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11 April 2022
Right to repair and the coming shift in consumer tech
SustainabilityNet zeroMobile devices
While right to repair laws have come into action in several territories around the world, that hasn’t necessarily meant spare parts, but certain major tech brands are now changing their tune – in part, because it’s what the vast majority of consumers want.
Effectively, it boils down to a story in The Verge reporting that Google and Samsung have inked a deal with the US-based spares and tools seller (and how-to-website) iFixit to sell spare parts. While Apple remains the holdout, the momentum is building.
Not only has it been an environmental problem, it is simply unreasonable when smartphones are both essential and expensive.
The legal landscape
Both in Europe and the US, legislation to ensure the right to repair has been the subject of intense lobbying from companies whose bottom lines have done very well from consumers having to replace the entire product rather than just a faulty part. These are now coming to fruition.
In France, consumer tech firms must display the “Repairability Score” (yes, even Apple has to). The kicker comes from a Samsung France commissioned study analysing the effect of the rule change.
Those effects have been profound: 80% of respondents to the study would give up their favourite brand for a more repairable product. Furthermore, it appears that for 86% of French consumers, repairability scores will have some bearing on their future purchases.
Serious rules can shift behaviour among consumers and brands.
However, it’s unlikely that home-repairs will become a mainstream concern in the short-term. Much of the effort on right to repair in the US, for instance, is coming from farmers who want to repair their own tractors rather than having to go to a dealership; for most smartphone owners, it’s still probably better to get a professional to repair your device.
While most would rather continue selling new phones, it’s important that consumer tech brands begin preparing for a world where consumers have a right to repair and how they can make sure they keep repairing your brands’ phone rather than going elsewhere.