All Part of the iPhone's Planned Obsolescence?
Steve Jobs may be taking a break right now, but this latest Apple plot seems diabolic enough to have come out of his brain. The iPhone-maker has recently transitioned to a new sort of tamper-resistant screw. No "readily available" screwdrivers can remove it, which forces customers to rely on Apple technicians for repairs.
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The 2010 MacBook Air uses this screw to complicate getting into the notebook's guts, as do many non-US iPhone 4s and all new iPhone 4s now in production. On its own, that doesn't sound unreasonably awful. But Apple technicians are also under orders to replace all current iPhone screws with these new ones.
These screws only show up somewhere on the outer case of the device, so their purpose is very obviously to prevent user access.
I've reached out to Apple, but this seems like a fairly cut and dry case. The Cupertino-based company has a long reputation of antagonism to modders and jailbreakers. Apple hardware is meant to be used in very specific ways. This represents the most direct physical action yet taken to discourage consumers from altering / exploring their own products.
It's one thing to rescind a warranty or refuse repair service to an obviously modified / hacked device. It's another to go out of your way to stop customers from playing around with the gadgets they own. Replacing existing iPhone screws with no option to opt out is a major violation of consumer trust.
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What (if any) fallout this move will provoke is unclear. If you'd like a screwdriver that is capable of working on these newfangled screws, iFixIt sells them for $9.95.