Applpe Control freakery....
... at its best!
Apple is designing its own, entirely proprietary screw-head in a bid to prevent punters and repair shops getting inside its future iDevices. At least, it is if - and it's a very big 'if' - you take a piccy posted on the interweb at face value. Captioned "a friend took a photo a while ago at that fruit company, they are …
O M G !
If there's anything at all real about it, then the world as we know it will come to an end in a short time:
United States Patent application # 159357789123
Apple, Inc. 1,Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California
A device for the reversible connection of otherwise separate parts of various appliances or their subcomponents comprising of a cylindrical, spirally structured body with a wider, likewise cylindrical but perpendicularly embossed appendage of lesser length on one end.
We're iScrew® ed.
If you're a person who spends all his time creating facetious crap about Apple, then you probably think that's as good a shape as any for a screw thread. Never mind that 200+ years of industrial technology has other ideas - this is Apple and they redefine everything.
Plus, this thread has rounded corners :o)
"That doesn't actually look like a thread." I thought that, but my conclusion was that, because the head is so tiny and doesn't look very grippy, they've had to design the thread with the intention of smooth (low pressure) turning and possible use of lube.
I wonder if whoever had this plan has heard of moulds.
That thread cannot be made with the traditional manufacturing methods (OK, AFAIK, but even the body and thread colours differ which suggests it's made up).
In addition, if this is at the size the normal Apple screws are the tooling would be a complete pain in production - there is nothing to centre the screw (no tapering or lead-in at the end of the thread nor any guide for the drive toolis), which would would make a mess in the sort of mass production volume Apple works at.
In addition, a drive tool with such small detail would have issues with material strength.
So, IMHO much ado about a fake..
Well . . .
The iScrew®'s body will be made from anodized aluminium, and the thread is made from pre-formed austenitic stainless steel, laser-welded onto the body afterwards. The head of the screw looks different from the main body due to high-vacuum electrostatic powder coating with titanium-embedded diamond dust. This is to ensure not only a precise fit and enhanced torque distribution for the iScrew® driver, it also fits in better with the sophistication of the whole device.
Centering of the screw is a secondary, if at all, problem, since the screw will be fitted into the device by Mr. On Lo Wage at Foxconn; if he doesn't cope with the precision, there's plenty of others queueing up to do his job.
And the additional price of an extra $80 (€85, £120) for the use of these screws will be eagerly paid by the customers; it again shows that the product they purchased is of a better quality and they can distinguish themselves from the ordinary phone user and from the old-fashioned iPhone4S users who don't have the new iScrew®.
There, all explained.
If the intent was to discourage hackers, this looks like a marginally practical fastener that will be easily mold-mastered into a substitute screw-head. Hackers are notoriously good at this.
The screws DO look expensive-to-make, which can cause quality issues when the cost-press comes by.
It looks like a less-than-50%-likely rumor...
Yes, a set of small tough flat screwdrivers will undo most 'security' screws I have encountered.
And it would be easy enough to 3D-scan the screw head, invert it and fab the needed driver-head in any modestly equipped modern university materials-engineering lab or equivalent private factory with a small 3D printer capable of printing metals (they have more than one of those in the building across the road from me).
Assuming it's genuine:
Yeah, that'll stop those places that knock out $2 security-bit packs in their tracks. For about a week. And anyone who wants to "DIY" anyway would just drill into the screw with a screw-removing drill. Hell, there'll be packets of those things on eBay before the device is even released do you could just drill them out and then reinsert new ones. And, let's not forget, you have to send multiple sets of those screwdrivers to EVERY APPLE STORE in the WORLD. Yeah. Not one of those will go missing, or get cloned.
And even if not - let's assume that people *can't* take their iPhone to one of those "screen repair" places that have cropped up everywhere. You just quadrupled the running cost of an iPhone over its lifetime. I'm not saying that would kill the device, but it will surely affect sales. Hmm, an iPhone that I can have repaired for £200, or an Android phone that's about the same that I can have repaired for £20? Anyone who's broken their phone in the past will realise that it's actually just not worth the cost. Anyone who hasn't might get it repaired once but when it breaks again they will question a) Apple's sturdiness, b) Apple's repair costs.
But still, the BMW crowd will love it. It means another trip to the manufacturers any time ANYTHING goes wrong, or voiding their warranty entirely.
