Apple Now Supports the Right-to-Repair Laws It Once Opposed

Well, this certainly wasn’t on our bingo card. Apple is now urging California State Legislature to pass SB 244, a Right to Repair bill. The company claims that SB 244 “protects individual users’ safety and security, as well as product manufacturers’ intellectual property.” It’s a total heel turn for Apple, which previously lobbied against Right to Repair legislation and claimed that self-repair would decrease user security. The company’s new stance has received praise from iFixit, the biggest advocate of Right to Repair, and Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, the champion of SB 244.

Perhaps this was inevitable. Bills similar to California’s SB 244 have already passed in Minnesota and New York. This kind of legislation forces companies to offer parts, tools, and repair guides for their electronic devices. Repair programs are a huge investment, and it’s hard to make a profit selling self-repair resources to just one or two U.S. states, so Apple is helping to shape this transition instead of standing against it.

More importantly, Apple has found a way to comply with Right to Repair laws while still maintaining control over iPhone and Mac repairs. The company’s Self-Repair Program, which was announced in 2021, is often more expensive than receiving repairs at the Apple Store. Also, by offering an avenue to purchase official replacement parts, Apple can justify its stance against “unauthorized” repair technicians who only have access to third-party or donor components (which cost a lot less than official parts).

California’s SB 244 is one of the most aggressive Right to Repair bills in the United States. It’s extremely pro-consumer, as it requires companies to provide parts, tools, diagnostics, and guides for both individuals and independent repair technicians. The bill covers life-saving medical devices, farm equipment, and other important products—it’s more than just an iPhone thing. And, unlike other self-repair bills, SB 244 forces companies to go beyond a product’s warranty period. If a device costs between $50 and $99.99, repair resources must be provided for three years after the product is discontinued. This timeline is extended to seven years if a product costs more than $100.

Additionally, SB 244 states that unauthorized technicians must identify themselves as such (by giving a written notice to potential customers). They must also disclose if they use replacement parts that are not sourced directly from a product’s manufacturer. While this is arguably a good thing for consumers, it also suits Apple’s desire to protect “intellectual property.”

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will evaluate SB 244 on the week of August 27th. If it passes there, it will reach the Assembly floor—what iFixit calls the “final legislative hurdle” before the governor signs SB 244 into law. Apple’s endorsement of SB 244 is a landmark moment for consumer rights, though it also highlights the differing motivations of corporations and their customers.

You can read the entirety of SB 244 on the California government website. Apple’s letter to the California State Legislature was available on Scribd, but it has since been removed.

Source: TechCrunch, iFixit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *