Mother of Invention

Jackson’s discussion of repair as a form of innovation brought to mind Apple products, which are designed to be as difficult as possible, or preferably impossible, for a consumer to repair at home. There are dozens of stories from consumers who brought their products to the Apple help desk only to find that the issue was a bit of dust in the charging port or that Apple refused to repair the device at all and suggested replacement or upgrade. Apple technicians are prohibited from repairing any phones that show signs of consumer attempts at repair, including off-brand replacement phone screens. Despite the intentionally troublesome design of Apple products, dozens of repair companies spring up, and several YouTubers have gone viral for their home-repair videos. Although none of these issues would exist if Apple did not make it so difficult and expensive to fix their products, or even if they always agreed to repair the devices as part of the company services, anyone who decides to fix their own phone or tablet learns more about the technology that they use every day, and none of those troubleshooting solutions would exist either. If the secrecy and obstacles did not exist, neither would the workarounds, and both general and technical knowledge would suffer for it. In scientific research, several discoveries have been made on accident when attempting to understand a separate problem; I imagine the history of technological advancement reveals similar experiences. Necessity and creativity combine, in this case, and lead to innovation (or, to better follow the phrase, invention).

Leave a Reply