Last time I watched someone repairing a BMW, the OBD flashed up that it had detected an unofficial tyre. To clear it, they had to buy a specific BMW -> OBD convertor cable that cost more than the tyre, or pay a garage the same amount (who said that the high price was justified by the price of the BMW kit needed to do the job).
It's probably *not* all models and their drivers, just all the models and their drivers I've ever come across and heard repair horror stories from.
BMW uses runflat tyres. This is a special kind of tyre that can run even when punctured, due to stronger sidewalls.
On the plus side, runflats are safer. And there is no need to carry a spare.
On the minus side, they are harder and heavier, not to mention more expensive. Non-sprung weight of a vehicle is very important, because it directly affects the handling and the "feel" of the car. And a hard tyre makes suspension harder, so you need to design better suspension.
Using runflat tyres also requires the car to be able "read" the pressure and warn the driver if needed - it is not visually apparent like regular tyres.
Other manufacturers also use these, but I can't make a list offhand. Anyway, there isn't an "official" tyre for BMW, but there is a special kind you have to use.
On a related note, Porsche does have official tyres - of I should say special Porsche versions of some tyres you have to use not to void your warranty.
I'd wager it was the wheel and they had to reprogram the TPMS. Then again, all new cars have this and not just BMWs, in the US at least. That said, it really is a bug up my backside that the equipment to reprogram the car to a new sensor is so expensive. The only good thing is I don't figure it will be long before the codes are cracked for most cars and some open source kit starts popping up. It really is something that shouldn't be much harder than setting the presets on the radio since it really is just setting the presets on the TPMS radio. While they are at it, put a "yes, I know" button that lets you turn off the light when you start the car after changing the flat.
A Canadian Robertson (square) screwdriver fit perfectly.
Security screws are only useful to keep Joe Blow from messing with stuff. I bought a high quality set of screw driver bits for every version I have ever seen and some that I have not (three sided with a pin in the middle?) for $15 at the local tool shop.
Yes it frickin well does matter when Apple have shitty warranties and refuse to repair devices for realistic prices. (no, I'm not paying even more for AppleCare, I paid a premium for the device, I EXPECT it to be built well)
My iPhone 4 home button gradually died (common problem), after 20 months into a 2 year contract, Apple didn't want to know and wanted to charge me £130 for a replacement refurb'd iPhone. Only alternative was a back-street fixit guy who replaced it for £17 and it's worked ever since.
My iMac's Seagate hard drive died after a similar amount of time, do Apple care? Noooo, Apple want £200+ to put in a new 1TB drive. That's a 300% mark up on the price of 1TB 3.5" internal SATA drives. Because they changed the firmware on the drive it's hard to do independently without incurring the case fans spinning up.
So YES, it does matter. Enough of this proprietary bullshit. Someone lend me a Galaxy S3 please, cos iPhone 5 is looking less likely by the day, it wouldn't take much to convince me...
You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks.
You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing? Try asking Ferrari to fix your engine for nothing that's worn away outside the warranty. They'll just scream with laughter at you. You probably deserve it as well as your face after that rant is probably red raw with your head about to explode. :)
Aha, now I don't know about this two-year EU warranty business, whether it's percolated over to blighty yet, where we almost always have far longer and more powerful implied protection from the Sale of Goods Act, than anything written down on a 'warranty' agreement. Written warranties are gratuitous promises, for a far shorter period than you're entitled legally (and *enforceably*) to have the product last, and tend to be used by retailers as 'exclusion' clauses, i.e. "your warranty's run out, we can't help you...". The law says they, the retailer, very, very often must pay up for repair, replacement, or part-refund.
SOGA forms an unavoidable implicit clause in your contract, that your goods must be of reasonable durability considering all factors including the cost. You may not be entitled to the remedy of your choice (e.g. repair or replacement) but often a refund less a deduction for usage based on the reasonable expected lifetime of the product bearing in mind its cost. Top-end Apple laptop? 4 or 5 years, easy.
Top-end Apple laptop? 4 or 5 years, easy.
Umm, I don't think so - it depends which part fails. Batteries, for instance, are known for a short life (that's why you can never get them under extended warranty), and hard disks run AFAIK a close second.
