Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Jan 2018 23:36 UTC
Legal

Third party phone repair shops say that phone makers like Apple and game console makers like Sony and Microsoft have effectively monopolized repair, using their size and power to drive smaller companies out of business.

Verizon and Apple have worked in union to thwart such bills in several states, but traditionally don't like to publicly talk about their lobbying on this front. They now have another state to worry about, with Washington State considering their own right to repair bill, created in the wake of outrage over Apple's decision to throttle the performance of older phones to (Apple insists) protect device integrity in the wake of failing battery performance.

I've said it a million times by now, but I see no reason why computers should be treated any different than cars: PC and phone makers should be forced to publicise the necessary information to allow third-party repair shops to repair their devices, all without voiding warranty.

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Be careful what you ask for ...
by Langalf on Wed 31st Jan 2018 02:36 UTC
Langalf
Member since:
2006-04-25

I would not put it past automobile manufacturers to make it impossible to repair cars outside of dealership. It is already hard enough to deal with electronic diagnostic systems.

Ask farmers in the United States how difficult it is to repair/maintain a modern tractor. They are as effectively locked down as a smartphone, with the manufacturers basically locking the "owner" out of any self-repair.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Be careful what you ask for ...
by bert64 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 03:05 UTC in reply to "Be careful what you ask for ..."
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

In many countries there are laws governing the auto market designed to prevent this kind of lock-in as well as guarantee the availability of spare parts etc.

Reply Score: 5

bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

Tesla actually does only provide their service documentation in Massachusetts, the one US state with a right to repair law for cars.

Reply Score: 3

heddwch Member since:
2011-05-30

To be fair, they offer great warranties and very fair repair/replacement services, so while by the letter of the topic, it's a good example, by the spirit, maybe not the best to make the point that we need the right to repair laws.
I do respect your point, though.

Reply Score: 1

Maintenance and Maintainability
by teco.sb on Wed 31st Jan 2018 03:06 UTC
teco.sb
Member since:
2014-05-08

Have you tried working on a car built in over the last 2 decades? Pretty much the only thing I can still do on my car is basic maintenance. I once burned up the computer on 1999 Jeep Wrangler (my fault), and the thing became a 3500-lb paperweight. That being said, my current car is also infinitely more efficient than any vehicle before it. At the end of the day, the tighter tolerances come with less maintainability.

As for electronics, the driving force behind this lack of maintainability, at least in my opinion, is miniaturization. Why have multiple chips (80x86 + 80x87) when you can have a single one that includes your CPU and GPU? Why have a DIP processor, when you can have a FBGA one?

I'm not saying this is good, but it is the trend. Even more so since most people do not give a damn if they are able to replace that battery or not.

Reply Score: 3

daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

I tend to drive older cars, and haven't come across any problems getting parts from a dealer. Up until recently I was driving a VW Golf GTI that was just about 20 years old, every dealer could still get parts. Some more unusual parts (like ECUs etc.) would take 2-3 days to get but most standard parts would be there the following day, and service parts were still held in stock. I guess it changes depending on where you live...

Reply Score: 3

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

I once burned up the computer on 1999 Jeep Wrangler (my fault), and the thing became a 3500-lb paperweight.


There are a lot of parts where, if damaged, turn a car into a paperweight - long before cars had computers integrated everywhere. You just replace the part.

In the case of an ECU, it's easy (Probably one of the easiest things to replace, actually), the same you'd do if you have to replace a damaged engine cylinder or a borken axle.

On the Wrangler, it's just a box that has large blocks of wires plugged in, and the ECU itself is just attached to the body by four small bolts. Easy to access.

Reply Score: 2

dbox2005 Member since:
2017-11-22

Plus you can buy a cloned device from China and program the ECU to be recognized without any prejudice. This is what Chinese are good at : cloning the genuine well spent dollars on locked in technology they can easily get around to unlock.

For sure I am always buying something if I can have some sort of back door open if needed.

Let others pay for their stupidity ;)

Edited 2018-01-31 19:34 UTC

Reply Score: 1

bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

ECUs can be locked down pretty tightly due to the integration into vehicle security systems, on modern cars (hell, on a 2000+ VW in the US, or earlier in Europe, you need a code that came with the keys, and on 2004+, that code is no longer accessible without either using shady tools to pull the code out of the instrument cluster, or the dealer has to look it up in a central database).

Reply Score: 3

heddwch Member since:
2011-05-30

Sure, like my Mitsubishi that will not run if the ECU and "Immobilizer" modules don't match serial numbers. At the same time, you can get both modules fairly easily, and a wise man wouldn't replace just one lifter, either.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 13:34 UTC
ahferroin7
Member since:
2015-10-30

While I'm not advocating the stance that Apple and a lot of other electronics manufacturers take, I think I can understand part of the reasoning behind it.

Cars are traditionally, and still primarily, mechanical devices. It's usually trivial to reverse engineer a mechanical device (see for example all the functionally identical derivatives of the Colt AR15 rifle (which itself was a clone of the original ArmaLite design)). On top of that, the general internal design of a car is essentially in the public domain at this point.

Electronics in comparison are not trivial to reverse-engineer at present unless they're trivially simple examples, but releasing all the required documentation to allow for third-party repairs instantly makes it exponentially easier to reverse-engineer the device, which is internally almost certainly not public-domain in terms of design (pretty much everybody uses about the same design for a phone, just with the parts arranged differently, but that's not the same as being in the public domain).

