There is a war going on and it has swept across planet earth. It’s a war against do-it-yourself repairs, against refurbished products being sold at retail. You see it everywhere. Who repairs anything anymore except repairmen? Yet, even the best of repairmen would never touch today’s electronic gadgets which, instead of being repaired, often are sent to the junk pile and simply replaced with a new or somewhat refurbished product.
Repair? Meh. Replace is the order of the day, and few technology companies build anti-repair products to match Apple.
What’s going on? Apple has an ongoing war against do-it-yourself repairs.
Perhaps it’s the nature of technology. My father repaired his own cars. There were times when I would arrive home after school and see various and sundry car parts on the family room table. If not car parts, something from the washer or dryer; or furnace, or some plumbing. My father was handy with tools, but broke back in those days could be fixed.
Can you fix a broken iPhone? An iPad? No. That’s for the geniuses at the Apple Store Genius Bar. The best I can do these days is upgrade RAM in an iMac. Back in the day, back to the cheese grater Mac Pro models of yesteryear, I ventured into the drop-down side door and added RAM in my sleep, swapped out a faulty power supply, cleaned dust from a few fans, added and removed hard disk drives as if they were techno-candy, and even swapped out a CPU or two.
These days even Mac notebooks are not upgradeable, let alone repairable. Got a weak battery? Head to the Apple Store. Need more RAM or SSD storage? Wait’ll next year when you can buy a new Mac.
Apple has long understood that hardware products that last a long time result in falling unit sales, as customers opt to keep their old machines instead of buying the latest models; that’s part of why the company led the charge that killed every single Right to Repair bill introduced last year — less repairs leads to more “recycling,” which is Applespeak for dropping used units into giant shredders without harvesting any usable parts first.
If you can’t repair one of Apple’s highly desirable products, then Apple makes more money, either through the repair itself, or a premature upgrade to a new product.
As Doctorow points out, this war against do-it-yourself repairs and refurbished products sold by anyone else but Apple has extended to a new relationship with Amazon. The online retailer has stopped selling refurbished Apple products in exchange for the privilege of selling new Apple products on Amazon.
Win, win, right?
For Apple and Amazon, but not for their customers.
There is a war going on and customers are not in a position to win.