Hi all, Grea things are afoot!
Grea things are afoot! 😃
As well as the promising progress of the right-to-repair movement, which I shared the petition for earlier, the EU itself is moving forward with ways to ensure that consumer electronics, including smartphones, are easier to repair overall.
A new standard has been agreed for "General methods for the assessment of the ability to repair, reuse and upgrade energy-related products", in other words - repairability scores.
Some of you might be familiar with iFixit, the website which provides information on the disassembly, repair and reassembly of smartphones and other electronic items. They were heavily involved in the development of this standard and found themselves fighting against many people in the electronics industry to get what many EU citizens consider to be the morally correct approach.
EU "barometer survey" on public attitudes to environmental issues:
The industry's motives are fairly well known and no surprise - to be profitable and maximise return on investment for their shareholders, that's capitalism! 😆
Are HMD any different? As far as I can tell, no they are not. However, it would be unfair to identify any single manufacturer in this case, as I believe most take the same approach and when they see one vendor having greater success they tend to copy that approach. Hence why we see so many smartphones now which are very difficult to repair, a trend started by Apple and based on their success other vendors clearly think that this is a good business model! The same reason that repair information and spare parts cannot be obtained outside of authorised repair networks - a model which has brought Apple a lot of profits. I did say it would be unfair to identify any single manufacturer, but let's give "credit" to Apple for popularising this morally bankrupt approach 😉
HMD are in the same market as everyone else, they are selling smartphones and they need to sell as many for as large a profit margin as possible to satisfy their investors. If they make their phones last longer, or be easily repairable outside of their authorised service network, then they may* potentially lose revenue from resale, licensing fees or spare parts sales. In addition, some industrial designers would argue that they cannot design an easily repairable smartphone given current industry trends for aesthetics, and a repairable smartphone would not be aesthetically attractive enough to sell sufficient numbers. I think this is why HMD are selling so many glass sandwich phones, rather than the metal backed phones with easily replaceable batteries which many of us would prefer.
*I say may because this is a gamble, a balance of risk. I personally believe that a long term sustainable business model which encourages loyalty through product longevity and easy repairability is actually more attractive, however, I'm not an entrepreneur and not responsible for the billions of € of investment that HMD have been given 😉 HMD are targeting growth, and growth requires lots of sales, hence their strategy and approach to industrial design, in my opinion.
Some of HMD's devices are more repairable than others. The cheaper phones tend to have a less complicated construction and probably use off the shelf parts. Some actually do have easily replaceable batteries 😃 But the flagships, and mid-range devices, are sadly as unrepairable as the vast majority of smartphones one can buy.
The EU's intention seems to be that this repairability score will be displayed in the same way that energy efficiency scores are displayed - at the point of sale, next to the device. I've mentioned before that in France retailers are apparently obliged to show at the point of sale how long spare parts will be available for, and now there is an optional system for retailers to show durability and repairability at the point of sale, but I struggled to find examples. Fnac apparently do this, but I still struggle to find phones on their website with this information.
Do you have any examples of retailers doing this in your country? Please share.