Why we needed “Right to Repair”
Wow, thats great news; you just brought your new iPhone, or Samsung, or any other piece of equipment. You paid in full, and maybe next thing you are wondering, ” Do I really own this device completely?” If it doesn’t cross your mind, then maybe it should. Let’s assume a scenario to understand better; for example, god forbid, you drop your phone and break it. As usual, you would want to fix it. Here is the turn in the story; you can’t. Our devices are getting slimmer and slimmer, and maybe this gives the tech giant like Apple an excellent excuse to hide behind their innovation and dynamism.
No offense, they are the leading force in innovation, and we too are the great fans of the philosophy of Apple. However, they intentionally seem to restrain their innovation drive in reusability and reparability direction. As a result, we are noticing an emerging trend in apple products. Apart from being awesome with their products, they were not so awesome with their longevity. They are making special kind of screws in their gadgets, using more and more glue to stick their products, etc. are good ways of isolating anyone from entering their products. They try desperately to keep their customer in their circle of services, so much so that we find it suffocating and not right by the customer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case only with mobile, accessories, and gadgets, but it is true across domestic user electronics.
We have bought the device, which means we can take it wherever we want for repair, even if it means repairing ourselves(If we can), which was the case in the era of our previous generation. For example, my father is still using the washing machine that he bought 25 years ago. It still runs smoothly with few repairs and maintenance occasionally. He always brags that products at that time were “Built to last.” And he is right; being an electrical engineer himself, it was and still is one of his favorite tasks to open our washing machine for maintenance.
Movement Gaining A Momentum
Undoubtedly, today’s gadgets are more sophisticated and complex, but even they can be designed to be repaired. But, unfortunately, this is not the case, as these intentional upgrades by the big giants make it less assessable for repair. No wonder there was a silent but resilient movement brewing amongst the techies and technological community. Even in the company that is taking the lead against “Right to repair.” Yes, Steve jobs have openly supported the Right to repair in the past, and he hasn’t changed his stance even after companies’ opposition.
“We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world,” Mr. Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, said.
“It’s time to recognize the right to repair more fully.”
Final Nail in the coffin
Ever since the movement has flourished and grown upto the extent that President Joe Biden’s executive order was aimed at encouraging competition in the US economy. The Federal Trade Commission is directed to issue rules that prohibit manufacturers from restricting independent repair shops and DIY repairs. Although cellphone manufacturers aren’t the only ones being criticized for blocking repairs, the order specifically targets them for using practices that make repairs more expensive and time-consuming.
Statement by Mr. President Joe Biden
“Today, I’m going to be signing shortly the executive order promoting competition to lower prices, to increase wages, and to take another critical step toward an economy that works for everybody,” Biden said at the White House.
The President said: “The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: Open and fair competition. That means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out, and they have to up their game.”
“Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” Biden said.
The President said: “Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without. So, we know we’ve got a problem, a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.“
You can read in detail all about Executive Order in here.
What it means & How it benefits you
A major chunk of R&D will now have to comply with the reparability of the product. So if until now companies were focusing on making products one-time use or “Use and Throw,” Now they have to take a complete U-turn and have to focus on making products reparable and assessable.
Benefits of Right to Repair
- More Income to the local repair shops
Until now, Apple was taking a major chunk of money by making its products repairability limited to its stores only, which was also termed as Apple TAX. However, with this, you would be able to go to your local repair shops for repairs which means you will be promoting local business inspite of paying an Apple TAX.
- More Power to the consumer
Previously you didn’t have the option to go somewhere else if you are not comfortable with the price or repair. Even a time apple forces you to buy a new product inspite of repair by making the repair cost almost equivalent to the new gadget. It won’t be able to do so thanks to the number of repair shops available to give out the same repair.
- Drop at the price of repair
Apple and similar companies charge whatever they want, and they make the repair almost unaffordable for the sole purpose of upselling you a new product. However, with the rise in local repair shops, the repair cost will significantly come down.
The United States generated 6.92 million tons of e-waste, about 46 pounds per person, and it recycles 15% of it, which is too little and shouldn’t be the priority as Reuse, Reduce and Recycle are in the logical and descending priority order. Its an estimate that, ideally, America will be able to reduce its e-waste by whooping 48% if it truly accepts the practice of Reuse and Repair alone. Compared to recycling, which has its issues with procedure pollution and toxic chemicals released during its storage and processing, Reusing and repairing is much more efficient as almost no pollutants are emitted in the repair work.
Although it has been a long due motion, finally, with the President supporting, “The Right to Repair” finally seems to be coming true. However, it will be interesting to see how companies adjust and comply with the changes and how it will affect the research and development of new gadgets and appliances.