A friend of mine in Ohio “had an uninvited and unwelcome visitor in my bathtub last night: my Kindle! I always knew this day would come. Fortunately I reacted with the swiftness of a Kyrie Irving and retrieved it immediately. It seemed okay, just wet, so it sat in a bowl of rice all night just to make sure. We’ll see how it fares this week.”

The same could well have happened to iPhones or countless other devices.

Let’s hope that Flo’s Kindle rescue succeeds. But what if it doesn’t? I don’t know about the situation with Amazon, but Apple makes it difficult for thrifty DIYers as well as third-party repair services.

Wouldn’t it be great if laws existed to guarantee easy access to repair parts and information needed to get your e-reading device or other gizmo working again?

In fact, the Huffington Post reports that “Four states—Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and New York—have considered adopting ‘right to repair’ amendments, which would update existing laws regarding the sale of electronic equipment. Amending these laws would make it easier to fix your devices and would help reduce ‘e-waste,’ a catch-all term for any electronic detritus.”

But Apple has been fighting hard against such legislation, according to HuffPo and other publications. New York is the latest battleground. Perhaps thanks to our corrupt political system, Apple has succeed in dulling legislators’ interest in this much-needed measure.

“Apple in particular has been really vocal about how environmentally friendly they are, but then, behind the scenes, they’re subverting every possible technique that people could have to make their products last longer,” the Washington Post quotes Kyle Wiens, founder of the iFixit site.

The Post notes that “Apple removed the iFixit app, created by Wiens’s repair community/company, from the app store last year when iFixit posted instructions on how to tear down the Apple TV.”

Furthermore, until a lawsuit and negative stories showed up, Apple bricked iPhone 6s with home-button assemblies replaced by users or third-party services.

Details: I’ve told my Ohio friend about the waterproof Kindle cases available on Amazon. Meanwhile here are other water-damage tips for e-reader, tablet and phone owners. Also see Chris Meadows’s post on the DIY repair issue.

Related: Apple Withholds Support for GOP Convention Because of Donald Trump, in HuffPo. That’s the good Apple at work


  1. Water damage probably won’t be an issue much longer. There’s some technologies coming along that should take care of that without heavy MilSpec cases resembling my Otterbox. The downside is that they might complicate repairing even further. Waterproofing is likely because it’s one of the few areas where smartphones can be improved, and improvements sell new models.

    I’ve lobbied Apple to activate the existing FM-radio component in their WiFi chip and perhaps work with Broadcom to add digital TV to iPhones and iPads. That’d be useful in disasters when cellular systems go down. But while such measures would be cheap and add little to the cost of a device (even Amazon’s Kindle ereaders), they do have a downside. Space limitations mean reception will be poor. When people lose cellular service, they blame the cell company. When they only get spotty FM reception, they may blame Apple.
    To understand the culture of any nation, group, organization, or business, you need to understand its history. The Big Three automakers and UAW still clash because of Taylorism, a brutal ‘scientific management’ practice used in auto factories a century ago. Lacking that history, the Asian automatkers who’ve established factories in the U.S. since the 1970s, have far fewer management/worker tensions.

    Much of the weirdness of Apple’s product line is rooted in the mid-1990s, when it looked like the company would go under as most of the market concluded that Windows and PC hardware were good enough even though they lacked the finesse or easy setup of Apple’s closed garden.

    Apple was left with two customer groups. One were the ‘creatives’ who become Mac users in the 1980s when only Macs had the hardware and software to do what they needed to do. They’ve been ignoring that group for ever so long.

    The other can’t be described in anything other than derogative terms. Imagine you’re driving down the highway and see a car parked by the road. A tire is flat, the trunk is open, and the spare is out, but the driver is clearly totally lost. He has no idea how to change a tire. Apple’s other customer-base were those sorts of people. The Windows/PC world was too complicated for them, particularly as home users lacking IT support. They went for Macs because they were plug-and-play and ‘just worked.’ They didn’t know how to upgrade or repair, so that mattered not to them. I sometimes call them the Eloi, after the helpless people of the far-distant future in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine.

    They were the ones who were keeping Apple alive when Steve Jobs came back. The one downside to Apple’s product line was that it was a mess, with all sorts of computers that differed only a little from one another. That confused these easily confused people even more, so Jobs sensibly created four basic products: pro and consumer/desktop and laptop. The marketing stress was on a colorful gumdrop iMac whose all-in-one design meant the Eloi did not even have to attach a display.

    Move forward twenty years and what do you find in Apple’s Mac line? Increasingly, it’s unrepairable, un-upgradable products of limited versatility for those Eloi. Look what Apple does not have. Component desktops are the bestselling computers in the business world. My 2012 Mac mini was Apple’s last, rather pitiful attempt to offer a product for that market. The current Mac mini doesn’t even do that. It’s little more than an entertainment center. Their alleged high-end Mac Pro is an equal disappointment. It’s too expensive, not that powerful, and rarely upgraded. Apple’s obsession with SSDs, is also making its laptops less useful for professionals, who need to storage only a hard drive can offer. Apple’s attempts to divert them into using iCloud won’t wash with pros. iCloud’s unreliablity may be tolerable for those who just want entertainment. It isn’t for creative pros who can’t tolerate any downtime.

    I could go on, but my point is made. In the mid-1990s to survive Apple had to focus on clueless consumers. You send that endlessly repeated in their advertising. I joke that Apple’s are marketed to perpetual children who dance around and obsess over thinness like an anoxeric high school girl. That’s almost true.

    But Apple is making matters worse. Increasingly, they’re attributing their success to that once-necessary focus. Their product line is getting narrower and narrower from the perspective of professional users. Apple, despite its large market share, literally has no desktop that most business want to buy. Their iMacs, while pretty, are a poor investment. And as a result, Apple’s marketshare is starting to slip for much the same reason it did in the 1990s. Back then, the issue was a graphics-user interface. Once Microsoft had a good enough one, there was no reason to buy a Mac.

    Currently, Apple thinks it’s success since 2000 is due to what it’s done. In the desktop/laptop market that’s not true. Apple benefited as much by Microsofts blunders as by it’s only achievements. Windows XP hung on for years because Microsoft’s new versions weren’t seen as that attractive. That’s changing. Now Windows is good enough, people seen no reason to put up with the woefully limited hardware of the macOS world. And in the near future, Apple’s other advantage, their iPhone to Mac ecosystem, is going to weakened. Google/Android/Samsung aren’t stupid. They’ll keep improving their ecosystem.

    How do you fail as a business? Keep moving in the direction you’ve been moving. That’s Apple’s current mistake and it is a big one.

  2. If the Huff Post wanted to treat this important topic objectively, they’d consult with a wider array of experts than they did. Wine’s livelihood from iFixIt is adversely affected by Apple’s never-ending quest to fit more and more stuff into smaller and smaller devices.
    The key question to ask is whether consumer interest in such things is sufficient to sustain firms that would produce them. Surely an Android phone that is fully user serviceable could be built or perhaps exists already. The assertion that consumers would buy them needs to be tested.

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