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

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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Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 31st Jan 2018 13:34 UTC
Member since:

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 in reply to "Comment by ahferroin7"
Gargyle Member since:

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 Parent Score: 5

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

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 Parent Score: 1

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

This is so backward thinking and against proliferation and spread of technology advance.
Just read more about its consequences at following post:

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 Parent Score: 2

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

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 Parent Score: 3