Is electronics heading to be less and less hackable? DIY site iFixit has been keeping tabs on the tech world whilst providing handy self-repair guides for popular electronics. Now the site maintainers have seen trend that electronics products seem to become intentionally harder and harder to fix in recent years.
The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable article tells that the Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case.
iFixit’s Kyle Wiens on How to Dismantle the War on DIY Electronics article tells that in recent years, Apple and other hardware manufacturers have made it liquid-crystal clear that they’re not fond of the idea that customers can tear open and fix products without the help of licensed repair specialists.
Wiens says “Consumers have to demand robust, reliable products.” Unfortunately, in the consumer tech industry, that rarely seems to be the case. Thus the cycle perpetuates, with manufacturers producing computers and gadgets that break down after several years and are quickly replaced with newer, similarly-specced machines.
Wiens said that if machines in other industries were to break down over a handful of years and couldn’t be easily repaired, consumers would openly revolt. In the electronics world, however, economics trump sustainability every time. Consumers aren’t the only ones getting ripped off — human rights and the environment are also taking a hit.
The upgradable computer is under attack. There are fewer upgradable laptops on the market these days thanks to their thin, “sealed” designs. Apple and every other PC maker on the planet are pushing thin laptops, not to mention even thinner tablets. Problem is, really thin computers are, by design, “sealed.” That means, fewer and fewer upgradable computers. And don’t expect things to improve. Freedom to Tinker is under attack. Even if repairing as easy as ordering a part online and following a few instructions gleaned from a Google search, hardware companies generally seem to prefer we keep the hood closed.
The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable article tells that the design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole. The success of the non-upgradeable Air empowered Apple to release the even-less-serviceable iPad two years later: The battery was glued into the case. And again, we voted with our wallets and purchased the device despite its built-in death clock. In the next iteration of the iPad, the glass was fused to the frame. We have consistently voted for hardware that’s thinner rather than upgradeable.
Do we we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere or just watch the trend as it goes on?