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France has initiated an investigation into Apple following allegations of “planned obsolescence” made by the organization Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP). The inquiry, which began in December, centers around Apple’s utilization of serialized repair parts.
HOP asserts that the company’s self-service repair program enables Apple to control repairs and limit functionality, potentially leading to restricted access for third-party technicians. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of the program due to the shipment of large and heavy tools to customers.
Apple’s self-service repair program requires customers to provide a device’s serial number when ordering parts for devices such as iPhones and Macs. Furthermore, these parts must be paired with the same device after installation.
HOP argues that this policy grants Apple the ability to restrict repairs exclusively to approved technicians, while also impeding the functionality of devices repaired with uncertified parts. By implementing these measures, Apple may further solidify its role as the sole arbiter of repairs, deciding which fixes are permissible and which are not.
The serial number requirement has not only raised eyebrows in France but also drawn disappointment from the do-it-yourself repair website iFixit. Elizabeth Chamberlain of iFixit expressed concern, stating, “Integrating a serial number check into their checkout process is a dire omen and could allow Apple the power to block even more repairs in the future.”
She added that Apple’s technological advancements in facilitating individual repairs position the company as the gatekeeper of approvals or denials for repairs from any source. This, in turn, could have far-reaching implications for the broader repair ecosystem.
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The investigation into Apple’s repair practices is being overseen by the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office. While no formal charges have been made against Apple as a result of HOP’s complaint, the organization has previously filed a complaint against the tech giant for throttling the performance of older iPhone models with aging batteries. This prior incident resulted in a €25 million fine imposed on Apple in France.
Apple’s self-service repair program has come under scrutiny in France, with allegations of “planned obsolescence” and concerns over repair restrictions and environmental impact. The investigation into the company’s practices is ongoing, with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office leading the inquiry. As this story develops, it remains to be seen what consequences, if any, Apple may face in relation to these allegations and the potential impact on the broader landscape of consumer electronics repair.