Why is Apple blocking Right to Repair legislation?

August 26, 2022

US states are aggressively advancing "Right to Repair" legislation, but tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google are actively taking various measures to lobby the government to block the "Right to Repair" bill effective. In 2021 alone, 27 U.S. states are considering enacting “right to repair” bills, but more than half of them have already been rejected or dismissed. Among them, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith also discussed the issue of "right to repair" with states in the United States. Brad Smith said that the legislation of "right to repair" is a hazard to Microsoft's development.

The Fair Repair Act, or "right to repair", is actually designed to protect consumers' right to repair, and the right to repair here refers to the right to allow consumers to repair products by themselves, or to allow third parties other than the manufacturer to repair the product. Repairs are possible. To this end, hardware manufacturers should disclose information such as schematic drawings of their products and sell spare parts to third-party repair shops.

The reason why tech companies such as Apple oppose the right to repair is that this solution may cause damage to the device, consumers will hurt themselves when trying to repair the device, or it will allow hackers to gain access to thousands of Internet devices. digital key. Of course, the claims of these technology companies are not completely unreasonable. After all, maintenance cannot mean 100% success. This is true even with official maintenance channels, but official channels can ensure that product problems within the warranty period are properly resolved.

But in many viewpoints, this does not mean that manufacturers have the right to make decisions on behalf of users. After all, whether it is equipment damage or hurting themselves during repairs, it is the consumer's own right. As for the so-called security issues, this is even more untenable. Even without the right to repair bill, Apple, Google, and Microsoft can't actually stop consumers from sending their devices to third-party repairers, or Malicious hackers buy it and crack it.

Of course, the technology companies obstructing the Right to Repair Act are basically not for the revenue generated by the official repair business. According to Apple, in response to detailed inquiries from U.S. lawmakers on antitrust issues in the technology industry, "since 2009, the cost of providing repair services has exceeded the revenue generated by repairs." As we all know, Apple's official repair service price is very high. A battery often costs more than 500 yuan, and a screen can easily reach about 2,000 yuan, but it claims that it does not obtain economic benefits from the repair service.

In fact, it is normal for both Apple and Google to not benefit from their own after-sales system. Different from scattered third-party maintenance service providers, the maintenance of these enterprises is usually global, whether it is the procurement, storage, and use of accessories, the training of various maintenance personnel, or the recycling and harmless treatment of end-of-life products. , all of which have high operating costs for their official after-sales department.

In the eyes of many industry insiders, companies such as Apple oppose the Right to Repair Act, or more precisely, to oppose the act's requirement to disclose information such as product schematics. With the increasingly high integration of consumer electronic products, the amount of information in product schematics is also increasing, especially in designs such as EMC (electromagnetic compatibility), which are also the "secrets that are not shared" by various companies. ”, while also being a very valuable asset. Not long ago, a Russian hacker group REvil hacked into the server of Apple's foundry, Quanta Computer, and obtained files such as the schematic diagram of the new MacBook, for which it demanded a ransom of $50 million from Apple.

And the importance of product schematics today is that with the advancement of technology and the diffusion of knowledge, the design and manufacture of electronic products is not as unattainable as it was decades ago. And once the Right to Repair Act becomes a foregone conclusion, these companies publishing product maps means providing "ammunition" to places like "Huaqiangbei". You must know that even in the case of Apple's strict defense, AirPods and other products produced by cottage manufacturers can already be faked. If there is an official schematic diagram, it may not be fake but "official genuine".

Coupled with the justification of the right to repair, it will inevitably lead to the ability of third-party companies to obtain refurbished products, which means that a huge gap has been opened in the closely-knit ecology of major manufacturers such as Apple, and the market will appear out of their control. However, the actual experience is close to the genuine product. This may not only make their own official remakes unsellable, but even involve new products.

This is why Apple emphasizes the training of third-party repairers in its own independent repairer program, which is undoubtedly a way to take the initiative in its own hands. In other words, as long as the “teach a man to fish” clauses such as product schematics still exist in the Right to Repair Act, technology companies such as Apple will do everything possible to prevent it from being passed.



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