Apple, forced to rate product repair potential in France, gives itself modest marks

Never mind the glue and soldered RAM

Apple, on its French website, is now publishing repairability scores for its notoriously difficult to repair products, in accordance with a Gallic environmental law enacted a year ago.

Cook & Co score themselves on repairability however, and Cupertino kit sometimes fares better under internal interpretation of the criteria [PDF] than it does under ratings awarded by independent organizations.

For example, Apple gave its 2019 model year 16-inch MacBook Pro (A2141) a repairability score of 6.3 out of 10. According to iFixit, a repair community website, that MacBook Pro model deserves a score of 1 out of 10.

Apple's evaluation of its products aligns more closely with independent assessment when it comes to phones. Apple gives its iPhone 12 Pro a repairability score of six, which matches the middling score bestowed by iFixit.

"It's self-reporting right now," said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, a repair advocacy group, in an email to The Register. "No audit, no validation, yet. I think there is another year before there are any penalties for lying."

Nonetheless, Gordon-Byrne expressed optimism about the impact of the French law.

"We've been looking forward to seeing the repairability index details since the idea was first proposed," she said. "It's the first view any of us have had that allows us, as consumers, to pick products that can be more easily repaired. Even if buyers decide to buy products with lousy scores – they will at least know ahead of time. "

Pile of electronic waste

Calls for 'right to repair' electronics laws grow louder across Europe


The focus of the French law is to fight waste and encourage recycling across multiple market segments, not just electronics. But e-waste remains a significant issue.

According to The Global E-waste Monitor 2020 [PDF], a report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Program run by the United Nations, and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), there were 53.6m metric tons (Mt) of e-waste, consisting of discarded tech products and components, generated worldwide in 2019, an increase of 9.2 Mt​ over five years.

In 2019, only about 17.4 per cent of e-waste was recycled. And over the past year, with Apple Stores closed in many places due to the pandemic, repairs for Apple products have been more challenging to arrange than usual.

Signs of progress

Apple doesn't make it easy.

Right from the start Steve Jobs didn't want people mucking around on the inside of his kit. In latter years Cupertino has pioneered ways to make it difficult to upgrade and repair - from new screw heads to manufacturing techniques that make cracking and fixing your laptop very difficult.

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, also expressed enthusiasm for France's regulatory intervention.

"iFixit has been advocating for improved repairability for Apple's products for a long time," he said in an email to The Register. "From gluing in batteries to hiding their service manuals, Apple has systematically stymied their customers who just want to fix their stuff."

"Finally, thanks to the brave work of the French government, Apple is publicly admitting what we've been saying for a long time: they have a repair problem. Apple's products should last longer."

Wiens said he hopes the rules will encourage Apple to rethink its design process.

"Gluing unreplaceable batteries into the AirPods is planned obsolescence," he said. "It's bad for the environment, it's bad for customers, and it's bad for society."

Apple, which we rate at one out of ten for willingness to speak with the press, did not respond to a request for comment. ®

Other stories you might like

  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud security unicorn cuts 20% of staff after raising $1.3b
    Time to play blame bingo: Markets? Profits? Too much growth? Russia? Space aliens?

    Cloud security company Lacework has laid off 20 percent of its employees, just months after two record-breaking funding rounds pushed its valuation to $8.3 billion.

    A spokesperson wouldn't confirm the total number of employees affected, though told The Register that the "widely speculated number on Twitter is a significant overestimate."

    The company, as of March, counted more than 1,000 employees, which would push the jobs lost above 200. And the widely reported number on Twitter is about 300 employees. The biz, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2015.

    Continue reading
  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022