Having said that, I tend to have a machine cycle time of about 2..3 years so I never get the extended warranty - also because I tend to take good care of my machines. It makes sure it keeps running reliably (in my experience, if electronics fails it tends to do in the first 3 months), it makes it easier to resell, and it's in general much nicer to work with a good looking machine..
"You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks."
£130 to replace an iPhone without AppleCare ... or ...
£61 for AppleCare ... or ...
£17 to the back-street guy to fix it.
Unless my understanding of mathematics is somewhat out of kilter, £17 is considerably less than £61! Now who's failed?!
> You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing?
No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium.
You don't expect Ferrari to weld the bonnet shut so that you can't take it to your local mechanic. You don't expect them to make a proprietary lock for the oil and radiator caps so you can't change the oil or top it up yourself.
I'm sure the new iphone and imacs are great, but Apple are making it all too hard. I loved Apple ][, Mackintosh, OSX and Mac. They've done a good job of bringing "pretty" and "useful" to the consumer, but the rest of the world has caught up and they are resorting to making life difficult rather than making life better, to keep their income up.
@P.Lee - "No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."
This holds true if the premium being paid is for quality/durability. I don't think that is where the premium goes on Apple products. Instead it goes on design, marketing (selling you a lifestyle) and being a status symbol. It's the same reason (say) Gucci sunglasses cost way more than most other brands, despite the fact they do they exact same job and the other brands may be more durable/better made.
And it's the exact same with Ferrari - if you want durability, buy a Ford, Honda or Toyota. If you want a status symbol, buy the Ferrari.
"No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."
Because, of course, Apple have access to Foxconn's magical, revolutionary new Zero Failures factory in Narnia.
I think you'll find that the equally expensive rival phones from, say, Samsung ("We let someone else do the R&D, so we don't have to") and their ilk are just as prone to the occasional failure.
As another poster pointed out, if your iPhone was bought in the EU, your warranty lasts 24 months. By law. There is no get-out clause Apple can use to get around that. (And, yes, that law applies in the UK as well, despite what many of the more ignorant, minimum-wage shelf-stackers at PC World may believe.)
But... you got it fixed for £17! Clearly the iPhone isn't all that hard to fix for someone with the right tools and knowledge! So what the hell is your problem? Who the hell takes their car to an expensive "official" repair centre (that is obliged to only ever use original parts!) when it's outside the warranty period? Even VW owners know better than that.
One very good reason for using weird screws and tricky manufacturing techniques is precisely so that they don't get loads of ignorant tinkerers trying to convince them their phone "just broke! Honest!" after they'd tried to pry it open and have a look inside for the sake of satiating their curiosity.
People who want to make money from repairing such products can still buy the necessary tools—as others have pointed out, it's not going to take long for a Chinese manufacturer to come up with a screwdriver head that matches this, or any other, design. Such people will likely include the chap who fixed your iPhone for less than twenty quid.
Short of completely sealing each unit and making it effectively disposable, there's not much Apple can do to prevent such repair operations. And I doubt very much that they want to go down that path as they have to abide by WEEE regulations, so repairing and recycling their products is part of their corporate duty.
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You know how small 0.5mm is, right?
Of course if you really think half a millimetre is too big a groove, you could go for anything down to 0.01mm. That's a hundredth of a millimetre in plain english. In the words of the site, "as fine as the antenna of an aphid".
Still a problem?
Do you hear me El-Reg; stop licking the arse of the fruit or actually setup a subsite (regapple.co.uk/.com which is available!) to dump all these crap stories. They'll never respond for comment either, ever!
Can see the pill is getting harder to swallow from the fruit based writers on El-Reg.
Plus the fact that that section* of Apple's customer base that actually deserve the appellation "iPhanboi" are so wonderfully easy to wind up. -:)
*Note that I am not tarring all Apple customers with the same brush, that in itself would be "fanboi" behaviour.
"that in itself would be "fanboi" behaviour."
Note that you can no longer use the term "fanboi".
Since Applytes copied the idea of using "fan" at the start of a word as a derogatory term to describe users of alternative platforms - specifically "fandroid" - it has officially become an Applyte innovation to do so. Using the term "fanboi" is therefore copying them, even though they weren't first to do use "fan" as a prefix.
This is why I now call them Applytes (Apple Accolytes).
...there are two points to not.
