Apple Training Videos Highlight Company's Adversarial Stance On Affordable Repairs

from the this-one-goes-to-11 dept

Apple has never looked too kindly upon users actually repairing their own devices. The company’s ham-fisted efforts to shut down, sue, or otherwise imperil third-party repair shops are well established. As are the company’s efforts to force recycling shops to shred Apple products (so they can’t be refurbished and re-used), and Apple’s often comical attacks on essential right to repair legislation, which only sprung up after companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, John Deere, and others created a grass-roots counter-movement via their attempts to monopolize repair.

The company’s policies are also pretty ingrained in the company’s employee training process. New leaked Apple training videos obtained by Motherboard show how Apple trains its employees to routinely steer consumers away from less expensive options, and toward “authorized” Apple repairs. Repairs that, not at all surprisingly, wind up costing the consumer significantly more dough:

“Leaked training videos Apple made for its authorized repair partners show how the company trains repair technicians to undermine third party companies and talk customers into buying more expensive first party repairs…For years, Apple has made it harder for independent repair stores to fix phones, nudging customers to go to Apple stores instead. In response, there’s been a rising right-to-repair movement that wants to make it easier for people to repair their own stuff.”

The motivation for these behaviors is obvious: if users are repairing or recycling their iDevices, that means fewer device sales and more customers wandering outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Apple routinely obfuscates this obvious self interest under claims that it’s exclusively worried about consumer safety and security, like that time it claimed that Nebraska would become a “mecca for hackers” (oh no!) if the state embraced legislation protecting a consumer’s right to repair their own devices.

In response to complaints Apple has made a few minor concessions over the years, such as the launch of an “Apple Authorized Service Providers” (AASP) program in 2016, designed to lower its repair walls slightly. But participants in this program remain heavily restricted as to what they can actually do, something that — much like its broader opposition to right to repair in general — is usually framed as a consumer health and safety issue, and not just Apple being greedy about repair revenue and the desire for boosted new phone sales:

“AASP launched in 2016 as a way for some independent stores to make basic repairs to Apple devices. AASP stores must open their stores to unannounced audits by Apple, and face a mountain of restrictions on what they can and can’t fix.”

The consumer, market, and environmental harms of Apple’s quest to monopolize repair are pretty well documented at this point. The company is being dragged, kicking and screaming, up the right to repair mountain, and there are still many miles to go until meaningful reform is implemented internally. At some point Apple execs may find it smarter to get out ahead of right to repair legislation by implementing voluntary and truly meaningful reform, but it’s pretty clear we’re nowhere near that point yet.

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Comments on “Apple Training Videos Highlight Company's Adversarial Stance On Affordable Repairs”

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30 Comments
Anonymoussays:

If you’re going to throw accusations of Apple intentionally sabotaging repair efforts to sell new phones, you should probably at least attempt to square that circle with the fact that the phones Apple released in 2015 will still be getting full iOS support till 2022, a full 7 years after release and more than double what their competitors offer. If Apple just wanted to sell new devices, this would not be the case.
This is one of the times you need to look at Apple more as a fashion brand. The most likely explanation is that inferior repairs will reflect poorly on the Apple brand, especially as those repaired phones move through the ecosystem and are resold to someone who might not know they have been repaired by a un-approved shop.

Mononymous Timsays:

..it’s exclusively worried about consumer safety and security, like that time it claimed that Nebraska would become a "mecca for hackers" (oh no!) if the state embraced legislation protecting a consumer’s right to repair their own devices.

Or like that time Apple’s own "genius" (an Elon Musk level of misnomer right there) posted the girl’s private pictures to her social media accounts.

Screw Apple (and Tesla for that matter)!

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

I must be a super duper hacker…
I’ve opened and repaired several iPods all on my own.
I’ve replaced batteries, reseated connections, replaced hard drives, switched them to running on flash memory to extend battery life.

Perhaps 4th Gen was the best gen… before the glue & needing super secret special tools to try and open them to fix simple things.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

Windows 7 support lasted 6 years (mainstream), 11 years (extended support), and is still receiving security updates (up to 14 years after release). Vista extended support also lasted about 11 years, with the hardware it was running on viable for many years afterwards. Unix distros similarly retain their utililty for many many years.

