Google in full support of Oregon’s right to repair legislation
Google has recently released an open letter that expresses strong support for the pending right to repair legislation in Oregon. In the letter, Google’s Devices and Services Director of Operations, Steven Nickel, praises the proposed bill and sees it as a model that other states should follow.
In addition to this statement, Google has also published a white paper detailing how repairability can contribute to the company’s sustainability goals. The document also highlights the durability of Google’s flagship Pixel devices, which are promised to have software support for up to seven years.
The right to repair movement has been gaining significant momentum in recent years. This October, California became the third state to pass a right to repair bill, following in the footsteps of New York and Minnesota. The surprising thing, however, is that even Apple backed this move. At the time, there were already 10 other states working on their own versions of the bill.
Senator Janeen Sollman, the sponsor of the new Oregon bill, has been openly critical of Apple’s apparent efforts to limit the scope of their proposal. After meeting with the company at their California offices, Sollman shared her thoughts with The New York Times, stating, “I said, ‘[Apple is] making it more accessible, but it’s not a true right to repair if you have ultimate control.'”
One specific point of concern for the state legislator is Apple’s reliance on proprietary parts. We have reached out to both Apple and Senator Sollman for further comment on this issue.
According to a November report from The New York Times, replacement batteries, screens, and selfie cameras can all cause issues with an iPhone if they are not original Apple parts. This is due to Apple’s practice of creating software that gives the company control over the device even after it has been sold. Unlike cars, which can be repaired with generic parts by auto shops and DIY mechanics, iPhones are coded to recognize specific serial numbers and may malfunction if non-Apple parts are used.
The report also referenced data from iFixit, showing that seven different parts can trigger Apple’s warning system during repairs – an increase from four since 2017. Apple has justified their use of first-party parts by citing security and consumer ease of use. In contrast, other companies like Google and Samsung have formed partnerships with third-party solutions, such as iFixit’s DIY repair option for Pixel devices.
Interestingly, Google’s statement focuses heavily on customer access. Nickel writes, “Repair must be easy enough for anyone to do, whether they are technicians or do-it-yourselfers.” He goes on to explain that this requires manufacturers to design products with serviceability in mind, allowing for simple, safe, and correct repairs to be done by anyone. This concept is what Google calls “design for serviceability.”
This news from Google comes shortly after the company confirmed layoffs and restructuring within their Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit divisions. While this may cause uncertainty for some, Google’s strong support for the right to repair movement shows their commitment to giving customers more control over their devices.