Nearly everyone owns at least one electronic device, and it seems like a no-brainer that we should be able to repair them, especially if the company won’t. But there are many instances where this is not possible because companies maintain control over their design and products. That means, in certain cases, it might actually be illegal for you to fix something you own.
The Right to Repair debate has been raging on for some time now, but recently Joe Biden made an order that would allow DIY fixes of all electronics by requiring manufacturers to share repair information with independent service providers and owners of the product. While this isn’t a guarantee that your right will always be upheld, it is certainly a step in the right direction!
It’s not a stretch to say that everyone is guilty of upgrading their electronics occasionally. The reasons for this are many: the product feels slow, it doesn’t work as well anymore, or there might be features that you want but don’t have with your current model (hello iPad Pro!). But what if those upgrades come at a price? You could end up spending more on something new than repairing an old one because manufacturers will make sure any updates they send out would render the older models obsolete.
The number of people who currently own products from Apple has been steadily climbing over time, the company sold 12 million iPhones in its first three days of release! And also they are able to sell 100 million iPhone 12’s. This means there should be plenty of repair jobs available for Apple, right? Not so fast.
What many consumers don’t know is that if they have an older model of a product, and it breaks in some way, the repair might not be covered under warranty because it could cause more harm than good to fix something older. It seems like this should only apply when there are safety issues involved, but this is often not the case a company has made their design obsolete or purposefully removed support from legacy systems, which makes them unable to offer updates and repairs on these old products. And while you may think that just means less business for said company, that would be wrong: customers will see your lack of availability as an opportunity to buy new equipment (yay revenue!) rather than return with a broken product.
This is just one of the many reasons that companies force consumers to buy new products instead of fixing what they already have: it’s cheaper for them! It also discourages people from buying a slightly older version or even competitive models because those devices will no longer be supported either, and your newer model might come with updates that are not available on other systems.
Why people don’t want to use an older device
- The price of the newer model
- The requirement to use new features and operate differently than before
- Lack of space to store older devices
- Increased difficulty in using the device
- The fear of the device failing
- A lack of support for older devices
- Lack of knowledge about how to upgrade an old model.
Some other reasons we have been seeing the slower performance on our electronics are:
- Manufacturers may force updates that cause older models to become slow or unusable due to an update that might make them incompatible with certain software – For example, anything Apple-related will no longer work if you’re running Windows XP.
- Service vendors also require frequent upgrades, which could render old versions obsolete and stop producing the associated support – If your car is not up-to-date with its software, you won’t be able to use certain features.
- There’s also the issue of planned obsolescence, which means manufacturers might end support for legacy systems.
- The same thing happened when Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP, companies began removing older versions from circulation and would no longer offer repairs or updates on products that were no longer being made.
As mentioned before, by 2020 there will be billions of connected devices in the world with a new one coming online every second, which is going to make things difficult when they break! It’s truly become something we can’t live without, but it also means that companies want people to keep buying newer versions instead of fixing what they have right now unless you happen to know-how. By giving customers the ability to repair their electronics at home, it could help reduce some of these problems, as well as encourage them from eating up all their money on new gadgets or repairs on old ones.
The right to repair is a fairly new issue that has come up in the last few years as companies have continued to make it more difficult for customers to fix their own electronics and instead promote planned obsolescence.
So, what’s the solution and why Right to repair is the right direction?
Customers should be able to fix electronics at home, but this isn’t possible when manufacturers keep repair information private – They say “Right To Work” laws help protect workers; why can’t we do the same for consumers who want access? Joe Biden made a bid for the right of people with an electronic device (like iPhones) by requiring manufacturers of these devices to share any information about how they can get repairs done themselves if need be. This is certainly not a guarantee you’ll always be able to get your devices fixed, but it’s still a step in the right direction!
You can also watch this interesting video about Right to repair by MKBHD.