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Apple's Pentalobular Screws Are Keeping Consumers Out of Their Own iPhones Apple's Pentalobular Screws Are Keeping Consumers Out of Their Own iPhones

Apple's special new screws are keeping consumers out of their own gadgets and slowing the open-source progression on which computers rely. Why?


Less than a week after being taken to task by Chinese environmental groups for allowing its Chinese suppliers to skirt basic environmental codes, Apple is again being chastised by consumers, this time for making it difficult for Apple users to get inside their own machines.

Quietly, Apple has begun using a new kind of flower-shaped, five-pointed screw—called a "pentalobular screw"—in the casings of iPhones and some laptops. The problem here is that few people currently have pentalobular screwdrivers, meaning the special fastener serves as a way for Apple to minimize after-market care and enhancements to its products. In other words, Apple is making it so Apple consumers can't access the guts of their own gadgets, and many loyal Apple customers are furious.


Apple is sending a message ... : This is mine and you cannot get into it, you cannot tamper with it. It alienates your customers and puts the independent service providers out of business.

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Outside of consumer alienation, however, the most salient point is that producing a pentalobular screwdriver isn't impossible, it's just annoying. As TreeHugger notes, "[W]ith 3D printing, people can mould and cast driver heads in minutes. ... All Apple is doing is slowing people down and aggravating them." (In fact, the repair site iFixit is already on the pentalobular case, but it's a shame that they had to produce brand new screwdrivers, thus making more waste, just to give people access to their own things.)

We at GOOD have long touted the ecological and economic benefits of repair. Why Apple is so opposed to allowing consumers into their own belongings remains to be seen. But a growing Apple backlash calls into question the wisdom of trying to squelch the sort of open-source noodling that's been a bedrock of technological progression.


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