Friday, January 04, 2019

Apple: don't fix your phone, peasant!

Seen at Slashdot and at Instapundit, this datum should inform your choice for your next phone. You'll have to decide if you want to pay a thousand bucks for a phone that can't be repaired.

The lengthy [Apple shareholder] letter cites, specifically, that people are buying fewer iPhones because they are repairing their old ones. Apple has long fought efforts that would make iPhones easier to repair: It has lobbied against right to repair efforts in several states, doesn't sell iPhone replacement parts, sued an independent repair professional in Norway, worked with Amazon to get iPhone and MacBook refurbishers kicked off Amazon Marketplace, and has deals with electronics recyclers that require them to shred iPhones and MacBooks (as opposed to allowing them to be refurbished.) The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, has seized iPhone replacement parts from prominent right to repair activists in the United States.

[...] Apple has never clearly articulated why it doesn't want people to fix their own iPhones or to have independent experts repair them. It has previously said that iPhones are "too complex" for users to repair them, even though replacing a battery is pretty easy and is done by average users all the time. But the fact that repair hurts Apple's bottom line came out in Cook's official communication with shareholders, who he is legally obligated to tell the truth to.

Now, we all knew this at some visceral sort of level. Down deep in your heart, you could feel that Apple did not want you to fix that iPhone. They don't sell repair parts, right? I can get repair parts for almost anything from a shovel to a big-screen TV. I can certainly get parts for my Samsung phone. But not an iPhone. And why couldn't you even open an iPhone without all kinds of specialized knowledge and tools? Because they wanted you to give up and buy a new one.

We have also seen that Apple really and truly was slowing down older phones and iPads. You didn't imagine it, it was slower. Which would have been okay-ish, I suppose, if they hadn't done it in secret. Which they certainly did.

I've seen a few generations of these phones taken apart. They are -shoddy- inside. Things like wifi antennas break because they are made of super thin plastic and stuck on with hot-melt glue like a kid's craft project. The phone gets hot, the glue softens, and the antenna wanders out of its socket. Or the plastic perishes and the teensy-tiny little ribbon wires break. Engineers don't do things like that by accident. They know it will break. But more than that, they know -when- it will break.

Back in the 1970s with the Ford Pinto we all learned a new term: planned obsolescence. This is a business maneuver where a company designs a traditionally durable-good product, like a car, dishwasher, phone, electric motor or what have you, with a deliberately limited lifespan. The Ford Pinto was famous because it rusted out in four-to-five years, and would go on fire in low-speed collisions.  Ford made it that way to maximize profit by minimizing production and material costs. They calculated that it would be cheaper to pay off potential lawsuits than build the car properly. And, they knew it would be easier to buy a new car than fix the rusty one.

Tim Cook and company in the Apple leadership seem to have remembered the planned obsolescence part, but they forgot the part where Ford nearly went bankrupt from the class-action lawsuits over corrosion and exploding cars killing people. The company was served with murder charges, which nearly sent the Ford corner-office guys to jail in 1980.

Lately we've seen a big advertising push from Apple that their next-gen 10-s phones will last longer, to be more environmentally friendly.

Sure. I believe those boys care about the environment. Because their failed attempt to make the phones legally unrepairable would have nothing to do with that, right?

Note to read-until-offended Lefties: When I say that Silicon Valley Liberals are a bunch of lying assholes who do not mean a single word they say, this type of thing above is why. Tim Cook, for sure, does not care a single damn about the environment, or Diversity!!!, or anything other than the almighty dollar. Just turn the sound off and watch what he does.

UPDATE: It seems Apple has finally discovered that humans don't like being spied on.

My thoughts on this parallel my thoughts on Tim Cook's ecology crusade. Their whole business model is built on iPhones tracking their owner's movements and interests. They make more out of selling that data to advertisers than they make out of selling the phones.

Seeing that sign makes me giggle. What happens on your iPhone gets transmitted to Cupertino every ten seconds.

To be fair, Android is no better. The only difference between them is the location of the server farms. But please, lets not pretend Apple gives a good Goddamn about your privacy. They're the reason you don't have any.


Zsuzsa said...

Of course Mr. Cook cares about the environment. He firmly believes that OTHER people should live more simply and OTHER companies should sacrifice their bottom lines. If you ask him about the hypocrisy of it, I doubt he'd even know what you were talking about.

Incidentally, I'm typing this reply on a laptop with no down arrow key, a keyboard that now slopes about 15 degrees, and a touchpad that tends to stop working after about 15 minutes. I alternate between hating the stupid thing and clinging to it because I know that whatever I eventually get to replace it is going to be even less reliable.

paladin3001 said...

