It’s not just the adhesives help make its devices hard to repair.
From David Gershgorn’s “Wait, there’s supposed to be a gadget repair market?” posted Thursday as a Fortune newsletter:
If you want to fix an iPhone that’s in warranty, you have to go to Apple or an Apple-authorized repair shop. Apple also requires that repair shops make their financials available for Apple to review, pass tests for proper repair, and to open a line of credit with Apple Finance. Only then can the shop even buy genuine Apple-made parts, which Apple can still sell at whatever price it chooses.
Even repair shops that want to buy Apple parts to fix phones out of warranty must sign historically-draconian contracts. One contract stipulation, Motherboard reported in 2020, stated that if a shop used more than 2% of non-genuine Apple parts, it could be fined $1,000 per transaction and reimburse Apple for the cost of the audit that uncovered the supposed malfeasance, too.
This is only half of it. We’re going to pick on Apple a little more, since it’s the biggest offender among makers of popular consumer tech products. The company throws up a ton of roadblocks for repair shops to fix the devices it makes. And by Apple setting the cost for genuine parts, phone repairs even at authorized repair centers can be more expensive, too. Suddenly, the most cost-effective way to ensure you don’t foot the bill for a $300 repair is to buy the company’s AppleCare insurance, which highly subsidizes the cost of common repairs like screen replacements.
Apple has a rationale for these stringent rules. It has argued that making these repairs itself and by thoroughly-vetted providers ensures high-quality parts are used, and maintains the quality the company is known for. Apple has also argued against Right to Repair legislation, saying it could force companies to give up trade secrets…
Apple makes the parts, sells the parts, sets the prices, and on top of that commands huge customer loyalty. If Apple says it’s the only one that can repair an iPhone, people listen.
This sets up the FTC for an uphill battle. If commissioners are serious about encouraging a bigger repair marketplace, the FTC must seriously regulate how companies make their products and sell parts. That means taking on some of the most powerful tech companies, which have been working against the Right to Repair for years.
My take: A battle royale worthy of Mythic Quest.