In response to years of criticism and complaints from consumer advocates regarding the difficulty and expense of repairing its devices, Apple, the world’s largest tech company, announced on Tuesday its support for a U.S. right-to-repair bill. This decision aligns with President Joe Biden’s broader efforts to promote competition and eliminate practices that result in inflated prices for consumers.
As part of this initiative, Apple has also committed to making the necessary parts, tools, and documentation for repairing its iPhones and computers available to independent repair shops and consumers nationwide. This move is expected to set a precedent for other companies to follow suit, Reuters news report said.
The restrictive practices prevalent across industries have not only raised costs for consumers but have also stifled innovation, limited opportunities for independent repair shops, and contributed to unnecessary electronic waste, as highlighted by Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.
Lina Khan mentioned that healthcare workers and hospitals have expressed concerns about their ability to repair vital medical equipment, such as ventilators, due to manufacturers’ attempts to restrict access to repair resources.
Apple’s shift toward supporting federal legislation and allowing independent repair shops to service its products is part of a broader shift in the company’s strategy. Apple is now emphasizing the longevity and resale value of its devices while actively working to make repairs more accessible and convenient for consumers.
The company took its first steps in this direction in 2019 by providing parts and manuals to select independent repair shops. In August, Apple endorsed right-to-repair legislation in California, its home state, which mandates that companies offer fair and reasonable access to parts, tools, and manuals needed for repairs. Apple intends to extend this commitment across the United States.
Brian Naumann, Apple’s Vice President for Service and Operations, emphasized the company’s belief in the benefits of a national law that strikes a balance between repairability, product integrity, usability, and physical safety.
National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard commended Apple’s decision and called on Congress to pass national legislation. California, Colorado, New York, and Minnesota have already passed their own right-to-repair laws, and 30 other states have introduced similar legislation.
Brainard explained that commitments from private companies, like Apple, have the potential to reduce costs for consumers and mitigate the massive amount of electronic waste entering landfills. According to Brainard, allowing consumers to repair their electronic devices could save American consumers approximately $49.6 billion annually and reduce the nearly 7 million tons of electronic waste generated in the United States.
However, some consumer advocates approached the news with caution, as Apple’s previous commitments to repairs have often come with conditions. Nathan Proctor, leader of the right-to-repair campaign at the advocacy group U.S. PIRG, noted that they would closely monitor any federal legislation that emerges and focus on the real-world impact.