The Week in Repair: Jan 4-11

Examining Google’s repair track record as shareholders call for change

Green Century Capital Management, the same group that pushed Apple to clean up its restrictions on device repair, announced on Jan. 3 that they had filed a similar resolution with Alphabet, Google’s parent company. So what is Google’s track record on repair? 

A search of lobbying records related to Right to Repair bills shows Google fighting the passage of key legislation in a number of states (including California and Colorado, according to PIRG analysis). Bloomberg and the New York Times have reported on Google’s lobbying on state legislation as well. As was reported in Bloomberg and by the Fight to Repair blog, Google’s lobbyist raised a number of rather dubious warranty concerns in Colorado, which helped defeat that legislation. (uspirg.org)

Biden backs right to repair in talk to Farm Bureau

Biden said that farmers deserve affordable seeds and other inputs and the right to repair their equipment themselves, and that the administration is spending $1 billion to increase meat processing capacity, which has been a sensitive subject since meat workers came down with COVID-19 in 2020 and meat plants had to reduce operations, which led to declines in cattle prices. (thefencepost.com)

CES 2022: Spybulbs and Tractors and NFTVs…oh my!

Cybersecurity is kind of the Madwoman in the Attic at any CES: a haunting presence everyone knows is there, lurking in the background but that nobody wants to talk about. So we took a look at some of this year’s security, privacy and sustainability fails at CES, from surveillance light bulbs(??) to autonomous tractors to NFT spewing televisions. (fighttorepair.substack.com)

Repair incentives keep e-waste out of landfills

Global electrical waste (e-waste) is set to grow to 75 million metric tonnes by 2030 according to the United Nations Global E-waste Monitor report. That’s concerning, not least because many of the products we’ve discarded could be reused, reducing the need to produce more, but also because e-waste tends to contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment.The good news is that emerging incentives, trends and laws are making it easier for consumers to repair their products. Repair bonuses are one example. (weforum.org)

Microsoft releases its own teardown and repair video for Surface Pro

Microsoft’s Surface YouTube channel has released its own deconstruction video for the budget-friendly Surface Laptop SE. A Microsoft engineer disassembles the laptop (with iFixit tools, no less) in the video, documenting each step along the way.

Shareholders pressure Microsoft into expanding its right-to-repair efforts In response to shareholder pressure, Microsoft has promised to ramp up its repairability efforts in the future, including expanding the availability of parts and documentation and making it easier for third-party service providers to do repairs. This video presumably falls under the umbrella of “documentation,” and hopefully we’ll see the same treatment given to other Surface devices in the future. (bollyinside.com)

Mass lawmakers file bills to delay auto right to repair

The auto industry is making a last-ditch effort to delay implementation of a new automotive right to repair law in Massachusetts as it fights to overturn the voter-approved law in federal court. Two proposals heard Monday by the Legislature’s Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, backed by the auto industry, would delay the starting date of the law to the 2025 model year, giving auto manufacturers three more years to comply. Backers of Question 1 are ripping efforts to overturn the law and called on lawmakers to reject the proposals to delay its implementation. (newburyportnews.com)

Worst of CES Awards: the least private, least secure, least repairable, and least sustainable

Six right-to-repair advocates assembled on Friday morning to present Repair.org’s second annual Worst in Show Awards, a selection of the “the least private, least secure, least repairable, and least sustainable gadgets at CES.

Kyle Wiens, co-founder of iFixit, gave the new Mercedes EQS EV the award for the worst product in terms of repairability. Showing a slide of the warning screen the car presents to its driver, he said, “You cannot open the hood of the car. It is locked, warning of accident, warning of injury if you open the hood. Mercedes’ perspective is, ‘Hey, this is an electric car. There’s nothing the owner needs to do under the hood of this car. (theregister.com)

2021: The Year of Owning It

Talking over the year in review on the Hackaday Podcast, we brainstorm what we thought was the single overarching trend in 2021, and we came up with many different topics: victories in the right to repair, increasingly dystopian service contracts, a flourishing of cyberdecks, and even greater prevalence of reverse engineering style hacks. And then we realized: they are all different faces of the same beast — people just want to own the devices that they own. (hackaday.com)

Consumer advocates want the right to repair as quickly as possible

A new ecodesign directive with the principle of “repairing instead of throwing away” has been in force in the EU since March 2021. Manufacturers of washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, and other large household appliances must ensure that replacement parts are available for seven to ten years. It is primarily about small parts such as seals or dishwasher spray arms. In addition, the products must be built in such a way that they can be disassembled with conventional tools without breaking anything. The aim is to reduce the huge mountain of electronic waste that accumulates every year in Europe.

German industry is open to a repair index and also to a right to repair. However, it must be adapted to the respective products, explained the deputy chief executive of the industry association BDI, Holger Lösch. In the case of large household appliances, it could make more ecological sense to buy new, energy-efficient products than to repair old ones. An EU-wide regulation and the avoidance of special national rules are important. (marketresearchtelecast.com)

Poll: Consumers skeptical of cell-phone and electronic durability

The industries with the most negative sentiment when it comes to durability are cell phones (40%), clothes and accessories (40%), and other consumer electronics (41%).

