Apple fucked us on right to repair (again)
Today (September 22), I’m (virtually) presenting at the DIG Festival in Modena, Italy. Tonight, I’ll be in person at LA’s Book Soup for the launch of Justin C Key’s The World Wasn’t Ready for You. On September 27, I’ll be at Chevalier’s Books in Los Angeles with Brian Merchant for a joint launch for my new book The Internet Con and his new book, Blood in the Machine.
Right to repair has no cannier, more dedicated adversary than Apple, a company whose most innovative work is dreaming up new ways to sneakily sabotage electronics repair while claiming to be a caring environmental steward, a lie that covers up the mountains of e-waste that Apple dooms our descendants to wade through.
Why does Apple hate repair so much? It’s not that they want to poison our water and bodies with microplastics; it’s not that they want to hasten the day our coastal cities drown; it’s not that they relish the human misery that accompanies every gram of conflict mineral. They aren’t sadists. They’re merely sociopathically greedy.
Tim Cook laid it out for his investors: when people can repair their devices, they don’t buy new ones. When people don’t buy new devices, Apple doesn’t sell them new devices. It’s that’s simple:
So Apple does everything it can to monopolize repair. Not just because this lets the company gouge you on routine service, but because it lets them decide when your phone is beyond repair, so they can offer you a trade-in, ensuring both that you buy a new device and that the device you buy is another Apple.
There are so many tactics Apple gets to use to sabotage repair. For example, Apple engraves microscopic Apple logos on the subassemblies in its devices. This allows the company to enlist US Customs to seize and destroy refurbished parts that are harvested from dead phones by workers in the Pacific Rim:
Of course, the easiest way to prevent harvested components from entering the parts stream is to destroy as many old…