Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said that the principles behind the right to repair movement – whereby people can fix or change parts in their electronics – laid the foundation for the tech giant.
Mr Wozniak made the comments on Cameo, a video platform where people can purchase personalised videos from celebrities, in response to a question posed by right-to-repair advocate, technician, and YouTuber Louis Rossman.
“I’m always totally supportive and I totally think the people behind it are doing the right thing,” Mr Wozniak said. “We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world — an open electronics world.”
The company co-founder, who designed the Apple II computer in 1977, described how the computer shipped with full schematics, designs, software, and code listings.
“The Apple II was modifiable and extendable to the maximum … this product was the only source of profits for Apple for the first 10 years on the company. This was not a minor product … there were a lot of good things about being so open that everyone could join the party”, he continued.
“When companies co-operate together with others they can actually have better business than if they’re totally protective and monopolistic”, Mr Wozniak said. “It’s time to recognise the right to repair more fully. I believe that companies inhibit it because it gives the companies power [and] control over everything. In a lot of people’s minds, power over others equates to money and profits.”
Apple has been accused of holding back efforts to make devices more easy to repair. As such, it has become something of an enemy for the “right to repair” movement, which argues that owners of iPhones and other devices are being forced to damage the environment by not being able to fix their own gadgets.
But Apple has argued that allowing people to open up and fix their own devices would pose a danger as well as hampering its own designs.
It has also opposed legislation that would force companies to act in accordance with the principles of right to repair and make it easier for people to fix their own devices.
In emails published in June 2020, former director of corporate communications Lori Lodes said that Apple was supporting right to repair options while “actively fighting Right to Repair legislation … in 20 states”.
Apple also fought against right to repair laws in Nevada, Bloomberg reported, and used trade groups to push talking points that right-to-repair “would have gifted hackers with digital keys to thousands of Internet-connected products.”
In the European Union, right to repair laws would mean that consumer electronics could be repaired for up to 10 years, supported by the companies that manufacture them. In the United Kingdom, similar legislation was watered down so that it would not include coverage of smartphones or laptops.
“Is it your computer, or is it some company’s computer? Think about that. It’s time to start doing the right things”, Mr Wozniak concluded in his video.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.