Apple did not always know what public stance to take on rights repair policies and legislation, according to recently released internal reports. The discussion in 2019, given to Congress for antitrust investigation, underscores Apple’s PR team’s struggle to maintain the cohesion of public messages amid stories covering interior repairs that seem to open up Apple’s repair ecosystem.
The e-mail exchanges are part of a collection of documents published by the U.S. Court of Justice Committee on antitrust investigations into Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. The first hearing of the committee on this topic took place yesterday at five o̵7;clock, when the heads of all technology companies addressed remotely.
In one email, Lori Lodes, a former director of corporate communications, highlighted numerous cases in which Apple seemed to support multiple repair options while defying legislation in several states.
“It’s pretty clear now that things are going on in a vacuum, and there’s no overall strategy,” Lodes wrote to former Vice Communist Steve Dowling.
Apple’s policy is known in the repair environment. Independent suppliers have to pay to become “authorized service providers,” which until last year was the only way to get genuine Apple parts. Even now, independent stores can’t get the tools or parts to solve all the problems with Apple devices, only those that Apple specifically allows, such as screen and battery fixes. In response, legal advocates want government law to require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to post manuals online, make tools available, and sell genuine parts.
Apple says it’s dangerous for people to open electronics, it’s difficult, and safety can be compromised if independent repair shops have access to diagnostic tools.
The issue became popular on March 25, 2019, when two iMac manuals were posted on the Internet, which the freelancer for iFixit noticed and asked for comment. Lodes said the company’s environmental technology team had downloaded the documents, and other people at the company wanted them removed. Lodes said she and the PR team believe that Apple should “decide what our strategy is and take it.”
Finally, Lodes noted that the company will soon announce a home repair service through a third-party repair service.
“On the one hand, we are making these changes, and on the other hand, we are actively fighting against the right to repair in 20 countries without real coordination on how the updated policy can be used to strengthen our position,” Lodes said.
A few days after that first email, Lodes wrote that New York Times reporter ands plans to revise the council on repair law and cite Apple as an example. Emails show significant differences in how to respond.
“The more important issue is that our strategy around all this is unclear,” wrote Christine Guget, Apple’s spokeswoman. “Now we are talking on both sides of the mouth, and no one understands where we are going.”
Apple’s repair policy is often seen as the most aggressive in the industry, including physical mechanisms such as branded screws and parts that can only be accessed by those who have approved the repair.
Until now, proponents of legal repair have welcomed the release of e-mails, seeing them as a sign that Apple may reconsider its strict stance on self-repair. “Public service guides are useful for your customers,” the iFixit self-repair team wrote in a long post. “They’re good for recyclers, they’re saving the planet by increasing product life, and they just figured out what to do.” Do you want people to repair your products safely? Then teach them to do it right. ”