Google has short life cycles...
..but Apple is clearly killing it right now.
Apple in January sued the Canadian arm of Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) for allegedly reselling roughly 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches that were supposed to be broken up and recycled. The lawsuit, first reported last week by The Logic, a paywalled Canadian tech publication, reportedly prompted a …
"would rather shred stuff than let it hit the used market."
Not only Apple ...
Many years ago but eons in IT time, I was needing to populate a workstation I was building. Wanted to fit SCSIU160 but the new 18Gb drives out there were really expensive.
Then I came across a chap on the local version of fleabay who had put up for sale a lot of eight IBM 9.1Gb SCSIU160 for roughly the price of one of the 18Gb drives I wanted.
I haggled and finally got them for half his asking price, learning that they had been pulled from IBM machines destined to be "cut up with acetylene" as they were, with a total destruction clause being part of the sale agreement with the previous owner, presumably a local IBM office.
Turns out that just one of those eight drives had a couple of grown defects, the rest passed IBM's own HDD tests without issues and went on to work for almost five years in the successive incarnations of my workstation till I built a new box with SAS drives.
I sold the only one I never got to use to an outfit that needed that specific type of drive for an old model of a MRI machine or some medical equipment.
I still have the neodymium magnets recovered from the drives that eventually went south or were put to rest. 8^D
Depending on the history of those drives, the total destruction contract might have been more relevant. If they previously held sensitive information, the destruction could have been to eliminate that rather than to push demand for newer disks. I would be very angry if I gave disks to someone for destruction but they didn't do it. Then again, such concerns shouldn't apply to Apple devices since the internal storage is flash and encrypted with a separate location for key storage, so an erase should be nearly impossible to recover from.
Most phone and PC manufacturers offer used, factory certified or even reconditioned, devices for sale. Apple could do the same, especially on trade-ins, but they would rather sell only new devices to iPeople. It's certainly environmentally irresponsible and it reinforces the attitude that Apple is for haves, not have nots.
It's their right but it doesn't make it right.
Do Apple *really* sell refurbished stuff? If you buy anything directly from Apple you have two weeks to return it, no questions asked whatsoever, even if you decide that macOS isn’t really for you. They’re quite generous in this respect. Here’s the rub: everything that gets returned and can be re-sold ends up in the refurbished channel. I suspect in many cases that amounts to little more than plugging a test gadget into the diagnostic port and giving it a buff with a cloth.
Apple does indeed have refurbished devices for sale. Complete with warranty, and "as new". I assume they sort devices they get back into two categories, "can be refurbished", and "can't be refurbished". The ones that can be refurbished they refurbish and sell, or use as replacements for broken devices. Would you want to buy one that they classified as "can't be refurbished"?
I suspect most of the problems deal with SUPPORT rather than "screwing the little guy".
Most likely they also want to justify the higher prices by preventing demand for used equipment.
It's almost like what Disney does with their DVDs (etc.). Only release for a short time so they do NOT end up in the bargain bins at $3 each. Then don't release again for another decade.
Without knowing what models were supposed to be recycled and what condition they were in we can't be sure whether criticism is warranted.
If they were something really old that's no longer supported by software updates and many apps, people would have been buying something they'd have trouble using.
If they had some issues like non working cellular or wifi, I'm sure the guys who were reselling them would be happy to take some sucker's money and claim "they were sold without warranty, sorry!" if the buyer complained. If they were sold as "Apple refurbished" when they weren't, then it is Apple who looks bad, not the reseller.
"Apple, he said, doesn't want a secondary market for its devices because it's something the tech goliath can't control."
Oh boo the hoo. There's a lot of shit in this world Apple can't control. Tough titty. Get over it Apple.
Just because they made it, it doesn't mean it's still theirs once they've sold it. Jeez. Let people do wtf they want to do with their shit and stop meddling. Control freaks.
"Yet the phones in question *did* belong to Apple"
not sure: if Apple handed them to the recycling firm, then the recycling firm owned them. That's the entire point of a recycling firm: they dismount the stuff and resell the components. How they do this is their business. If a stuff is dismounted, it seizes to exist, therefore how could Apple own something that doesn't exist anymore ? At what point does Apple stop owning an iWatch set to be recycled ?
Therefore it's a breach of contract, but if a contract goes against a law (right to repair) then the contract is invalid and Apple hasn't a foot to stand on. For example, you couldn't make a contract about slavery because that's against the law: therefore you could sign and breach any slavery contract as you wish.