1) Head. Sure, a small flat-head might do it, but all they would have to do is re-jig a few of the spokes or make the design more curved to solve that. It also looks rather shallow, so not much purchase.
2) Thread. It does not look like a convention screw, much more rounded. This means that is the screw were drilled-out it would be hard to replace as normal screws probably won't work/hold with that thread shape.
Ah - but what about the fakes/pattern parts. Simple. Patent and copyright that design, then sue that arse out of anyone who is selling them to non-Apple bods. Apple is highly, highly litigious; so this is probably the path they'd choose.
If I was renting and iDevice, I wouldn't really care. If I rent a TV, fixing it is not my problem. But if I buy an iDevice then is in mine and I can do what I want with it. Or I should be able to.
Time for the regulators/consumer protection bodies to have a word with apple.
If this is true of course.
That patent / copyright technique probably fails, for the same reason that anyone is allowed to make 3rd-party car exhausts that are (on the outside) exactly the same shape as the manufacturer's registered design. It's allowed, because no other shape is possible: if it were a different shape it would not fit the car.
IANAL, but any other shape of screwdriver head would not fit the screw. As for patents, it would be hard to think up anything that could be patented about a driver shaped to fit a socket, although I suppose a company that thinks it can patent a rectangle with rounded-off corners might try.
In passing if Apple really wanted tamper-proof screws they could choose one of several designs already on the market, that engage an appropriate screwdriver when twisted clockwise but which cam out when twisted anti-clockwise. However, as someone comments above, a Dremmel tool will convert any screw into one that can be twisted with a flat bladed screwdriver. Far more tamper-proof are plastic cases that snap together and require mechanical contrivances with fifteen thumbs to un-snap them (or which can't be un-snapped at all, short of breaking them).
Ford did try to patent the bolt pattern for their wheels and said they had to do it because some after market wheels were unsafe. Failed.
Even if Apple got a design patent (I expect they could given how things seem to work now) you would only need to use about 3 or 4 of the slots for a screw driver to work.
@Nigel 11 - "That patent / copyright technique probably fails, for the same reason that anyone is allowed to make 3rd-party car exhausts that are (on the outside) exactly the same shape as the manufacturer's registered design. It's allowed, because no other shape is possible: if it were a different shape it would not fit the car."
It would be nice if such logic and common sense were applied to the world of IT. Unfortunately....
As part of a wider directive on field-maintainability of consumer electronic goods, I would require that manufacturers using non-standard screw heads must either supply a compatible screwdriver with the appliance, or else make such a tool generally available for mail order at a fair price.
We all love car/PC analogies, so here goes!
IMHO they should apply similar tests to cars, nothing it more annoying than being stranded because you need a garage to do what should be a simple job.
"Req 1: The driver must be able to change any bulb within 5 minutes. Only tools forming part of the standard toolkit may be used."
And so on.
For PCs/Laptops? How about something along these lines:
"Req 1: The owner must be able to replace the battery using standard, off-shelf tools within 10 minutes."
"Req 2: The owner must be able to replace the HDD with a standard driver within 10 minutes."
"Req 3: The owner must be able to upgrade/replace RAM within 5 minutes."
And then the kicker
"Owner repairs will not void any manufacturer warranty unless the manufacturer can prove that the owner acted below the level of a 'competent person'."
Or something along those lines at any rate. (Pretty much how it is with cars really)
A Dyson vacuum cleaner is expensive, but I can strip that myself to get at the offending part and replace it. No need for a repair engineer or anything.
Law? There are circumstances where it is widely desirable for there to be rare (if not proprietary) screw heads. Those star-bolts on Ford vehicles, for example. Your mechanic will have plenty, you can buy them cheaply if you want to repair at home- but they prevent idle thumbs from tinkering with essential parts of the vehicle. In consumer electronics, it is desirable to prevent curious children from taking apart items that contain high voltages- or are expensive.
I was in the pub the other evening, and one builder was asking another if he had a tool for a type of security fencing he was erecting. He had buckets of the fasteners, but not the 'hollow star' driver he required for them.
The other reason for strange heads is mechanical - it limits the amount of force that can be applied. Take a Pozi-drive screw- it will slip against the driver (or against the adjustable clutch in your power-driver) before it rips itself out of the material it is being screwed into, or damaging the head or driver bit too much. 'Allen' keys (hex) allow vastly more torque to be applied, so are generally reserved for fixing into a pre-tapped metal thread. The standard length of the Allen key gives a rough clue as to how much torque to apply with stripping the thread.