These results are significant against the backdrop of wider issues and movements related to the durability of these product categories. When it comes to electronics, there are growing concerns around planned obsolesce and movements such as ‘right to repair’ are gaining steam in response. There has also been increased awareness around the perils of fast fashion in recent years, while the recent COP 26 conference has shed more light on the environmental impact of consumption.

For instance, only 29% of consumers in developed markets think that brands are ‘doing a fair bit’ or ‘doing their best’ to ensure cell phones are durable. That figure rockets up to 61% among consumers in emerging markets. (yougov.co.uk)

Car owners turn to DIY repair since the start of pandemic

Consumers haven’t seemingly replaced do-it-for-me service by taking care of their vehicle needs themselves. Instead, according to an industry analyst, they’re adding do-it-yourself work on top of it.

The NPD Group polled consumers and asked what they were doing with their newfound free time. Do-it-yourself auto care was noted by 12.2 per cent of respondents. Also on the list were travelling and road trips (18.8 per cent) — which has a direct impact on the aftermarket — learning new skills (23.7 per cent) and outdoor activities (30.7 per cent). The last two could relate to the aftermarket, Shipley observed, as some of the skills people learned were around auto care and outdoor activities usually involve the use of automotive equipment. (autoserviceworld.com)

Dell’s new retro laptop concept is repairable

Concept Luna is a laptop aimed at helping Dell achieve its environmental goals by offering parts that are easier to repair, reuse, and recycle. The machine is built to open up easily, so you can harvest its motherboard or other parts to use in future systems. Through this process, Dell hopes that a motherboard will be able to be used in up to three machines.

That’s a huge breakthrough for the growing Right to Repair movement, which has been working to pass legislation to make sure that all Americans have the right to repair not just their phones but anything they buy and own. (flyingpenguin.com)

Big Tech’s Next Monopoly Game: Your Car

The smartphone wars are over, and Google and Apple won. Now they — and Amazon — are battling to control how you operate within your car. All three see autos as the next great opportunity to reach American consumers, who spend more time in the driver’s seat than anywhere outside their home or workplace. And automakers, after years of floundering to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into cars on their own, are increasingly eager for Silicon Valley’s help — hoping to adopt both its tech and its lucrative business models where consumers pay monthly for ongoing services instead of shelling out for a product just once.

Now, having missed the boat as the tech giants cornered the market on smartphones, some policymakers and regulators believe the battle over connected cars represents a chance to block potential monopolies before they form. (politico.com)

Nebraska Senator pushes right to repair for Ag Equipment

Senator Brandt is working on LB 543, which is a Right to Repair bill for ag producers. “You can go to a local downtown shop and have your (car) repaired because those mechanics have access to the diagnostics to fix stuff,” Brandt said. “We don’t have that ability yet in agriculture and that’s what that bill would ask for.” (newschannelnebraska.com)

The 3 most impactful circularity trends in 2021

The Right to Repair movement saw traction across the pond, as repairability scores for electronics rolled out in France, appliances gained repair protections in Britain and the EU proposed universal charging cords for smartphones.

Meanwhile in the United States: The first electronics right to repair bill was passed in New York state, a national repair bill was filed in congress and President Joe Biden signed an executive order to ensure repairability for farming equipment. The Federal Trade Commission even weighed in with an exhaustive 55-page report, rejecting manufacturers’ excuses for imposed repair restrictions. (greenbiz.com)

Treadmill owners hack equipment to get custom experience

The hack block has further spurred the right-to-repair debate in which customers want companies to let them change the products they purchase. Largely, customers balk at being forced to bring their products back to the company for repairs.

There has been a shift in attitude from companies on right-to-repair, such as iPhone makers Apple, who recently announced it would release repair manuals and spare parts for repairs of their products.

As for NordicTrack, the company told Wired it supports right-to-repair rules but restricts its software to tinkering due to the treadmill’s moving parts, which is a safety issue. This won’t stop treadmill owners from constantly finding ways to work around software security. (torontosun.com)

Framework develops modular laptop that users can fix and upgrade themselves

Currently on display as part of the Waste Age exhibition at London’s Design Museum, the laptop is one of a growing cohort of devices, including the modular Fairphone, that recognise consumers’ “right to repair”.

“We believe each consumer should have the fundamental right and ability to repair any product they purchase,” CEO, Nirav Patel explained.

“We all have that drawer of shame of devices that are broken or have dead batteries or couldn’t get that latest software update. None of us want that, and the right to repair is an essential part of solving it.” (dezeen.com)

Other Repair News…

Microsoft is beating Apple in one area: right to repair (TechRadar.com)

Back Market receives funding as refurbished electronics market grows (ZDNet.com)

Right to repair among things to expect in 2022 (news.yahoo.com)

Nonprofit technicians petition for repairable bikes (bicycleretailer.com)

Sustainability in 2022: The e-waste problem (blog.gwi.com)

Augmented reality takes the sting out of right to repair (cgsinc.com)

Why its hard to repair our stuff and how that could change in Illinois (IllinoisPirg.org)

Job Opportunity: London Network Lead at The Restart Project (therestartproject.org)

Vietnam aims for ‘circular economy’ with recycling law (asia.nikkei.com)

Google Pays Apple to Stay Out of the Search Engine Business, Class Action Lawsuit Alleges (macrumors.com)

Remember when Apple seemed to know about their own products? (asia.nikkei.com

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