> if Apple handed them to the recycling firm, then the recycling firm owned them.
No, Apple paid the firm for a service.
>If a stuff is dismounted, it seizes to exist, therefore how could Apple own something that doesn't exist anymore ?
Same way that a demolished building is still a very real pile of rubble, useful stone and dangerous asbestos - it's still very real stuff that has to be disposed of responsibly.
Or a written-off car is a very real lump of scrap metal and possibly useful parts - that belong to your insurance company.
> if a contract goes against a law (right to repair) then the contract is invalid
Eh? Any right to repair only applies to stuff that you own.
"not sure: if Apple handed them to the recycling firm, then the recycling firm owned them. That's the entire point of a recycling firm: they dismount the stuff and resell the components. "
Not at all. There was a TV program about a bunch of chancers whose job it was to destroy bank notes that were taken out of circulation, so they looked for the best ones and kept them. I think they went to jail. Same here, Apple didn't sell them to the recycling firm, but both sides signed a contract that the recycling firm would recycle the devices.
"not sure: if Apple handed them to the recycling firm, then the recycling firm owned them."
Almost certainly not. Apple could have done it two ways:
1. "Here are some phones we don't want. You can buy them and obtain value from them. You have to be environmentally-focused if you get rid of parts." Results in the recycling firm owning the devices.
2. "Here are some phones we don't want. We want them recycled, you recycle, so we'll pay you to recycle them." Apple still own the devices.
I think Apple chose option 2, in which case they are paying the company to do something with the things Apple owns. Since the recycling company didn't own them, they can't cancel the contract on right-to-repair because the devices are not theirs to repair.
I would prefer that the devices get reused when possible, but it's helpful to recognize what legal rights Apple has in this situation if only to suggest ways to make it less likely to happen next time.
These phones would have been traded in for a new device therefore Apple own them.
Now it is up to the consumer if they want to either wipe and resell their old phone using eBay or similar. Or just trade it in direct with Apple.
A lot of companies offer the same service especially in Europe with the WEEE regulations.
If I was doing this then I would make a judgement on the condition of the device and decide which was easier to do.
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That's a tall tale as well, they use Hollywood accounting to calculate how much they make or lose on their repairs.
When every sale pushes Apple Care and every repair is "the motherboard is broken" or "the screen is broken" or "the motherboard and screen are broken" then it's pure profit.
Rightly Britain and other countries cannot dictate to a foreign company from an alien country; fair enough.
What they should do therefore is ban that company's imports from entering if they don't conform to safety and sustainability goals. After all, we can ban ill-made products from China. And how come Apple's products are so badly made they end up in dumps by the 100,000 ?
All Apple's whining cannot disguise their anti-environmental greed in favour of profit.
> And how come Apple's products are so badly made they end up in dumps by the 100,000 ?
The lawsuit mentions half a million phones during 2015 to 2017, in which Apple sold around 300 million iPhones world-wide (though perhaps I should be taking figures for the immediately preceding years). So, that's roughly one in a thousand. However, many of those phones will have been damaged by dropping or by water damage, not faults of manufacturing. Conversely, the dismantling centre in question likely isn't the only one Apple was using.
Tl;dr: your figures alone don't support Apple phones as being any more poorly made than any other brand of phone. You need more data and context before asserting that claim.
The article states that the company concerned also operated in the United States at the time, to say nothing of the possibility that phones were shipped to the Canadian recycling facility to take advantage of a good recycling rate or cheap electrical power. We really don't know how many devices were recycled by Apple at all, given that we don't know how many companies they use to recycle for them.
You are trying to prove that Apple's devices are unusually bad, which is going to require extra levels of proof. Their repairability scores aren't great, but their competitors' aren't either. If you want to ban Apple devices for sustainability problems, which they have, you should also prepare for most competitors to be banned as well. Only a few phones I know of are easy to repair, including the Fairphone, PinePhone, etc. so you might be left with only those.
"You are trying to prove that Apple's devices are unusually bad"
No, that's not what he is saying, he is making a demonstration ad-absurdum: IF we accept Apple's arguments, THEN the iThings are badly manufactured. Therefore, either Apple's arguments are worthless and the complaint should be dropped, or Apple's iDevices are so badly manufactured that they should be banned.
Either way, destroying working devices by millions is a waste of natural resources and should be forbidden.
> ban that company's imports from entering if they don't conform to safety and sustainability goals.
That would of course include phone vendors who don't send out software updates after a couple of years, then.