'not the 'hollow star' driver he required for them'
Torx sockets then. Man I was annoyed when I first came across those (on the differential of a BMW). Hadn't come across them before, so didn't have any. Easy enough to pick up, but had the car been mine I would have had to put it back together to drive and get them!
IF <-(Big if) the Fruit making company want to keep the proles out of their electronics, I would expect them to go down the ultrasonic welding path. Permanently seal the device closed so the only way to reopen it would be to destroy it. Easy for the Apple shop to fix faulty hardware, by getting a new iDevice off the shelf and given that to the customer. The only problem is the environmental factor - unless they provide a 'cut-here' template to EOL recyclers, their green credentials could take a further hit.
Don't confuse the device with the case/box/shell. If welded, a market would spring up to provide boutique versions of the same shells, with either snaps at the edges, or judiciously-placed magnets, or ... to keep things in place.
On control freakery: the issue is that someone else wants to be a control freak, too.
IBM used roundhead screws (no slots, holes or aything else) on the power supplies (some were slightly ovoid, others used a breakaway screw head)
It didn't take long to get past those either.
In the worst case, cut a slot with a dremel, extract srew, throw away and replace with something serviceable.
Assuming you don't care for the warranty, obviously.
The thread would work, but it would have to be going into some sort of insert, and that would push up the manufacturing cost.
I also have my doubts about the head design. Reliable assembly sets some limits on the head design. It's not good if assembly damages the screw heads.
This design doesn't make sense.
A set of flat-blade jeweller's screwdrivers and a small pair of pliers for extra force... I've broken a few blades in my time, but I've yet to find a screw that defeated me. I say ditto to this one here. The asymmetry is irrelevant so long as you can get a blade between any two of the 'teeth'.
Perhaps Apple should consider the type of screw that can be screwed up without problem, but has 45 degree edges to the other side so cannot be so easily unscrewed...
I had a Mac SE for a while that I wanted to dismantle (IIRC so I could get the floppy drive out). The back was held on with a deeply recessed star shaped screw to stop people getting inside of it including myself since I gave up.
Aside from some of their workstations Apple just don't like people getting inside their computers or devices. They have constantly attempted to lock them down so you need a special tool or even a jig to open them.
And the reason for this is simple. If someone can't change the battery in their device it means they're more inclined to buy a replacement or at least pay Apple a lot of money to service it. It's a racket pure and simple.
.... too see that apple have abandoned the i-everything pattern with this revolutionary u-screwed device.
persnly i think
a> this aint news apple/compac - hell even amstrad indulge(/d) in this malarky all the time.
when apple want to keep people out.. .then they just glue the whole tihng together, works fine, just so long as it's not a screen they are gluing :D
.. that any such screwdrivers (*) will come in those blister packs that seem to be designed to withstand a nuclear war.
When I bought a pair of scissors to open such packs, it too came in a blister pack (**)
(*) no, I'm not buying it - to me, that picture yells "fake" in a number of ways
(**) I'm kidding - you can actually easily open such a pack by using a regular can opener. It's also safer.
It aint a screw. It's clever. I think the rings need to retract into the body when the right tool's used.
Assuming it's not a fake....
I thought at first a couple of pairs of stout tweezers would shift it, but doubt it.
I'm guessing the head has to be removed by one tool, then a SECOND tool needs to be used to retract the rings.
I'll also bet the grey paint on the top isn't particulary scratch-resistant, so as to reveal attempted tampering.
Nasty. Any bomb-disposal experts in the commentard section?
This is obviously completely true and just ties in with what I heard about special shaped electrons being used in the batteries.
Non-Apple chargers can't produce the notched electrons required so if you do charge with third party device the battery could explode due to the seventeen million electrons required (obviously counted by the charger - depending on model) not fitting.
Let me tell you an electron explosion is not something you want in your living room.
How many reasons are required... or does the list constantly change. I find it funny how everyone always says ONE MORE REASON not to own something... Apparently they don't necessarily kill cows and pigs in a humane way... doesn't mean I won't pick up beef or pork if its on sale. If you won some iProduct in a contest and you really don't want it I'll take it off your hands... if I don't like it then I can sell it.
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