Businesses need to make it easier to fix hardware, and Steve Wozniak agrees.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has resisted Apple’s longstanding opposition to the right to repair movement, arguing that companies like Apple would no longer exist today without the ability to repair hardware without fear of retaliation.
The right to repair is an ongoing battle between consumer groups and big technology 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, invoking the tech powerhouse to allow owners to fix and tinker with their hardware, just like he did when he created Apple.
Woz to Apple: “It’s time to do the right things.”
In a nine-minute video call to Right-to-Repair activist Louis Rossmann, Wozniak gave his heartfelt support.
The focus of his argument? Apple would not have got off the ground if people like him and his Apple co-founder Steve Jobs were able to disassemble, tinker, fix, modify, and fix hardware with impunity.
So why stop them? Why stop the self-repair community?
Wozniak also acknowledged that supplying the Apple II (Apple’s second consumer microcomputer) with design schemes was an important part of its success.
Apple is supposed to lobby against the right to repair
The right-to-repair movement wants governments around the world to legislate access to information and replacement parts for hardware.
Currently, the laws governing the right to repair vary greatly from country to country. Typically, companies are not required to provide detailed breakdowns of their products to facilitate repairs, or to provide official replacement parts that correspond to specific machines or circuit diagrams.
Companies like Apple have reportedly cracked down on the right to repair, convincing lawmakers that consumers are likely to harm themselves trying to fix their hardware. In one example, an Apple lobbyist claimed that consumers would puncture the lithium-ion batteries in iPhones and potentially cause serious damage.
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.
Dispute over the right to repair
However, the winches begin to turn. Companies selling consumer electronics such as hair dryers, televisions and washing machines in the UK and EU must now ensure that these goods can be repaired for up to 10 years.
What this means in practice is that companies need to adopt design and manufacture that offer ordinary consumers better ways to repair their hardware without damaging other aspects of it, while official replacement parts should be more easily available through official channels.
In the US, almost every state proposed some form of the right to repair in 2020. However, only one state, Massachusetts, has incorporated the bill into law in 2021. With more prominent names supporting consumers’ right to repair, expect the balance to tip further and give some power back to consumers.
When old technology broke, you could fix yourself. If that fails, you might find a repair shop. These options disappear with newer products. Let’s talk about the importance of the right to repair.
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