What’s Apple’s stance on Right to Repair?

In a surprising turn of events, Apple publicly endorsed the Right to Repair bill in the state of California. But what would this really mean for the corporation’s practices and the wider industry?

staff | TPIN

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Shaam Beed

Designed to Last Intern, McGill University '24

The Senate Bill 244, which was co authored by state Senator Susan Eggman, stipulates that corporations must provide consumers and independent repair shops the tools, parts and repair information they need to fix broken electronics and appliances. This bill falls within a broader wave of legislation fighting for the Right to Repair, a movement which has gained momentum in states like New York, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Major corporations like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, have historically lobbied hard against Right to Repair legislation, keeping repair instructions out of the hands of their customers and contributing to the vicious disposable device cycle.Apple spent $9,360,000 on lobbying in 2022.Therefore, the companies recent support of the Right to Repair bill is a huge victory for the movement. Whether the California-based corporation was motivated by changing public opinion or out of the goodness of its heart, it is making the right decision for our future. Apple’s support carries weight beyond California and into the halls of national government, which paves the way for more legislation and broader access to repair materials.

In the past couple of years, Apple has independently tried to incorporate its own versions of repair programs. In 2019, it launched its Independent Repair Program (IRP), which aimed to provide more parts and information to independent repair shops in order to broaden access to repair beyond authorized Apple repair shops. However, the inconvenient contract that shop owners had to fill out was almost not worth the hassle and illustrates Apple’s desire to exert strict control over repairs.

In Spring 2022, Apple launched its Self Service Repair program, which offered new options for customers who wanted to conduct DIY repairs. It came about after Apple received pressure from government bodies and shareholders to provide more access to parts and service instructions. This program was a step in the right direction, but there were a number of loopholes customers had to jump through, such as device-specific parts and “parts-pairing.” Although hardware has become more accessible recently, “parts-pairing” requires the software to approve repairs and limits individuals from repairing their own devices.

Legislation, however, requires far more of these corporations, including the supply of all parts, tools and information that they provide their authorized repair partners. In addition, legislation could place a check on Apple’s “parts-pairing” scheme by enforcing existing rules against “tying.” These laws prevent corporations from tying the use of one product to the purchase of additional products or services, including company-authorized repair technicians.

CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom provided expert testimony in support of the Right to Repair ActPhoto by Staff | TPIN

Finally, corporations may be moving in the right direction and supporting Right to Repair, leaving behind a wasteful business model which profits from costly repairs and disposable electronics. Apple’s landmark support for the California bill may launch a domino effect that exerts pressure on other corporations to increase access to repair material. Significant cracks have appeared in tech companies’ monopoly on the repair process, and the walls may soon come tumbling down.


Shaam Beed

Designed to Last Intern, McGill University '24

Lucas Gutterman

Director, Designed to Last Campaign, PIRG

Lucas leads PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, fighting against obsolescence and e-waste and winning concrete policy changes that extend electronic consumer product lifespans and hold manufacturers accountable for forcing upgrades or disposal.