My flip-phone, a motorola product, lasted until it literally wore out, some 12 years. It didn’t need updates, upgrades, or security patches – it was just a phone.

Android phones are mostly limited by available memory, in which version of Android they can host. Admittedly, that meant that my Galaxy S3 was due for the knackers in only about 6 years.

So … grats on your Apple phone lasting 7 years?

basstabssays:

Re:

This is a strawman. The actual quote from the article is:

"The motivation for these behaviors is obvious: if users are repairing or recycling their iDevices, that means fewer device sales and more customers wandering outside of Apple’s ecosystem."

You’ve conveniently dropped the second portion. Apple is happy to allow users to keep old devices so long as they are spending hundreds of dollars on overpriced official Apple repair services whenever they have an issue with their device. (Through which they push to sell more devices. If you want copious examples of official Apple stores saying something easy "can’t be fixed" and that the customer should buy a new device, check out Louis Rossman.) The article is clearly ascribing Apple’s resistance to right to repair to a fear of losing money from a variety of its different revenue streams, not the single metric of how many phones are sold.

Additionally, if we look at Apple as a "fashion brand," then that suggests that they release new products every year to create a haves and have-nots divide in order to sell more products out of fear of social stigma. It’s hardly the peak of fashion to still be rocking an iPhone 5C or an iPhone 6. Which, they do, so I think we definitely should view them as a fashion brand! However, that just paints them and their greed in an even worse light in my opinion as a company who wants to weaponize trends and toxic human behavior to sell as many overpriced devices as possible.

The reason Apple is providing long term security updates is extremely simple: marketing. Being able to say that a phone will get 7 years of updates makes it seem like a great investment to someone looking to buy a new device, even though the percentage of customers who will actually continue to use a device for that long is vanishingly small. It doesn’t cost much for them to roll out the occasional security or stability patch in the grand scheme of things, and it puts the idea in people’s head that maybe, just maybe, they’ll use that $1100 iPhone 13 Pro Max SuperCharged Babykisser for seven years even though almost none of them actually will.

charliebrownsays:

Re:

My iPhone 6 started falling apart around February this year (2021). It still "worked". I could make and recieve calls, so I didn’t replace it until June.

Incidentally, I got a second hand refurbished iPhone SE. Apart from the headphone socket, it is just like the iPhone 6 I had. I hope it lasts longer, but I’m not holding out much hope. I miss having a physical "home" button.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re:

"the phones Apple released in 2015 will still be getting full iOS support till 2022, a full 7 years after release and more than double what their competitors offer."

Yeah, they even agree to regularly snoop through your private cloud data to see if they find CP according to the latest updates. Apple certainly pushes the envelope of extra "service".

And the full iOS support isn’t much of a promise when the devices themselves are tooled to gradually erode performance. Two or three years is the average life expectancy of a smartphone before you have to buy a new one and until that trend reverses Apple promising service which will never be needed by almost any of their customer base isn’t worth much.

"The most likely explanation…"

…is that the cultist followers of All Things Apple can be conveniently gouged for any amount of money without ever demanding actual product to match their investment. It’s as simple as that.

"If you’re going to throw accusations of Apple intentionally sabotaging repair efforts…"

Yes. Yes, I think we will. Especially after learning how the iOS system clock gradually reduces processor performance after about a year of operation to ensure the sucker owning it will need to buy a new one regularly. I was heartily amused to see the excuse – that Apple thinks solid state tech erodes that quickly and were "concerned" about the lifespan of their devices. Meanwhile the same processors keep churning away at full capacity for ten years on testbeds everywhere…

"This is one of the times you need to look at Apple more as a grifters dream aimed at P.T. Barnum’s favorite people."

FTFY.

bhull242says:

Re:

This is one of the times you need to look at Apple more as a fashion brand.

Okay, then let’s look at Apple as a fashion brand.

The most likely explanation is that inferior repairs will reflect poorly on the Apple brand, especially as those repaired phones move through the ecosystem and are resold to someone who might not know they have been repaired by a un-approved shop.

