Do You Really Want More Repairability?

 Do You Really Want More Repairability?

Be careful what you wish for

I have never had a pair of Airpods Pro last more than a few years. I’ve had cases and earbuds replaced under warranty and under AppleCare+, but driving to the store or shipping them off is an inconvenience in itself, and it costs me time and money. Sooner or later, I snarl silently and order a new pair.

I’m lucky to be able to afford this self-spoiling excess; not everyone can. The fact that iFixit gave the OG AirPods Pro a 0 out if 10 repairability score is sad, but that the iPods Pro 2 still get the same zilch score is a bit outrageous.

Enter a man named Ken Pillonel who has designed an open source, take-apart case for the OG version that he says Apple could have done itself.

Yeah, not so pretty is it? It’s just the case, not the buds, and you’d need a lot of pricey equipment to make this yourself. The third party market for this is likely small (a large percentage of Pro buyers probably can and probably would rather buy new after a few years), so the initial cost might even be more than a new pair.

Finally, how long are you going to keep these doodads anyway? New versions, new features, take my money, right?

But still, couldn’t Apple make these more repairable? Sure, I guess, but given all I said above, there doesn’t seem to be any strong incentive.

Here’s an incentive

Let’s make a law! Hold Apple and everybody else accountable for this nonsense; make a law that says their expensive crap HAS to be repairable. That’ll fix ‘em!

Yep. I have little doubt that could be done, uglier and more expensive, but repairable. Companies like Apple might run this through their spreadsheets and still see a profit, but they might not. They might simply abandon the product.

And what about innovation?

Do you know that the air we breathe is a source of electricity?

Suppose someday Apple or Google could make Airpods that charged themselves and lasted nearly forever, but simply could not be repaired? Is that even possible? I have no idea, but just run with it for now.

If we had that Repairable law, Apple couldn’t make that device.

Recycle instead

We probably do need a law, though I don’t think repairability is the answer. I think recycling is something we should be doing for everything that is poisoning our air, our ground, and our water now. Do it by way of a recycling/disposal charge, an amount of money you pay when you buy and collect when you return a used thing, container, whatever to its manufacturer. Make it high enough to be near unthinkable to throw things away. No more 5 cent deposit returns, make it hurt to toss almost everything. Make the manufacturer responsible for recycling responsibly and legally, with horrendous fines if they cheat.

This would drive the initial cost of consumer goods sky high, especially if we keep doing things the way we do them now. Manufacturers would be looking hard to change packaging, design, and materials to reduce that cost and be more competitive. They’d want to produce repairable products, easier to recycle materials and packaging. The more they could do, the more competitive they could be. It would, however, be a massive shakeup for everyone. There would be wailing and tearing of hair throughout the land!

Don’t we need that though? Look at the mess we’ve made of the world with our highly laissez -faire manufacturing laws. This would put the responsibility where it belongs. The cost would be enormous, but we are currently facing tremendous challenges and risks from our current system which also will carry incredible costs in money, inconvenience, our health, and even our lives. Our world will be changing drastically, already is changing in many unpleasant ways. We may even be facing starvation and extinction ourselves!

Cannot be done

Realistically, I know we won’t do that. Few politicians would support it, not now anyway, and by the time enough would, it could be too late. It may even be too late already.

Great masses of voters would oppose it, and who could blame them? Sure, they’d get their extra cost back, but initially they’d be ponying up money that many simply do not have. They’d have to spend too much time returning packaging, sorting stuff out, it would be extremely burdensome.

It’s far too much to ask.

Yet how can we keep going as we are? How are we going to survive what every intelligent person knows is coming? Only the very wealthy, who are those who helped cause all of this, sometimes knowingly, have any chance of living well. How do the rest of us survive?


  • Please do leave a comment. Comments are payback by giving me and other readers new ideas. So disagree with me or point out something I missed — your thoughts matter!


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