Right to Repair is Happening! [Video]
Video uploaded by TechLinked on July 7, 2021
Damage Mitigation or Will Careless Handling of Gadgets Get Much Less Pricey Any Time Soon?
Well, the less cautious (and agile) among us, rejoice. Today’s your day: you are now one big step closer to having been allowed much more recklessness than before. Namely, to the time when you’ll be able to drop, accidentally hit against hard surfaces and otherwise harm your beloved gizmos at much less cost to yourselves.
Seriously though, there might actually be something to this new “right to repair”order President Biden has recently signed, by which he urges the FTC to create instructions forcing equipment makers to give their clients much more lenience with fixing said equipment when broken. It does seem fair to us, especially (of course) when it comes to our constant subject matter, which is the digital side of things. Or, more specifically, to gadgets – first and foremost, the most precious necessary ones, i.e. smartphones.
After all, few of us, if any, mishandle our tablets and phones on purpose, and while some companies pride themselves on the sturdiness of some of their models, mostly it’s still the same story: the more advanced and sophisticated the gadget is, the more fragile it turns out. And these days, when our devices are basically implanted in our lives, and these lives, in turn, get so busy and fast, it’s hard to fully protect such delicate goods from any damage all the time. Or, to put it more bluntly, it’s virtually just a matter of time that said damage would come to them, one way or another. After all, they accompany us pretty much everywhere and at any speed.
So yes, it seems reasonable that each and every accident happening to our treasured gadgets shouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg, which has been often the case. In fact, it is quite common that the price of broken phones’ repair nearly equals that of buying a new one, which occasionally comes too close to holding the owner hostage for comfort. Because we don’t always have much of a choice in the matter: it’s not just about the device itself but about all the data it had accumulated by then and we desperately need to retrieve no matter what. And that’s when those big brands – and even quite a few of lesser ones too – have their way with us, leaving us not a smidgen of a leeway to cut these dreaded repair costs even by a fraction. No third-party involvement, they say. Only trademark tools (with all the “logo charges” it incurs), they say. No info sharing with anyone who could put up a competition, they say. Well, you know the drill: what else could one expect from those who even go out of their way to prevent you from using generic cartridges in your printers? (Yes, high-and-mighty brands who snatch our rights to your products’ guarantee before it even expires whenever we “cheat” on you with other part makers, we are looking at you).
But now we can take heart in the knowledge that at least this treat may soon be, if not fully removed, then at least considerably lowered. The repair restrictions easing has been demanded for quite some time now (over a year at least, to be precise), but now that the President has added his voice to that choir and openly nudged the FTC itself in this direction, something might actually change in foreseeable time.
And not just in terms of the way the goods makers handle their data, mind. On top of them having to open access to their repair and state check methods to other firms, it will also become their duty to make their stock more, well, fixable. Whether it’s doable in a meaningful way on a truly large scale and what effect it will have on the aforementioned tech advancements may remain open to debate and a subject to reality check, but it would be nice to hear fateful words such as “spare parts unavailable” or “backup unrecoverable”, or “there is no way to bring this screen / connector / you name it back to life” just a little less often. Even if it means that the incessant shrinking of smaller phone and computer accessories may be somewhat slowed as a result.
Plus, there is one more benefit to be derived from those possible changes. Let us not forget the matter of ecology. Cheaper and easier repair, among other things, means lower heaps of rubbish to deal with. Quite a few of materials used in such kind of production are also not that easily recyclable, so the longer they stay useful – and, therefore, in use – the better.
You may, of course – reasonably enough – point out that at this point it all remains, on the whole, just a declaration of intent until the time when (and if) the FTC acts upon the order in question. And granted, it is expected to consider it long and hard, what with most of the major players expectedly – continuing to resist the idea, occasionally offering some sensible contrary arguments, such as dangers to some eager-but-inexpert wannabe repairers or industrial spying consequently getting easier). But judging by such facts that a prominent stalwart of “no third parties” approach as Apple is starting to let these third parties in to play by widening some of their products’ compatibility and improving relations to non-Apple repair companies, and taking into account the pressure the repairers themselves – of whom there are many – put on all concerned in favour of right-to-repair, it looks like we really may see some change in this department this time.