So, by analogy, inferior repairs will reflect poorly on the fashion brand, especially as those repaired dresses move through the ecosystem and are resold to someone who might not know they have been repaired by an unapproved shop.

Okay… Now, does anyone know of a fashion company that tries to inhibit repairs on dresses (or whatever it is they’re selling)? Or where this is in any way a problem in the fashion industry?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Hmm, I’m not familiar enough with fashion to have thrown that modifier in there. I was thinking things like the different price point products being visually distinctive from each other, questionable value of the “pro” line for actual average people, and colors on phones for people crazy enough to carry around and $800 device without a case. Let’s correct it to they are worried about sub-standard repairs making their brand look bad.
The thing we need to remember is that the vast vast majority of Apple users are people who aren’t necessarily tech savvy, or understand the process of repairing an electronic device. They just want their phone to do what it is supposed to. If my mom buys a used iPhone and the screen falls off, she’s just going to assume that the screen can fall off iPhones and not consider that some cut rate shop did a crap job on the repair.
Is this going to raise the cost of repairs? Of course, the number of providers has been limited. The expectation though is that your phone will get fixed correctly without having to do a bunch of research on exactly what your phone needs or reading Yelp reviews for the shops.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Do you think the average iPhone user could switch to Android, and keep their phones updated with at least security updates for that long?
Google is just announcing that the Pixel 6 coming out this fall will get at least 5 years of updates. Even Google isn’t promising what you achieved with your S3 and they make both the hardware and the OS! This is one of the benefits of the more open system Android; if you are technically adept and have time to fiddle with it you can get exactly what you want and even keep the phone secure far longer than the manufactures even promise.
My original comment wasn’t a dig on Android support, it was a critique of the motive of forcing new hardware sales assign to Apple in the article. Apple could force far more sales by simply reducing their support lifetime to match that of comparable products, so I think that is a shallow analysis of their motivations for the repair restrictions.

Anonymoussays:

planned obsolescence

"Windows 7 support lasted 6 years (mainstream), 11 years (extended support), and is still receiving security updates…"

Which is still painfully inadequate. There’s no reason why a motorcar should last 16-20 years, but a computer programme should be made artificially obsolete. Cars rust away when drivers do stupid things, like try to drive them on Canadian winter roads. Computers and software, not so much. There’s no reason why a version of Windows from the turn of the millennium shouldn’t have been able to keep running today – it’s not going to mechanically rust – but MS has ensured its obsolescence by manufacturing compilers which, by default, turn out apps that refuse to run on NT2000 or XP. And it’s not just apps which are created with the affected compilers, it’s also device drivers – ensuring new hardware and new apps won’t work with old Windows. All completely artificial, a problem wilfully created.

And no, Apple is no better. And the new OS won’t run on many of the old computers because it’s a resource hog. So more working desktop PC’s to landfill. And don’t get me started about companies being allowed to retain copyright on materials which are out of print… especially if this content is not merely written poetry but is actual software or firmware needed to keep old equipment running.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

I thought they just slowed the CPU to compensate for aging batteries in older phones. Are you saying they’ve deliberately reduced battery life as well somehow? I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m not trying to defend Apple, just trying to understand what’s up. I’ve heard about the CPU slowing but this is the first I’ve heard about intentional battery degradation.

James Burkhardtsays:

Re: The "i" stands for "idiot"

Well, I for one have been quite frustrated anytime I have to deal with the android infrastructure. I get an iphone because I never bought an app my phone doesn’t support. I buy an iphone because a security update never required 10 hours researching which custom firmware to install for my specific phone build and which is going to brick my phone. I buy an iphone because its a communication device I need to just work. I am not looking for PC building 2.0. I get an iPhone because all of the advantages of Android are not advantages I put weight on. Its not because its a "premium product". Its because i hate working with the OS, and the hardware is designed with the same cheap components, or cheaper once you get out of the overpriced premium market.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: The "i" stands for "idiot"

"What moron would buy an Apple product anyway."

