The different sales strategies of large companies in different countries and regions have always been one of the hot topics of discussion. Previously, when the iPhone 12 was on sale, a large number of users complained about the lack of chargers and earphones in the box.
At that time, it was also discovered that the iPhone 12 sold by Apple in France was equipped with EarPods headsets.
Coincidentally, some time ago, Apple once again "compromised" in France, adding a logo called product repairable points next to products such as iPhone and MacBook in its official website or offline showcase.
Why does French law impose so many restrictions on electronic products? Can product repairable points really make it easier and cheaper for us to repair products?
The repairable points want you to know if the phone is repairable
At present, Apple's official website in France has added a "repairable score" mark to the product details pages of iPhone, MacBook and other products. The repairable score is generally based on a 10-point system. The higher the score, the easier the repair.
The iPhone 12 scored 6 points, while the MacBook series scored between 5.6 and 7 depending on the model.
▲ The repairable points of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air equipped with M1 chip are both 6.5 points
In fact, the law introduced by France is not only aimed at the Apple family, but not even limited to products such as mobile phones and computers. The range of products involved includes home appliances such as mobile phones, computers, TVs and even washing machines.
Speaking of this, you might think of the repairability score evaluation system launched by the well-known repair website iFixit. In fact, the two do have a certain similarity. From the results, the iPhone 12's repairability scores on iFixit and the official website of Apple in France are both 6 points.
But this does not mean that the repairability score required by French law is the same as that of iFixit. Like the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iFixit score is 6 points, while the repair score given by the French official website for this product is only 4.6 points.
▲ The repairability rating of iPhone 11 on Apple's official website in France
▲ iFixit gave 6 points to iPhone 11
According to the iFixit website, the repairability score is usually evaluated by the team based on the difficulty of opening the device, the type of internal fastening accessories, and the complexity of replacing the main components, whether it can be repaired with non-proprietary tools, the degree of modularity of accessories, etc. score.
The repairability score evaluation rules stipulated by French law are more complicated. In addition to the replacement difficulty, accessory price and purchase difficulty similar to ifixit, it also adds indicators such as whether there is a repair guide. The content of these scoring options is transparent and open to the public. You can view the bonus and subtraction of each dimension on the official website.
Compared with iFixit's more transparent scoring mechanism, it really convinces more people, and the purpose of France's introduction of this law is to educate the public about the repairability of products.
After all, as the mobile phone, computer, and other industries are becoming more and more mature, the replacement cycle is further increasing. Compared with spending a lot of money to replace the phone, a large number of people will choose to repair it.
This will also further encourage people to choose products with higher repairability scores when purchasing electronic products such as computers and mobile phones, which will affect electronic product manufacturers to adjust their products or treat after-sales maintenance with a more open attitude, so that people can more convenient Repair your own products.
The reduction of electronic waste through independent maintenance is also in line with France's goal of increasing the repair rate of repaired electrical products, that is, from 2020, the repair rate of electronic products will be increased from 40% to 60% within five years.
The indicator of the repairable score of electronic products is also the actual embodiment of the right to repair in France, hoping to allow people to freely repair their mobile phones and computers.
▲ Unable to repair a large number of electronic products as e-waste. Picture from: NationSwell
This is also the result of the EU countries’ attaching importance to the laws related to repairability. According to the Associated Press, the EU has recently implemented a new law in 27 member states that requires the repair period of refrigerators, washing machines, hair dryers and other appliances to reach 10%. year.
In order to achieve this goal, the new regulations require electronic product manufacturers to guarantee the service life of parts as high as 10 years, and to provide corresponding product maintenance manuals so that they can be disassembled and recycled if they cannot be repaired.
The reason why Apple is often shown as a case when it comes to repair rights is because it, as one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers, has reservations about the repair of electronic products. The first is the high official repair price. Taking the iPhone 12 as an example, its screen repair price has reached 2,149 yuan, which is almost one-third of the product price.
On the other hand, due to device security and user privacy considerations, Apple has added many requirements for product disassembly and repair, which makes it very difficult for users to repair iPhone, Mac and other products by themselves.
It’s not easy to fix the phone by yourself
If you want to repair your mobile phone yourself, the first level is your hands-on ability. Although there are a lot of repair tutorials on the Internet, you still need to spend a lot of energy to learn. If you don't pay attention, unexpected problems may occur.
I had the experience of replacing the battery before. Before the replacement, I had to buy tweezers, screwdrivers, cleaning cloths, etc., and even used a hair dryer at the end. To understand the tools and tutorials, it is still difficult for people with 0 basics.
▲ iFixit will sell repair tools in the disassembly tutorial
But relatively speaking, practice makes perfect for hands-on ability. What's more important is that Apple's restrictions on dismantling iPhone, Mac and other products basically cut off the possibility of ordinary people dismantling and replacing parts by themselves.
