According to a recently published internal email, Apple did not always know where to move Right to Repair policies and legislation. The 2019 discussion, provided to Congress to investigate its antitrust, highlighted the Apple PR team’s struggle to keep public messenger stories about internal repair developments open to Apple’s repair ecosystem Let’s open.
The email exchanges are part of a troop of documents published by the US House Judicial Committee around its antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. The committee’s first hearing on the subject was held yesterday by calling remotely with the CEOs of all tech companies.
In an email, Lori Lodds, former director of corporate communications, highlighted a number of incidents in which Apple supports more repair options while simultaneously opposing legislation in several states.
“There are very obvious things happening right now in a vacuum and not overall strategy,” Lods wrote to Steve Dowling, former VP of communications.
Apple’s policies are notorious within the repair community. Independent providers have to pay to become “authorized service providers”, which until last year, was the only way to get genuine Apple parts. Even now, independent stores cannot find the tools or parts to fix all the issues with Apple devices, only those that Apple specifically allows, like screen and battery fixes. In response to this, right-to-repair advocates want state legislation to require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to hold online manuals, provide equipment, and sell genuine parts.
Apple has argued that it is dangerous for people to open their electronics, it is difficult, and security can be compromised if independent repair shops have access to diagnostic equipment.
The issue surfaced on March 25, 2019, when two iMac manuals were put online, which was viewed by a freelancer for iFixit and asked for comment. Lods said the company’s environmental technology team uploaded these documents, and others in the company wanted to take it down. Lods said that he and the PR team feel that Apple “has to decide our strategy and execute against that direction.”
Finally, Lodes reported that the company would soon announce an in-house repair service with a third party repair service.
“With one hand we are making these changes and the other is actively fighting the Right to Repair law to use updated policies to take advantage of our situation in 20 states without real coordination,” Lodges said.
A few days after that first email, Lodes wrote that A. new York Times Reporter WaThe editorial board is planning a session citing the right-to-repair law and citing Apple as an example. Emails show significant disagreement about how to respond.
“The big issue is that our strategy around all of this is unclear,” Apple spokesman Kristin Huggett wrote. “Right now we are talking out of both sides of our mouth and no one is clear where we are going.”
Apple’s repair policy is often touted as the industry’s most aggressive way, including physical mechanisms such as proprietary screws and parts that only approved repair shops can access.
So far, right-to-repair advocates have cheered the release of the email, taking them as a sign that Apple may reconsider its strict stance on self-repair. “Public service manuals are helpful to your customers,” wrote self-repair group iFixit in a long post. “They are useful for recycling, they save the planet by extending the life of the product, and they are just plain to do the right thing. Do you want people to repair your products safely? Then teach them how to do it the right way. How to do it. “