After spending years fighting independent repair, Apple is giving up.
On Tuesday, the world’s most valuable company sent a letter to Senator Susan Eggman of California expressing its support for SB 244, a “right to repair” bill that would make it easier for the public to access spare parts, tools and equipment. and repair documents required to repair equipment.
“Today, Apple writes in support of SB 244, and urges members of the California legislature to pass the bill as it is currently drafted,” D. Michael Faulks, Apple’s director of state and local government affairs, wrote in the letter.
It was a dramatic turnaround for a company that has played a key role in the repeal of Bills of Rights for repairs to government buildings across the country. including california, Most recently in 2022, Apple asked New York Governor Cathy Hochul to veto a bill on the right to repair. (Hochul signed that bill into law, but not before modify text To make it more corporate friendly.) But advocates say Apple recognized it was losing the battle over repair access. The decision to support the Right to Repair bill in its home state reflects mounting pressure on Apple shareholderslaw maker, federal regulatorAnd the public will end monopolistic restrictions that limit consumers’ ability to fix their own devices.
“The right to repair is here to stay, and they know it,” Nathan Proctor, head of the US public research interest group’s right-to-repair campaign, told Grist.
It was not always like this. For years, Apple’s position was that making parts and repair tools available to the public was a bad idea. Over the years, the company has repeatedly claimed that Right to Repair laws pose security and cyber security risks and can compel manufacturers to reveal trade secrets. despite US Federal Trade Commission Disbanded In 2021 there was “little evidence” to support these claims, Apple, along with the trade unions of which it is a member, continued to make them, In a letter to Hochul last August, the company wrote that New York’s electronics right-to-repair bill, which was recently passed by the state legislature, “would harm consumer safety, privacy, security and transparency. ..and will do nothing to further New York’s environment.” Target.”
Repair advocates counter these arguments by saying that it’s up to Apple financial interest To ensure that its customers get their devices repaired on the company’s terms and conditions only. When consumers have limited ways to repair damaged or malfunctioning gadgets, they often opt to replace them, ensuring a steady flow of sales for manufacturers such as Apple. Advocates say that greater access to independent repairs benefits consumers, who are often able to get things fixed more easily. more economical At home or through an independent shop. According to both advocates and tech industry-backed research, it also benefits the planet: With more repair options, consumers are able to keep their existing devices in use longer, reducing electronic waste and the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing new devices.
Apparently, Apple now agrees with repair advocates. “In recent years, Apple has taken important steps to expand the options for consumers to repair their devices, which we know is good for consumers’ budgets and the environment,” Faulks wrote in the letter.
Apple’s face appeared out of nowhere. As noted in Faulk’s letter, the company began changing its public position on independent repair a few years ago, as the Right to Repair movement was gaining national media attention and high level support,
In 2019, Apple launched its “Independent Repair Provider” program, giving independent shops access to repair documentation and original parts previously only available to Apple “Authorized” repair partners. In 2022, it announced “self service repair,” a program that allows customers to buy genuine Apple parts and tools to perform common repairs on new iPhones and Macs. Both programs have their flaws – the Independent Repair Provider program required independent shops sign a hard contractWhile self service repair is, by many accounts, an expensive and ugly How to repair a device. But even advocates hailed both as symbolic victories, given Apple’s influence on the broader consumer tech industry.
Expressing support for a right to repair bill in California, the nation’s largest economy and central nervous system of Big Tech, may be the biggest symbolic concession Apple has ever made. Unlike in the past, when Apple has asked lawmakers to veto bills containing the right to repair, Proctor said this time the company has come to the negotiating table. Working with bill author Eggman’s office, Apple insisted on some changes to the text. Eventually, the bill reached a point where the company was comfortable supporting it.
Bill Requires that manufacturers of electronics and equipment make parts, repair tools, and documentation available to the general public for equipment first sold on or after July 1, 2021. For devices costing between $50 and $99.99, manufacturers must provide repair access for at least three. Years later the product ceases to be manufactured; For those that cost more than $100, that number rises to seven years. In its letter, Apple listed some bill provisions that were critical of the company’s support, including language that explicitly states that manufacturers must offer to the public only parts, tools and manuals that are authorized by Apple. Repairs are available to partners, and Bill’s main focus is on new equipment.
Eggman told Grist in an emailed statement, “Apple’s support for California’s Right to Repair Act reflects the power of a movement that’s been going on for years and the industry’s commitment to making good policy to benefit Californians.” have the potential to partner with us.” “I am grateful for her involvement on this issue and for being a leader among her peers when it comes to supporting access to repair.”
By choosing to work with lawmakers on SB 244, Apple is following in their footsteps Microsoftwho previously negotiated the details of Washington State’s Right to Repair Bill publicly endorsing, (Ironically, that bill stalled in the state senate after failing to garner the support of a prominent Democrat, a former Apple executive.) It’s unclear, however, whether Microsoft’s allies on repair rights in Washington will Whether the approach directly affected the iPhone maker’s strategy in California remains unclear. Microsoft’s leadership helped bring the entire tech industry to the negotiating table, the advocates previously told Grist. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
California Senate SB 244 Passed in May by a vote of 38–0. The Appropriations Committee of the state legislature is expected to vote on the bill next week, after which it could go to the floor for voting.
California sounds like a good shot Became the fourth state to sign a Right to Reparation bill last year, after New York ColoradoAnd Minnesota, A stronger right-to-repair law in California has the potential to become the de facto standard, potentially leading to a national agreement between Big Tech and the repair community, as happened in the auto industry following Massachusetts’ passage. Right to Repair Act for Cars,
But regardless of the fate of this bill, advocates are taking some time to celebrate their latest victory.
Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, said in a statement: “This is a huge victory for the entire coalition who were engaged in their effort to get the legislation done, and we are all proud to see the big guns fall. moment of.” statement,