscreen on an iPad costing US$599 plus shipping at Apple, when a new device was available from Amazon for US$674.88.

This is something I have experienced myself: when the hard drive on my son's iMac died, I took it to Apple rather than replace it myself, having experienced once how difficult it is to find the correct instructions to open up this device. Apple charged me $254, with a 1TB hard drive costing more than $200. On the open market, I could have got that drive for around $80.

Apple is the world's richest technology company with a stash of cash estimated at more than US$200 billion.

Broken devices have necessarily to be discarded, adding to the world's pile of e-waste. They are often smashed to the extent possible and whatever can be salvaged is taken for re-use. Apple recently showed off a robot called Liam that can be used to dismantle an iPhone that could fix this problem.

While Apple recycles a big amount of its own e-waste, the company has lobbied against "right to repair" laws in Massachusetts and New York.

Asked for a response by the publication, Apple pointed to its 2016 Environmental Report that says it co-operates with 160 recycling programmes around the world, maintaining high standards.

Lobbying is not the only step Apple takes to fight against third-party repairers. Earlier this year, it disabled iPhones which it detected had been fixed by unofficial sources. But it had to back down due to the public reaction.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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