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Thread: Right to Repair movement

  1. #1
    "Thermionic Apocalypse" -JT nickb's Avatar
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    Right to Repair movement

    Interesting movement. It looks like right to repair legislation is gaining traction 8 States Have Introduced Right to Repair Legislation, Apple to Oppose | iFixit

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    That's great, I'm all for it!
    I find it deeply frustrating when manufacturer's won't even supply basic info (schematic, parts list) to me, never mind spare parts.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    From the article
    Tinkerers, recyclers, and mom-and-pop repair shops don’t have nearly the lobbying power of Apple, John Deere, and Cisco
    Just to take the Devil's advocate position (Apple's advocate?) it is entirely reasonable that there will be those who hang out a shingle to get your business - think 'Tinkerers, recyclers, and mom-and-pop repair shops' - who don't have the high-tech chops to get the job done. If I were the ghost of Steve Jobs, I'd fight like hell to keep bubba from poisoning my brand with half-wit repairs.

    How does this bill relate to qualified repair shops? Aren't there authorized shops for these manufacturers?
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conner View Post
    If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Yes, I can hang out a sign that says Apple phones repaired here. You bring me your broke phone, and I have no idea how to fix it, and I give it back. You, as a typical customer, will not think, "Gee, Enzo can't fix phones for crap." You will think, "Fucking Apple stuff is crap."

    Is it frustrating when I want a schematic or a part, and the OEM won't provide it? Sure, of course. But companies have their own strategies in marketing. They do not all come to the same conclusions, but all are done in consideration of brand, reliability, customer satisfaction.

    Aren't there authorized shops for these manufacturers?
    In our industry, usually, but there are brands with NO authorized centers. People want their own expectations met. I know nothing of John Deere, but I know people. SO if someone here in Mason wants his Deere fixed, and he finds the closest authorized shop is in Grand Rapids, he will wail and cry that his local Mason guy ought to be able to fix it. Deere provided an authorized shop, but customer wants something else.

    Authorized repair stations have a certain investment in the situation. Companies like Fender will not grant authorized shop status to every guy who can fix things. They consider whether there are already authorized shops in the area. If I have the Lansing franchise, so to speak, on Fender repair, I don't want the company opening five more shops to take money away from my shop.

    Making this law? I dunno, I doubt it will have the effect the people want. It will be a boon for the tiny number of people who could do such work. As an authorized shop, I get parts at wholesale, civilians will pay retail. That means the mom and pop fixit shop will have double the parts cost, of course doubled to the customer. I also am required to have a reasonable stock of parts, the local fixit won't have that inventory, and so must order every part he needs. (20 some years ago, to become a QSC authorized shop, I had to buy a $400 parts setup.) Customer will wait in frustration. Of course fixit will tell them the company is holding him up.

    And all this says nothing about qualification. Phones are radio devices, and so certain FCC rules must be observed, is the local fixit equipped to determine if out of band interference is being created? We all know a guy who learns how to do basic repairs on old fenders, hangs out a shingle, and still thinks white ceramic fuses turn black when they blow. Or wonders why all the green resistors in his Peavey are open. (The little ceramic caps that look like resistors).

    WHo says all this data must be free? Peavey will send you a schematic for nothing. If I want the schematic for my Ford Pickup, I have to buy the service manual for $75. Fixit wants a schematic for his Apple phone? OK, $40 please.

    SO go ahead and go for it, but I bet everyone will still be just as unhappy when it is done.
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  5. #5
    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    The schematics and other service related information on macbooks and iPhones is not offered up by Apple. Sure you may need to pay some website but that site is not represented by Apple, the company has nothing to do with giving out their schematics. Also, you can find many schematics for these devices online for free just like we do here as amp techs. Apple has no REAL authorized repair centers. Sure they call it "authorized" but if you do your research you will discover they don't fix anything. Those authorized repair centers will replace your broken device with a refurbished product and the price is still pretty hefty, assuming it is under warranty. In the right to repair world they are referred to as screen replacing monkeys and anything beyond that is too technical to repair. Watch this video of Louis Rossman calling "authorized" repair centers and independent repair shops to hear actual real world information.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR5ZUl0Q-NI

    Fact is that states don't have the legislation alone to create a solution to the right to repair argument. The real fight will have to made in a Federal court. However, get enough states involved and it definitely gets a movement going strong.
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  6. #6
    "Thermionic Apocalypse" -JT nickb's Avatar
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    It's tricky...

    It seems to me that the biggest guns the opposition have are EMC and safety. There is no doubt that a repair, improperly done, will have an adverse effect on at least one of these and render the product illegal and dangerous. The pro lobby will say that all we need is good information so the job will be done correctly. It's my position that the availability of repair info really won't change things very much as a competent person already knows what needs to be done to do the job correctly. Such data just makes that outcome easier, more certain and at lower cost.