One thing you missed in your rant. Apple was bricking iPhones that had been repaired by "third party" vendors. Picture someone who has an iPhone in the middle of nowhere (Eastern Europe if I remember correctly) who couldn't just walk into the nearest Apple store (around 500 to 1000 miles away over three or four borders. Someone fixes it in an unaffiliated shop and next update, *poof* you are carrying a bricked device. Reasons like that, and the cult of Apple are major reasons why I don't want to use their devices or products.

The Phantom said...

Didn't know about the bricking phones thing. That's evil.

You know, about the only thing I liked with Apple devices was Plants vs. Zombies. Now that I can get it on my Samsung, I have no reason at all to use an Apple device. The Samsung Note is a superior experience in every way.

This is not to say that the Samsung is perfect, but it beats an iPhone for my purposes.

Jay Maynard said...

I was in the market for a laptop earlier this year. It was time to retire my 2010 MacBook Pro, since it would not run Mojave (graphics adapter isn't supported by Metal, which is a Mojave requirement). So I went to Apple's site to look at the prices for current MBPs.

The configuration I wanted, with an 8th generation 6-core Core i7, 512 GB of solid state disk, 16 GB of RAM, and a 15-inch Retina Display, was $2800.

Then I went to the System76 site. A friend had bought one of their laptops, and liked it, so I checked it out. Pretty much the identical configuration on an Oryx Pro, including the 15-inch 4K display. $2200.

And even better: the Oryx Pro can be repaired and upgraded. The MBP? Not a chance of upgrading anything at all.

Guess which one I bought? Yeah, the Oryx Pro runs Linux, not OS X, but I'm not entirely sure I like the direction OS X is going, anyway.

The Phantom said...

Hi Jay,

Friend of mine made a Hackintosh with an Intel i7 motherboard. It has better specs than the top-of-the-line Mac, and it cost less than $1500 Canadian. More RAM, more storage, faster CPU, better video card. Runs the latest OSX, no problem. He uses it in place of an old iMac he had running his home theater setup.

There's probably nothing stopping an intrepid lad from doing that on a laptop. Get one of those nice HP Pavilion or Spectre laptops, and put OSX on there. Or, if you're cheap like I am, ACER makes a really nice tablet-format PC with a fold-down keyboard. I use it to write my books when I'm on the road. It is about the same size and heft as an iPad, has an Intel i5 processor and runs Win10 flawlessly. $700 CDN. Cheap like borscht.

I'm sure it could run Linux or maybe even OSX as well. Or be a multi-boot box with all three on there. Its got lots of headroom.

Jay Maynard said...

I didn't consider a Hackintosh - or a cheap laptop that I'd have had to install Linux on myself, either - because, to me, a laptop is a tool. I need an appliance that I can simply plug in and run, without having to fiddle with the machine itself. If I'm fiddling with the machine or the OS to make it do what it's supposed to, then I'm not getting done what I have the machine to do in the first place.

Yeah, I've got the technical chops to do it. What I don't have is the time.

I have no doubt it can be done, and it's the right answer for others. For me, the extra cost in getting a machine with Linux preinstalled and tested and that Just Works is worth it.

Orvan Taurus said...

Once upon a time I knew a fellow who did some IT stuff for the place he worked for, and they always went with Acer due to price. I said something about gateway and he said he wished they could go that step up. Years later, I bought an Acer monitor... and that was, and likely will be, the first and very last Acer product I bought or ever will buy. Even if I am willing to invest some time and effort in things, there needs to be a quality foundation to build upon. While System76 pricing does give me "sticker shock" that it is a Known Good Product does mean something. I might not go that way for MY next purchase, but I know where I refuse to go.

That's for laptops. For desktop stuff... I cannot quite manage to make modern machinery out of "stone knives and bear skins" but a few things in my past might suggest the possibility. I prefer to be a bit more "turn-key" than that, even if 'some assembly required' is the true reality.

The Phantom said...

Hi Orvan,

I have an Acer monitor sitting on my desk, it works great. Always can get a lemon though, that's for sure. Acer, Asus, Samsung, HP, I've got all kinds of Frankenstein stuff around here.

For work, I build all the PCs myself. Made to order for the job intended, super cheap, better grade of parts by far than anything you'll see in the Dell ready-made machines. Sometimes Intel, sometimes AMD, whatever is on sale when I spec it out. I've built ten the last few years. All still working fine.

So far the only problems I ever have with any of them is the operating system and printers. Getting them to scan and print reliably and back up over the network are semi-permanent issues.

Example, this box I'm working on just updated. It can't see anything else on the network right now. It'll take ten minutes to reset everything the update broke. One PC is nothing, but you start talking about eight boxes in three locations, that's getting to be some work. >:(