Product Repairs Get Tougher [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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08-11-2016, 08:30 PM
NBCNews recently wrote an article on how today’s electronic devices are becoming more and more difficult to fix. It seem the trend in consumer electronic industry is to make product repairs obsolete.

Here are some highlights from article:

There are many reasons that consumer products are increasingly manufactured in ways that make it nearly impossible to fix them.

Among them: Ever-tighter design requirements, manufacturers' fears of intellectual property theft or liability if a repair goes wrong, and the growing number of products that contain proprietary software — a class that will explode in the era of the Internet of Things.

But critics say profit generated by repeat product sales is the biggest driver behind disposable consumer products.

"These companies are prioritizing their bottom line at the expense of the rest of us," said Kyle Wiens, CEO and co-founder of iFixit, a wiki-based repair website. "It's possible to make repairable, long-lasting electronics, but if they did that it could hurt their future sales. They're putting us on a treadmill where we're forced to buy new gizmos every couple years, whether we want to or not."

Professional repairers -- particularly independents -- also are often stymied by restrictive manufacturer agreements that limit access to replacement parts to "authorized" technicians. Such challenges largely explain why the U.S. electronics and computer repair industry contracted by 1.2 percent per year between 2010 and 2015, according to IBISWorld

And disposability practices pioneered by electronics manufacturers is also spreading to other industries.

Siddarth Parkash, one of the study's co-authors, says the problem likely will worsen.

"I fear that this downward trend might continue because manufacturers, in order to compete in the market, are continuously reducing the production costs and with it, the planned lifespans," he said by email.

"Reducing costs means compromising on the quality control of the materials, components and supply chain as well as avoiding comprehensive lifetime and durability tests for the products. To make things even worse, consumers are becoming accustomed to shorter lifespans." ws-ux-600-480.jpg

The Fix Is Out: Product Repairs Get Tougher in New Age of Obsolescence - NBC News (

08-12-2016, 03:42 AM
I guess most of us have been aware for a couple of decades that getting repairs for failed equipment is difficult and becoming progressively more so.

The item Smokey has pass on to us seems (to me) to emphasise "planned obsolescence". I'm suspect this is a big factor but the other side of the coin is that consumer demand (a) ever lower prices and (b) "features" vs. reliability. If consumers really demanded high quality, they would be more likely to get it. As it is, only a few high-end products are actually designed to be reliable over the long term.

Technology, meanwhile, has enabled difficult to repair components. E.g. circuit boards are now robot-produced with ultra-miniatured, surface-mounted components. This is clearly a cheaper method of production. On the up side, the products often work as well or better than older technology and, if well designed and quality-checked, can last a long time. However if they fail, they are virtually unrepairable.

08-12-2016, 07:27 AM
I deal with the other extreme on a daily basis with older and almost obsolete hardware. We perform media archiving, so use mostly outdated players such as Studer A807 1/4", DATs, Umatic, Betacam/Betamax, SVHS, Technics SL-1210 and EMT-948 turntables and DVcam/HDcam players. It's not so much the designs are difficult to repair, but parts are becoming obsolete. Many times I've done the troubleshooting only to find the OP amp, or logic chip is no longer available. If we're lucky we find a defective unit we can salvage parts from. It's a race against time to digitize the media while players are still available for playback. Not quite planned obsolescence, but obsolescence none the less.

08-12-2016, 08:48 AM
We live in a disposable era, which is ironic considering the increased worldwide awareness of conservation and recycling. I'm convinced that HTC programs their phones to essentially die right around 2 years, which used to be the standard contract length, thereby forcing me to upgrade. A friend that is a 40yr tech and salesperson of electronics told me a story a while back on how a customer purchased a new LED tv from him that was malfunctioning right after the 1 yr mark. Being an electronic engineer, he requested the schematics from the manufacturer, but there were none. Parts weren't available either. The only thing they could do was but a new one, which was thankfully covered under an extended warranty. But still, you have to wonder...

08-12-2016, 09:33 AM
Apple is one of the worst in this regard.

Mr Peabody
08-12-2016, 11:41 AM
I'm mad as hell and by gawd I'm not going to take it. :)

People will either have to decide they've had enough and go back to old tech or keep taking the abuse and paying whatever the industries demand. I am about to do that with cellphone. Now the companies don't want to give you a contract unless you lease a phone or pay for it on your monthly bill. They try to tell you the price is cheaper this way but I don't see it. Companies think they have the public eating out of their hand and we will do whatever it takes to get their product. Sadly, for the most part they are right. What's it going to take to wake up the sheep?