Sustainability goals also dictate the ease of recycling once the phone is beyond economic repair (either because it damaged, or because the hardware is so out if date that it can't reasonably do what users expect if it). Eventually, 100% of phones sold need to be recycled economically. Not every phone sold needs to be repaired. The use of glue rather than screws makes dismantling easier to do in bulk.
Dan 55's link is actually to a Guardian article that doesn't mention Apple, but is focused on electronic waste being sent to developing nations under false pretences of reuse, when in fact they are to be dismantled (often dangerously in the case of CRT televisions and fridges, and environmentally damaging).
So having phones responsibly recycled by a Canadian company would, on paper, appear to be the much better approach.
... that these devices were traded in to Apple in exchange for newer models. As such, they are the property of Apple and they are free to do with them as they want. Rogue employees from GEEP (the recycler) diverted units that were still technically Apple's to the used market. So it seems that they have grounds for a lawsuit.
Is it good corporate citizenship to block re-use? Probably not. But then that should be on the original customer to decide when they trade in their iJunk. You have a choice: Trade it with Apple for a discount on a new Shiny Thing. Or sell/donate it to a recycler with an established reputation for repair and reuse. You might not get a credit but you'll have that nice, warm feeling that you've done the Right Thing.
I suspect this is both an attempt to limit the market for second hand iPhones, with the hope people will buy new iPhones instead, but just as importantly, an attempt to prevent 3rd party repair shops from taking these apart to get repair parts. Louis Rossmann had an interesting video on a fairly simple and cheap repair to replace a component on a laptop motherboard, but Apple wouldn't sell the part to third party repair shops, only the complete motherboard, at a price which exceeded the value of the laptop. Since Apple itself would also only replace the whole motherboard, it was another good way to get people to buy new, rather than repair.
It's worse than that; the chip fab that makes the power control IC in question is contractually obliged to only sell that specific IC to apple and no one else, which is where that came from.
The repair itself is simple enough if you know how to get to the part in question and can do surface mount rework properly. the problem is getting what is likely a $10-15 USD part. :(
If I take my phone to the recycling centre, I don't have any say in what they do with it. In fact, if it's good enough to sell on and they do that then they've done their job, they've recycled it spending no energy breaking it down and generating no waste.
Apple expect to be able to tell people what to do with devices that have left their control. Someone ought to break it to Tim that they're not on his spreadsheet any more.
> If I take my phone to the recycling centre, I don't have any say in what they do with it
That's your choice to relinquish ownership.
You're a private citizen. You put your cardboard out for the council to collect every week. But if you had a tonne of cardboard and delivered it to the private recycling depot you'd get £25 for it.
You can see there's a scaling thing here? Take aluminium cans. One can isn't worth much. But if you put in the labour to collect and crush them, you'd add value and be rewarded for it. That nice big lump of aluminium would be yours and you would sell it - not just leave it out for the council to collect.
> Apple expect to be able to tell people what to do with devices that have left their control
Only the phones *are* in Apples control - they belong to Apple. They didn't dump them on a council recycling centre, they paid a company to do a job.
"If I take my phone to the recycling centre, I don't have any say in what they do with it."
You sort of do. If they advertise a policy of making the best effort to refurbish and resell used units and/or parts, you (or the public) can hold them to that. If their claims don't hold up to audits, people who brought used units in can claim damages.
I donate or sell my used stuff to reputable recyclers, taking a hit on the trade-in credit that I might have gotten from Apple. If I'd have known that they didn't properly represent my concerns for re-use but just broke the stuff up and tossed it into a bin, I could have let Apple do that and been ahead financially.
For a company that is pivoting to service provision as a means of generating revenue, it sounds like these people have been ensuring that there’s half a million extra customers for those services that Apple hadn’t managed to secure by itself. What’s not to like? They should be paying a commission, not suing them.
Have been on my "Evil" list since the Error 53 fiasco.
In fact since before this when they refused to repair my 3 day out of warranty 4S with the crippled WiFi (grayed out)
Absolutely sure that if this had been in the UK it would have been repaired or replaced.
Personally I hope that one day the EU ban all their products from sale until they behave and permit third party repairs.
So "they refused to repair my out of warranty 4S" then. Or did you think the end date was a suggestion?
You should've taken them to the small claims court. That would have been funny.
I've got loads of companies on my shit list for not randomly doing stuff I wanted them to.
Might have also not helped that I'd used the camera light to repair it temporarily so I could at least use the phone until they got back to me. They did, 3 days after the warranty expired with "sorry the warranty has expired". FFS!