Given this, automakers have no real intellectual property to protect other than the design of the body, and possibly the engine control module, but even if they did it wouldn't matter because they wouldn't be able to have things be repairable at all and prevent end users from accessing them. In contrast, electronics manufacturers have a lot of intellectual property to protect, and they feel that it's better to protect it by trying to hide it than to take the proper legal routes for preventing infringement.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by ahferroin7
by Gargyle on Wed 31st Jan 2018 14:08 UTC in reply to "Comment by ahferroin7"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

I think I understand what you are trying to say, but the distinction between mechanical being simple and electronical being complicated and thus having more valuable designs is a silly one.

If only multiple car companies did not pour millions or even billions into the design of a car. Granted, it's not the same level of cash compared to what top-tier electronics manufacturing companies use to drown their R&D departments, but it's still far from "so simple it doesn't even require patenting or licensing".

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 14:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ahferroin7"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

I'm not saying it's simple enough to not require licensing. I'm saying there aren't any claimable intellectual property rights on the core design components (in other words, there are no patents or other intellectual property claims on what makes a car a car).

Anybody can design an internal combustion engine and not have to worry about getting hit with litigation, same with wheels, disc brakes, a transmission system, a steering system, etc. Mechanical components like that can't be copyrighted for anything other than decorative aspects (at least, they shouldn't be able to be, and in the case of automobiles they aren't), and they're sufficiently 'common knowledge' at this point that they also can't be patented unless they're a truly innovative reimplementation.

In contrast to that, pretty much everything inside an smart phone is protected by patents or copyright (yes, copyright, since apparently software isn't a functional component according to the US supreme court...). I can't go out and design a new smartphone from scratch without having to deal with either litigation or royalties from more than a dozen companies. Even if I were to go as far as designing the CPU, GPU, baseband processor, and other components all from scratch (which would take decades for what it's worth), I would still be dealing with litigation on at least the baseband processor and probably most of the other core components.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by ahferroin7
by Gargyle on Wed 31st Jan 2018 15:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ahferroin7"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

You are right in that the core functionality of a car isn't patent or copyright encumbered, but you must realise that you need much more than that to be able to launch your new car onto the very strictly regulated markets of today.

Adhering to emission and safety standards isn't simple nor cheap to realise.

In the same way can you now make a product of the core functionality of a cpu, because the core x86 ISA patents (from the 386) have expired already. But being able to produce your simple and 'libre' 386 isn't anything meaningful in today's market where you need serious funds and a proper patent portfolio to actually get somewhere.

Edited 2018-01-31 15:06 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by ahferroin7
by zima on Sat 3rd Feb 2018 22:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ahferroin7"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Even if I were to go as far as designing the CPU, GPU, baseband processor, and other components all from scratch (which would take decades for what it's worth), I would still be dealing with litigation

If it would take decades, you probably wouldn't be dealing with litigation at this point... ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ahferroin7
by dbox2005 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 14:17 UTC in reply to "Comment by ahferroin7"
dbox2005 Member since:
2017-11-22

This is so backward thinking and against proliferation and spread of technology advance.
Just read more about its consequences at following post:
http://www.osnews.com/story/30179/Microsoft_releases_update_to_disa...

Is the goal of the companies to make money on same technology (see Apple iPhone iterations) or to bring to the market new technologies meant to wreak havoc and propel human advance.

Why users continuously support this status-quo ?
Are they with the same mentality of the companies they are supporting ? Consumerism at its finest...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 14:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ahferroin7"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

I'm not saying I agree with it. I think it's absolutely stupid too (and it gets even stupider in other industries that do this). I'm just saying that from a purely business perspective, I can understand how they arrived at the incorrect conclusion that it is good for business.

As far as users 'supporting' it? I don't think any of them really do except the absolute zealots of each brand. There are all kinds of other reasons people buy iPhones (although I'm of the opinion that most of them are invalid other than vendor lock-in), and it's generally only those of us who have some understanding of the inner workings who have significant interest in them being easily repairable.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Wed 31st Jan 2018 17:17 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

We live in a world of finite resources and this `throw away` culture we've adopted is simply not sustainable. We generate far too much waste, much of it toxic to ourselves, other life, and the environment itself. If we can't learn to shed some of the greed in favor of balance & longevity then we've already destroyed any future we may have had.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by fretinator on Wed 31st Jan 2018 17:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

We live in a world of finite resources and this `throw away` culture we've adopted is simply not sustainable.


But it sure is profitable in the short run, which is the only that matters to most folks.

Reply Score: 4

Your airbag is broken
by dmrio on Wed 31st Jan 2018 21:06 UTC
dmrio
Member since:
2005-08-26

"(...) Computers should be treated any different than cars" and I go further: in the wake of recent Intel chip flaw (Spectre, Meltdown), there must be some kind of recall on the tech industry.

Reply Score: 2

UK only?
by quatermass on Sun 4th Feb 2018 16:30 UTC
quatermass
Member since:
2005-08-03

This should be of interest in the UK.

Maplin has sniffed around this market and wants to be the first mainstream high street chain of shops to offer this repair service.

Reply Score: 1