    Some equipment has to be factory only e.g. a nuclear weapon interface , certain medical equipment and so on. Others systems are inherently non-repairable.

    I have no problem if companies ask you to pay for the info. It takes time and effort to maintain the data. But I also hope that when calculating the cost they factor in the goodwill that an inexpensive to repair reputation creates.
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  7. #7
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Hey, excellent video.

    Loved the "we do not do soldering" answers.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  8. #8
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    The deal-breaker for me is when a company will neither repair a product nor provide any information. I've had this quite a few times where I've redirected a customer to an approved repair shop only for them to be refused. It bounces back to me but I'm stuck because I can't get the service information to make the job worthwhile. It means the product as far as the manufacturer is concerned is now landfill. It makes repair difficult - sometimes infeasible. In the main, large organisations don't want to maintain an interest in discontinued products. Like me taking my old and rusty VW to a dealership - the type where if you drop your sandwich on the workshop floor you can pick it up and eat it because the floor is cleaner than your hand.

    And I'm not talking about vintage stuff - some of this gear is just a few years old.
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  9. #9
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    I do not think Companies are forced to give you Service information, at all.

    To guarantee a product for a certain period of time, yes, they must be held responsible , still can choose the way to solve your problem, which might go from plain repairing to replacing to, worst case, full refunding, period.

    I clearly remember warnings at the end of , say, camer film rolls, VHS cassettes, etc. brochures, that "maximum/full resposability amounts to replacing product with same or equivalent or full refund of purchase price, anything else excluded", basically to avoid "annoyance suing" for 1 Million Dollars because "their $3 roll of color film failed and ruined your honeymoon memories" or whatever.
    Doubly so in Lawyerland, a.k.a. USA .

    Servicing information often includes proprietary information or procedures.

    Servicing may be impossible or cost 2X to 10X replacement product price.

    Refurbishing is something else, because repairing a bunch of stuff in bulk may be way more efficient than one by one on separate days.
    I always mention this: Argentina Marshall/Gibson/Morley (plus a dozen smaller brands) was Import Music.
    In one of our recurrent economic crisis they stopped paying for imports and were cut off, including servicing , for a couple years (think 2002/2004) but they had sold a ton of Marshalls, mainly Valvestate and JCM900.

    They keep a small army of low paid teen Electronics students for the basic stuff, but when problem becomes just a little more complex "their books burn" , so they called me.

    I would not work for what they offered so I suggested: "call me when you have 50 of anything and weīll arrange a bulk price".

    So when they called for 50 VS8080 I went to their warehouse (10 blocks away from my home/shop) , I asked their trained monkees to open all of them on a looong table, and I proceeded to diagnose them, wrote what needed to be replaced on each, and while I kept going along the line they were repairing the already seen ones, then on the second pass I checked them, a few still needed something else done so we repeated the drill, then they reassembled the amps.

    I charged them fixed U$1000 for the job (which buy a lot here, what U$2000 or more would buy in USA) , it was good for me, and good for them, because it amounted to $20 per amp (they bought the parts), which had a retail price of about $500/700 each.

    I think they sold them to retail shops around $350/390 each, and the whole job was made in 1 afternoon and part of the next day.
    After the first 3 or 4 problems started repeting, of course: bad TIP142/147, drivers, some bad pots/jacks, the odd cracked solder around a jack when somebody stepped on the cable, etc.
    Only problem I did not repair that day was open high voltage autotransformers, becuse they had to be rewound.
    I sent them to my trusted winder guy, and 2 weeks later repaired those for my regular price, by then they didnīt argue, it was still a bargain.

    But if a regular customer had brought just one to my shop, he woud have had to pay some $80/100 each, and wait a few days.

    And if customers or "a friend who is handy with a soldering gun" had tried to repair them, even though the schematic is widely available, I bet at least 50% of them would have been damaged beyond repair, mainly scorched to death PCBs.
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    Juan Manuel Fahey

  10. #10
    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    Also it must be noted that Apple has now started forcing it's recyclers to shred all the old devices. They use to be able salvage old devices and sell them to people who could then harvest parts for repairs. Since Apple will not provide parts for independent repair shops to buy the only way is buy donor boards. It seems Apple is being wasteful of this still useful salvage and while claiming to be green, shredding all this stuff up should be last resort. Yes there are many sides to this debate but at the heart of it is a company that holds 250 billion dollars in offshore cash reserves to avoid being taxed by the US for bringing it back in the country.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/a...hones-macbooks
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  11. #11
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    I've been taking occasional work from a dealership that has an approved warranty repair workshop. I won't say who or what because it's pretty sensitive. The engineers there don't carry out repairs, only replacing boards or doing firmware updates. I'm working on in-warranty products at board-level. They don't do any repairs because the reimbursement is a fixed price; they get the parts, plus so many minutes (set by the manufacturer) to diagnose and install the replacement. Their costs and overheads are so high that it doesn't make economic sense to diagnose and fix a board.