This is why on that day, I swore never to buy another iDevice ever again!
Samsung all the way! Or failing that, Huawei.
MY reaction to this, is to get my iPhone (the only Apple product I own) as a hand-me-down from a family member. Have never in my life purchased a new one.
These second-hand iPhones often come with "issues": battery life, water damage, and similar. In that case, I hie myself off to the local independent repairer of such products, "iPhone Curt". His tech spent an entire morning trying to revive my daughter's "dampened" iPhone SE, before giving up. However, there happened to be a refurb one available for just under $200, and I happily forked over for it. Been working fine ever since.
Now, the wife just purchased a brandy new iWatch. I like to think she could afford it because I go the cheaper route. I have told her several times that I have no interest in an Apple watch. My Seiko automatic is working just fine.
"MY reaction to this, is to get my iPhone (the only Apple product I own) as a hand-me-down from a family member."
What I do is buy 1 or two revisions back (currently using an XS) that I buy from older stock from John Lewis in the UK. I get at least 2 years warranty and this being from John Lewis is second to none. It's a brand new phone so no issues and the first year is actually apple support too so I get to trundle into an apple shop, etc.
I've done this with my macBook, iPad and watch too. I went all Apple a year ago as I just fancied some expensive toys. By getting them all a year out of date I still get a good number of years of software support. As they are all John Lewis I get their support. I saved over a grand buying like this.
"John Lewis are living off a reputation long since gone."
Not in my experience. We've had cause to use them twice. Once for a diswasher - 6 months past the end of its 3 year warranty - we phoned just to see if they would do anything and didn't expect so. they paid for an engineer that arrived next day and repaired it free of charge. We had a TV go 3 weeks before the end of its 5 year warranty - could not be fixed so they gave us a roughly comparable modern version - not comparable in specs to what we lost but comparable in what we would get if we spent the same money now so an improvement - and we also got another one year warranty.
Other family members have similar experiences I'll go by real world examples. Perhaps it's down to it being expected and not enough people like me post positive reviews. Considering Argos has 4.5 on trust pilot I'm thinking that TP are slightly questionable...
Aren't they just chasing a clear breach of contract?
Or should contracts that do not "meet public expectation" be exempt from legal enforcement?
I would like to see global legislation in place to say that all kit (not just Apple - I'm looking at you Microsoft) must be designed so that "consumable" components (batteries, screens, storage) can be replaced simply (that does not necessarily mean by a user).
> I would like to see global legislation in place to say that all kit (not just Apple - I'm looking at you Microsoft) must be designed so that "consumable" components (batteries, screens, storage) can be replaced simply (that does not necessarily mean by a user)
You're right to highlight the user part.
There is a tension between 'right to repair' and the nascent EPR legislation around the world, though only a tension, so it might be mitigated by by design. What is EPR? Initiatives to make the manufacturers responsible for end-of-life disposal of a product. Ultimately, 100% of products will end up disposed of (recycled or land fill) even if every effort is made to repair them along the way. EPR attempts to minimise landfill. It then follows that products would be designed to be easier to dismantle for recycling, since this would save the manufacturers money. We already see this in the use of glue instead of screws (amongst the other advantages of glue such as minimising mechanical stress risers and providing a waterproofing gasket).
I'm not against Right to Repair. I just wish that its advocates gave themselves greater credibility by understanding and then acknowledging eventual End of Life issues and factors, and working towards solutions that are genuinely good for the environment and the consumer.
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Wouldn't you be happy if you went on eBay, bought and paid good money for what you thought is a used iPhone, and it turns out to be one that Apple said is beyond repair and paid for to be recycled? When I buy a used iPhone, I have some expectancy how long it is supposed to last. One that was already beyond its useful life isn't going to last that long.
and it turns out to be one that Apple said is beyond repair
You made the assumption that just because a company says something is beyond repair, it actually is.
Don't be so gullible McFly. I work in the business and have seen companies say such things many a time. Often it's to boost sales of a new shiny, sometimes it's simply because their staff are incompetent because the item is actually made elsewhere. Sometimes it can't be repaired economically but almost always it's repairable if you know the right people with the right skills.
Welcome to the world of used devices. When you go online and buy a used device, it's usually not from the manufacturer. It's from some user who may or may not have damaged the device, meaning you know you're entering the realm of possibly extensive damage. The same is true if you buy from these recyclers or if you buy from someone random who lives near you; there's always the chance that what they call "lightly used" means "only dropped on concrete three or four times". For this reason, I rarely if ever buy used devices that I think are likely to have become damaged, phones among them. When buying other used devices, I require that I get to test things before payment. Those who choose to enter this market know what they're getting into. I have no reason to believe that the phones sold this time were any worse than the average user-sold used device.
