back to article Google to sell replacement Pixel phone parts via iFixit

In a nod to right-to-repair efforts, Google is partnering with iFixit to offer spare parts for its Pixel smartphones dating all the way back to 2017. Genuine Pixel parts will be in stock for iFixit customers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and EU countries that sell Pixels "later this year." Parts will be available for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Motivation

    I can see two things coming out of this, neither is sustainability.

    First, this is Google's defense against right to repair laws. They can legitimately say that they allow users to repair their phones.

    But I wonder if there's a second, more profitable angle? They sell the user the parts, the user messes up, and Google then charges the user for a factory repair or even a new phone if the user manages to brick theirs.

    1. goldcd

      I think you're being over-cynical

      Providing ifixits guides with google's parts - gives a pretty damn good mechanism to let you repair your phone.

      My guess is that repairing phones has never been a profit centre (even for apple with their battery swaps) - the fight within the coporations has been between planned obsolescence and buying the latest version.

      Pendulum has been swinging back against this for numerous reasons - there's the right to repair lobby, there's the decreasing levels of progress between the yearly updates - and maybe more importantly the shift from making money from the hardware to the services that can be sold over it.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: I think you're being over-cynical

        Yeah I don't know where people get this idea that repairs of smartphones is some huge profit center. In reality it is something the vendors didn't want to support because it isn't worth the hassle. Apple provides repair service at their stores not because they rake in millions from it, but because that's kind of necessary if you want to sell AppleCare - and buyers of products that are sold as "premium" expect to have some sort of all encompassing premium warranty option. They said they wanted to model the experience on buying a higher end car, so you have the showroom, the service center, the "comprehensive insurance" available with repairs that include loaner "vehicle" if it can't be done while you wait, etc.

        Stocking parts probably only makes sense for batteries and displays. Nothing else will be replaced often enough for the cost of supporting such a program to be recovered without significant markups in the price of the part. If you want to do something weird like replace a vibration motor, don't expect it to be cheap. That goes double for Google, since the sales volume of Pixels is so much less than the sales of iPhones, so the need for parts should similarly be much less. If they create instructions on how to replace the vibration motor and stock replacement parts, and only one person orders that part for the life of that particular Pixel model, how could that ever be worth it to them? Even selling that part for $1000 wouldn't come close to recovering their cost. Obviously they can't price it like that or people will have a fit, so instead they'll take a loss on everything they stock except for batteries and displays.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: I think you're being over-cynical

          I mostly agree but there is a partial solution: If a repair shop cannot fix a phone because a specific part is unavailable, keep the useless broken phone and use it for spares of any other difficult to source part.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Motivation

      The chance of doing it wrong by yourself is always there, but that's what the guides are there for. If you don't have confidence that you can do it properly, I'm sure you can find someone who will do it for you so long as you pay them (of course they may also fail). Google wouldn't mind if you failed and bought another one, but when they weren't providing parts, the result was the same. At least now, a lot of people who would try DIY repair will succeed. I think your second argument is incorrect.

      Your first is probably correct, but I'm good with that. If they want to attract attention by doing the right thing in a way that actually works for me and all the others who want to repair, then I like that approach. It's much better than pretending to be interested while taking no real action. It's also better than hiring lobbyists to try to kill legislation. Basically, Google saw that people might require them to do it, so they found a way they could do it that worked for them. Unless something turns up that hampers the plan, this looks like a positive to me.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Wholesale

    Right to repair is more than just selling parts to end customers at a reasonable price - will repair shops be able to buy them as well and will schematics and technical manuals be made available?

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Wholesale

      100% agree, it is one thing to sell parts but if the price of parts is too high or do not provide schematics and technical manuals for a far price it just PR and not very useful.

      I look forward to seeing what Louis Rossmann has to say about this. While he mostly repairs Apple produces it he believes in something called Right to Repair and is actively lobbying for the law to change.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Designed for repair?

    I've worked to fix Google phone for years now, the earlier Nexus phones were relatively easy to open and repair but these days phones are not definitely designed to be repaired. Just replacing the battery can mean a complete disassembly, removing glue and tape internally and then juggling wiring around internally to get the old battery out. It's common if then reassemble the phone and find that it will not restart because something else got broken in the repair.

    This is a design feature - phones are built to live a few years and then make the user buy a new phone. Users are just Google's food.

    1. gerryg

      Re: Designed for repair?

      You might be right, but if there is room for improvement I'm sure iFixit will deliver

      I have used iFixit in the past to repair (other people's) Apple laptops. I've found the company to be both good value and with good repair guides.

      Although I'm a cheapskate second-hand laptop, Linux, Moto G kind of person, I often wonder why (as here, Google and Pixel) when large organisations do something in the right direction there's always so much effort put into demonstrating why it is green-wash.

      Two years down the line you might be right. But today, we don't know.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Designed for repair?

        My comment is just based on trying to keep my families phones running for years now - iFixit has always done an excellent job documenting the "fixes" and making the parts available. Doing the repairs can work, but it's not easy because of the way the phones are built.

      2. JoeCool Silver badge

        Re: Designed for repair?

        It's not a complaint about greenwashing. He's making the point that repairability has to be designed in. The modern practice of gluing everything together is the major roadblock to fixing consumer devices.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. innominatus

    Essential maintenance?

    "everything you need for the most common Google Pixel Repairs" - could we also have data privacy, security, ad-blockers and default telemetry, geolocation and other tracking off?

  5. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I have only one thing to say ....

    .... Fairphone!

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      I do have another thing to say ....

      Framework for laptops!

      Between the two I can now repair my two most used IT assets rather than adding then to the pile of electronic waste when a single component failure makes them unusable.

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