The Throw Away Economy model may be enriching the fat cats but it is disastrous for the environment; in the long run it also does not make economic sense because it mis-allocates resources for unnecessary consumption. There is a pressing need to move to a “circular economy” business model of reuse, repair and recycle.
A throw-away economy TAE refers to the prevalence of consumer goods ( “non-durables” in marketing parlance) which only last for a short period of time. When they stop working we throw them away and replace them with new goods. Included in this genre are nearly all electronic goods, computers, phones, watches, music systems, medical devices, TVs, modems, etc. Also included are packing materials, gift wrappings, thermocol, single use plastic items.
Today, “built in obsolescence” is part of the business model of every manufacturer: the product is deliberately designed to last for the minimum number of years that the market can sustain without revolting, and then has to be thrown away and replaced ( the reason why you cannot get a new battery for your phone). Part of this devilish strategy is to make it impossible for the product to be repaired. There are various devious ways in which this is done: impose “do not touch” warranty conditions, deny product specs or information to third party repair shops, non-supply of spare parts. The consumer is ultimately left with no option but to junk his old item and buy a new one. (The Citizen)
When we live under this tyranny of subscriptions, we risk marching into that very realm that years ago we thought was only comedy – a clown world, a metaverse in real life. Many of these new subscriptions are unremarkable. Taco Bell’s taco subscription, for example, is really just a clever discount for tacos. But there’s also a new, different type of subscription: the type that, in order to exist, changes the very nature of what is being sold.
A subscription is inherently an unequal relationship. As more items get swallowed by that business model, more of our lives end up ruled by what is in the best-case scenario a benevolent dictator. Absent any recognition of that, this tyranny of subscriptions points toward a future in which we lose all concept of ownership and property rights and become, effectively, digital serfs.
For every software subscription a company sells, it should also offer an own-for-life alternative. Many companies do make available some of that, such as Tesla, Microsoft and even BMW. But we should enshrine such alternatives in law before they start doing away with them, as Adobe has done with Photoshop and nearly every other product. (The Globe and Mail)
New entrants to the reuse and repair market are offering items from reconditioned bicycles (Upway, Saikle) to smartphones (Back Market). Others sell the parts needed to do the work yourself (Spareka). These companies must “evangelize” the market according to the established jargon, in other words to change mores. “Quality refurbished products, accompanied by a guarantee: it is with this type of offer that we can compete with the purchase of new devices”.
The disruption of production chains, a consequence of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, also weighs in the balance. Faced with the shortage of equipment, manufacturers such as Samsung or Apple are seeking to have control of their product flows by offering trade-in devices. They must provide distributors with the spare parts they need for reconditioning purposes… but nothing prevents them from setting prohibitive prices. Thus, some parts are overpriced for refurbishers who are not Apple certified. Contacted by L’Express, the European Commission says it wants to fight the greenwashing through a Right to Repair directive, but has not planned any specific action at this stage on the crucial point of the price of parts.
Players in the second life are more broadly coming up against the resistance of brands, which “make 99% of their turnover with new products”, deplores Thibaud Hug de Larauze, CEO of Back Market. Further legislation will be needed to force manufacturers to cooperate more with repairers. The Dutch manufacturer Fairphone is leading the way, with its smartphones whose parts can be replaced with a simple screwdriver. In Sweden, the public authorities tax half the cost of repairs to encourage individuals to extend the life of their objects. (CALIFORNIA18)
You may own the device, but it pwns you: you can’t remove that DRM without facing a prison sentence, so the manufacturer can booby-trap its gizmos so that any time your interests conflict with its commercial imperatives, you will lose. As Jay Freeman says, DMCA 1201 is a way to turn DRM into a de facto law called “Felony Contempt of Business Model.” The DRM Wars rage on, under many new guises. These days, it’s often called the “Right to Repair” fight, but that’s just a corner of the raging battle over who gets to decide how the digital technology that you rely on for climate control, shelter, education, romance, finance, politics and civics work.
The copyright maximalists cheered DRM on as a means to prevent “piracy,” and dismissed anyone who warned about the dangers of turning our devices into ubiquitous wardens and unauditable reservoirs of exploitable software bugs as a deranged zealot.
The Copyright Wars have always been premised on the notion that tech companies should be so enormous that they can afford to develop and maintain the invasive technologies needed to police their users’ conduct to a fine degree. The Anti-Monopoly Wars are premised on the idea that tech and entertainment companies must be made small enough that creative workers and audiences can fit them in a bathtub… and drown them. (Gizmodo)
Not everyone can benefit from the scheme, as stated on the official Apple website. Self-Service Repair is designed for those who have the technical skills and know-how to restore electronic equipment on their own. The healthiest and most dependable approach to obtain a fix is to go to a qualified service provider with licensed experts and original Apple components. I’m afraid that the advice will just go unheeded, and broken iPhone displays will be commonplace all across the globe.
I’ve never attempted to fix an iPhone display before, however, I sat down to view one of iFixit’s superb iPhone 12 display repair tutorials. Amateur repair personnel might be in for a rude awakening if they get their hands on it. In order to replace the display on an iPhone 12 or flagship model, iFixit recommends using at least nine different tools and supplies, as well as ensuring that the battery is completely drained. Why? There is a lithium-ion battery within every smartphone that, if pierced, represents a fire threat or worse. (Technofication)