That said, it is still a breech of Apple's contract, which is a legal contract. I would prefer that the contract didn't get made, but it was. I'm not saying here that what the recycler's employees did was right or that they should get away with it without consequence.
All phones are constantly tracked, not just apples.
When the phone checks into the base station it delivers its Service identifier (SIM number) and its hardware identifier (IMEI) so Apple know their IMEIs of the phones supposidly destroyed, but using SS7 they can find them active on the network, and if they want to push the protocol, can actulally locate the device.
They have a unique serial number, so Apple can tell when it is checking with Apple's servers to check if there's a software update, or install an app, etc. If the phone is on the "sent to be recycled" list and appears again, they will know. They don't have to even know its location just that its "still active".
That's not the same in any way shape or form as Google tracking what search terms you use, who you send emails to, what ads you click on, what URLs you visit in Chrome, what apps you use and for how long on Android etc. etc. Apple is just tracking whether a device still exists or not.
Planned obsolescence has been the strategy of many (most?) companies for about the past 100 years. It is a by-product of a fundamentally flawed economic system that demands that people must work even if there is no real need to do so. Therefore factories must ensure that its goods must be regularly replaced in order to provide ongoing work for the people making them. In fact we could easily have a World where nobody has to do to do anything that is generally considered "useful" for at least 99% of their lives.
SO THIS IS WHY!!!!
Sorry for yelling. A friend of mine over there works for the US Census. Temp manager, CFsomething.
She's required to gather every little bit of kit from the "enumerators," including the headphones.
We did wonder why, I mean, zero resale value, contaminated, etc. Phones, we understand, easy to "refurbish" by Apple and make money again. Chargers, also.
I'm sure the contract with the Census was very, very juicy.
Now the dots get linked. Apple doesn't want to decrease "potential" sales even that little bit.
People that went door to door, in the heat of summer, facing unfriendly folks, etc., must return EVERYTHING, or else "be charged for its value."
If they want headphones, they must buy their own (and these are no fancy bluetooth anything, just plainest wired ones)...
I am always amazed at how people throw away so much.
When a corporation like Apple is creating trash totally on purpose for just a smidgen of potential sales...
Let me find an appropriate icon...
Where's your evidence that the phones used for the Census will be recycled when returned to Apple? Assuming they were supplying new phones for the Census they'll be refurbished and resold. Apple sells plenty of refurbished devices, and has contracts with companies that buy some of their refurbished devices for sale (i.e. that's how you can get an Apple certified refurbished phone from AT&T or whatever if you want to save money)
People doing the CENSUS don't have any need for headphones, so why should they be supplied? They are provided those iPhones to WORK not screw around. The Census Bureau probably has rules against them using them for personal use or installing additional apps on them, etc. like you'd expect with any corporate issued phone.
DS999, I also believe in fairies, Generally.
I thought exactly like you did.
This is what happened:
Originally, the headphones thing served as a joke. Enumerators actually did ask, and were told they would be allowed to keep those, guffaws all around during training. You be blessed, DS999, for your important thoughts about the important work being made. A pair of headphones is nothing, but then, it is something.
THEN came the specific order that they MUST be returned with the rest of the kit.
Which was weird, but my friend thought no more about it. Then I see this article.
How many of the devices that were to be "recycled" by this Canadian company were actually functional? At least 10%, we know that. Was is, like 30%? 90%? maybe some were actually broken, sure.
I have ONE datapoint regarding Apple honestly "refurbishing." Actually, not, read the article. I know many independents do it, though. I Doubt AT&T and its ilk actually return those to Apple, but rather sell them to some independents. Of course, you probably KNOW, don't you?
The "smoking gun" is the headphones. There is no need that I can think of, for those to be returned. No one in his or her or its sane mind would think of refurbishing those. The only reason that I can think of, to ask to have those returned, is to get them out of the market. You trust the government and the Census and Apple are acting in good faith. I too, once used to believe in fairies...
Against us being able to bring our own landline phones "Repairs performed by untrained technicians might not follow proper safety and repair procedures and could result in improper function, product quality issues or safety events," Apple said at the time.
AT&T claimed that phones from other vendors might damage the phone network. Bullshit, it's all about lock in.
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