Generally speaking, Apple will start with basic hardware and cooperate with software to protect product safety. For example, MacBook series have the well-known T2 chip. When the computer starts, it will verify whether the macOS system is an officially certified system to ensure that the computer is Start in a safe operating system.
In addition, the T2 chip has a special AES encryption engine to protect the data stored in the computer hard drive. It is very difficult to erase the data. Even if it is removed and installed on another Mac, it still cannot be used, because when it is turned on for the first time, The T2 chip in the machine locks and protects the hard disk.
This will cause a problem. If users forget to clear the data when selling their second-hand MacBook, the recycler will not be able to sell the product again. After all, the MacBook cannot be used without the login password.
There are even failures to contact the original user. As a result, recyclers can only disassemble and sell these second-hand MacBooks worth a few thousand yuan. Third-party repairers will also be unable to conduct deep-level disassembly of the product due to the hardware limitations of the T2 chip. Solution repair.
After Apple announced the migration of the MacBook series to the ARM architecture and the launch of the self-developed chip, the characteristics of the T2 chip will also be exported to the M1 self-developed chip. Similar soft and hard cooperative protection is not limited to the MacBook series, including Apple products such as iPhone and iPad. There are similar settings, and Apple has also set up a security page on the official website to interpret the corresponding functions in detail.
It can be said that Apple’s starting point to protect product safety and user privacy is not problematic, but it does restrict third-party repairers from repairing iPhone, Mac and other products, let alone ordinary users.
Therefore, there are a large number of third-party repairers on the market. Most of the iPhone repairs are limited to the battery, screen, back cover, etc., and Apple will notify the iOS system if it is an uncertified component for the replacement of the screen, battery, etc. , To remind users of safety.
▲ Pop-up reminder
Because of the high official repair price and limited third-party repair items, users will choose AppleCare+ service launched by Apple to reduce the repair price when damaged. In the previous article, we mentioned that AppleCare+ has nearly 4 billion U.S. dollars in revenue ( 2017 data), this is also the reason why many users complain about Apple's profit-seeking in product maintenance.
The IRP (Independent Repair Provider) program, which was previously regarded as Apple’s opening to third-party repairs, also has slow progress and strict requirements. According to the foreign media Input , the program requires repairers to recruit Apple-certified technicians to complete the training. It is also necessary to emphasize to the customer that this is not an official repairer.
During the period, Apple will also conduct random inspections of authorized service providers from time to time, and even Apple can still conduct audits within five years of withdrawing from the plan.
This has caused the third-party maintenance providers of the access plan to spend a lot of time and cost to train the personnel, the profit is not as good as the official, the audit requirements are high, and the cost requirements are high, resulting in the unsatisfactory progress of the service provider introduction.
In fact, Apple is not the only one that requires strict maintenance of mobile phones and other electronic products. There are indeed safety considerations. After all, once an accident occurs, the brand's reputation will be greatly damaged, and the brand will even disappear.
The repairable sub-system is not perfect, but it is a good start
The reservation attitude of mobile phone manufacturers to repairs is indeed well-founded. Both safety and brand protection have prompted them to expand slowly in this area. The repairable sub-system launched by France is hoping to change this situation.
However, it is obviously impossible to hope that the repairable points can solve the maintenance problem once and for all. There are still many areas worthy of improvement. It will not be until 2022 that companies will be fined for failing to comply with relevant laws.
Mobile phone manufacturers have to adapt to this system and get high scores. It is a shortcut to design mobile phone molds that are more suitable for disassembly. However, the modular design itself is contrary to the mobile phone integration and integration design trend.
As a portable mobile device, people obviously do not want the mobile phone to be too heavy and thick. The integration and integration of various components is to make better use of the internal space of the mobile phone and further reduce the thickness.
▲ Since iPhone X, Apple has used L-shaped batteries to increase battery capacity while maximizing the use of mobile phone space. Picture from iFixit
The significance of the repairable sub-system is to allow consumers to have a basis for their choices and use consumer voting to promote electronic product manufacturers to reform the repair system, taking into account safety and improving the repair experience.
Changes have indeed occurred. For example, in order to increase the repairability score of its products, Samsung added a detailed online repair guide to its Galaxy S21 Plus shortly after the French law was introduced for people's reference.
As a head manufacturer, Samsung’s rapid follow-up is likely to trigger a wave of follow-ups. Providing online repair guides for mobile phones may become a new industry standard. This is not only beneficial to users with flagship mobile phones, but also low-end users. Users of the model will benefit even more.
Due to price and cost reasons, manufacturers pay less attention to low- and mid-range models, let alone maintenance.
In the foreseeable future, the controversy caused by the repair of electronic products will not disappear, and this controversy is one of the best tools to promote manufacturers to change. The emergence of the repairable sub-system means the beginning of new changes. It is a A quantitative evaluation system is also a bridge for dialogue between consumers and manufacturers.
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