Apple’s repair plan a win for innovators: Woz | Information Age

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Steve Wozniak is the ultimate inveterate tinkerer. PHoto: Shutterstock

Apple’s “surprising” decision to let customers repair their own devices is a welcome nod to the spirit of curiosity that helped the company find its feet over 40 years ago, co-founder Steve Wozniak has said while warning managers to find ways to keep that same spirit alive.

“Sometimes companies get so big that they say ‘sorry, the user doesn’t matter at all’,” Wozniak said during a recent ServiceNow webinar.

Those companies, he said – including Apple – often adopt an attitude that “’the user doesn’t matter at all, and we’re the only important ones because we make all the choices and we own the product, not you.’”

“I don’t like that thinking, and that’s why I go the other way.”

A lifelong engineer who “was one of those people that like to take things apart,” Wozniak has been a vocal advocate for learning and a supporter of the growing RtR movement.

In July, he famously posted a Cameo monologue arguing that users should be able to get more hands-on with their technology.

Months later, Apple has announced it will soon begin selling spare parts and instruction manuals to guide help users replace commonly-damaged or worn-out components.

“If a person is technically smart and knows how to go in and replace a bad battery, screen, or part that burned out – and they know how to do it very carefully – they should be able to do that,” Wozniak said, arguing that companies “need to give users a bit more credit.”

“If they violate the warranty, they violate it – but there are a lot of things you can do safely without ruining the product.”

Innovation is lightning in a bottle

As a career engineer and inveterate tinkerer, Wozniak spent years engaging with the erstwhile Homebrew Computer Club and similar organisations around the world, to which Wozniak often paid visits even as Apple took off.

Although his profile means he receives “up to two dozen [business] proposals a day”, a lifetime of innovation has given him a nose for truly innovative companies such as Privateer Space, the space debris cleanup company he co-founded this September.

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