The Luser. The average John and Jane Does to whom changing a tire, filling the tank, switching the battery, installing programs, switching hard drives and taking backups…or in any other form, shape or way having options at all is such a chore the lure of technology which locks the user out of any decision other than That One Button compels them to overspend on the device Gates envisioned catering to the people that BOFH held in such raging contempt.

Apple is the brand aimed at children who never want to learn the most basic functions around the tech they use in daily life, designed by a man so disillusioned with humanity he felt the only way to supply them a product they liked was to make it one where every decision about its use was made by professionals rather than the unwashed masses.

It’s expensive! It is shiny! It has ONE Button! The people at Apple will make EVERY decision about your personal data! You don’t need to do Anything more than press That One Button!
And you can brag that your phone cost more than your car! And more to fix as well! What’s not to like!? ????
Ugh…????

ECAsays:

Re: Re: Re:

sub-standard repairs making their brand look bad.
And?
How much does Apple charge?
And if they were available. how much would a repair shop charge if they got them Direct from China. and NOT direct from apple?
I have a few friends that Break phones regularly. And changing from 1 android to another really ISNT a problem. Fixing them REALLY isnt a problem. AND buying a NEW phone that was made a couple years ago, AND having it still work and update from my LAST phone, ISNT A PROBLEM.
Backing up the phone ISNT a problem, and I dont need itunes to CONTROL my phone. I can Just Connect to my computer select EVERYTHING, and Just copy it to a folder.
If my phone breaks, and its a few years old, YEA, its cheaper then When I Bought it the first time.

basstabssays:

Re: planned obsolescence

This isn’t really true in principle. Windows probably releases new versions faster than it needs to, but there’s still fundamental changes in hardware, security, and stability that continue to happen. Old hardware becomes obsolete and code built specifically for that hardware becomes needless bloat. More efficient and safe coding practices are developed over time to produce software which runs better and uses hardware more efficiently. New vulnerabilities and attacks continue to pop up which require more and more work to defend against, for an ever increasingly small user base as time continues past a point of official support. It’s far easier to protect people across one or two relatively modern operating systems than it is to try and use a twenty year old codebase to protect against attacks that weren’t even possible on machines of the time.

There’s a reason why free operating systems like various Linux flavors also receive new versions and patches just like Windows even though those aren’t selling the new version for profit.

Now does Microsoft release new versions completely because of these reasons, and do they successfully execute on promises of improvement in all of these areas? Of course not, they tend to be bumbling oafs in a lot of instances, but it’s incorrect to say that there’s no reason for new versions of software to replace old ones.

Paul Bsays:

Re: Re: Re:

Battery Degradation is by design. Apple uses several tricks to ensure the battery useful life is about 3 years.

Charge Cycle management, Software tricks to allow smaller than reasonable battery size, And permanent non replaceable batteries are just a few tricks used to ensure a trip to the apple store after about 3 years of ownership.

I am shocked they do not use encryption key terminators directly connected to the battery like old arcade games so that replacing a battery requires an authorized apple repair tech to reboot the device.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: The "i" stands for "idiot"

"I buy an iphone because a security update never required 10 hours researching which custom firmware to install for my specific phone build and which is going to brick my phone."

…or you can go with the OEM Android version or get yourself a pixel and never worrying about any of that anymore than an iPhone owner does. At half the price and with by far more actual ownership of the phone.

If you want to run comparison between Apple and an android running a custom OS then you need to make it a jailbroken Apple running custom jobs as well. For any of the major android OEM’s your professed issues simply don’t exist. HTC. Moto. Samsung. Xiaomi…plenty of phone manufacturers out there whose support is on par with that of apple – arguably better since IF you screw up your phone tinkering with shit you can get it fixed anywhere, at cheaper cost.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Really, that’s your take? That I’m shilling for Apple? Did you not read my posts? I’m trying to find out more about this, but all I have so far is this other person’s comment saying "Apple does such and such". I used my Google-fu as well but no luck so far. I’m not on Apple’s or anyone else’s side here. I’m trying to educate myself on an issue I hadn’t heard of before. Is everyone on internet now so radically partisan about everything that wanting to know more about something immediately makes me a bad guy on the other side?

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