    That's fine - I've run workshops and set up similar agreements.

    Except, the workshop can't get always get replacement boards, or boards that are sent out have a newer revision that won't work with the rest of the circuit and cannot be retro-fitted. So that's where I come in. The company is committed to keeping customers happy. I can give a quick turnaround on a board repair and so long as I don't spend too long can get a repair done and still clear some income.

    The killer in this is the factory-gate price of a replacement board is usually much less than 30 minutes of labour cost + overheads. You cannot repair something commercially for more than it cost to make. East meets West. Chinese economics versus Western.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Juan, no one is now forced to provide service documentation, but if I read it right, that is the point of the legislation, it WOULD force them to do so.
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  13. #13
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Yes, hatīs what I understood also, the Law will force them to ... or at least try.

    In any case, they may "comply" and yet non factory repairs may still be impossible.

    In most modern stuff, the schematic and disassembly instructions tell you nothing, or not much, if the magic is performed inside a proprietary 100 pin per side square cockroach or a BGA chip or similar.

    The Law wonīt go as far as forcing them to surrender any software or burnt in firmware which is protected by intellectual property Law.

    Sadly, I consider most such stuff as disposable/unrepairable , period.
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    Juan Manuel Fahey

  14. #14
    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    One lobbyist for Apple last year used the argument that replacing a screen could result in splintered cracked glass thereby cutting the person doing a repair. At least in the amp world the lobbyist could say something on the lines that repairing products that contain 500vdc is a real safety hazard.

    One of my main reasons for my learning how to repair things was that I had become annoyed by the throw it away society mentality.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    yeah sure, and I would say to the Apple guy that they are more likely to be killed in their car on the way to the Apple store. Apple gonna cover that?


    people are stupid, really. And I don;t blame electronics OEMs for saying there is nothing user serviceable inside. I remember a guy calling me for help on an amp, and I suggested checking the plate voltages. he said, "Good idea. Now the plate is that metal cover on the bottom of the chassis, right?" Made me think about qualifying people before suggesting repair approaches.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I remember a guy calling me for help on an amp, and I suggested checking the plate voltages. he said, "Good idea. Now the plate is that metal cover on the bottom of the chassis, right?"
    You should have said 'anode'

  17. #17
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I fear he needed a lot more help than that. But I didn't want to be the agent of his electrocution.
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  18. #18
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    Have you ever had the joy of replacing an IPod battery?

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iPod+Cl...eplacement/561

    Time required: 30 minutes to 2 hours.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I seem to recall years ago there was a special tool for cracking open Mac monitor cases. if memory serves me - and it often doesn't - it was a big scissorsy thing. Hey, I found it...

    Case cracker | Article about case cracker by The Free Dictionary
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    As someone who is far from a "professional" like some of you (which I have a lot of respect for, by the way) that have your own businesses and do this for a living, I have repaired close to fifty or so amps in the last four years as a service to those who either were a store that was short a tube amp tech temporarily (or didn't have the volume to employ one) or the general musician from my circle of friends and acquaintances. I don't live in a big city where there are actual repair shops, I'm in the middle of corn & sugar beet fields as are most of my customers. I consider myself a stop-gap shop and have no problem telling someone they need to take their equipment to an authorized service center or be totally honest with them and tell them it's not worth fixing if that's the case. In my case though, most of the amps I've repaired have been old Fenders or Marshalls, with a smattering of Peavey, Crate and other tube amps. I know my limitations, I won't work on something I don't think I can fix but thanks to you guys I have learned a ton, especially about diagnosing something I'm not familiar with.

    My biggest complaint has been not being able to get a schematic for an out-of-warranty amp from one particular manufacturer. Even the authorized dealer couldn't because they weren't an authorized service center. Did I actually need a schematic for this job? No, but to be fair I didn't want to guess at the values of some burned components because I didn't want to chance making the problem worse. Does that make me an amateur? Maybe, but I would rather tell the customer I can't repair it and why than look like an absolute imbecile for ruining his amp. So at that point I have to make the decision to never work on that brand and tell people straight up why. As Enzo said, the requirements for having stock of parts A through X is a factor and beyond my fiscally responsible (usually) mind because I don't have a "real" shop. I stock the most common parts for tube amps that I have or will probably work on. I buy in small bulk quantities from a wholesaler because I do just enough to meet the minimums and I'm ok with that.

    So my point is, I agree with the sentiment that companies limit who can work on things because of liability and proprietary reasons, but I have a real issue with companies that won't share information to keep their stuff working once it's out of warranty. I'm very stubborn, if I think I can probably fix something of my own but the manufacturer won't let me, that irritates me. I went through that with a front-loading washing machine. Never again. But I am also a realist and I know they do that to some extent for forced obsolescence like auto manufacturers do so they can continue to sell new products every few years. The days of building products that last are gone. Probably forever, and that's pretty sad.
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    I have a digital camera. Out of warranty, but very much liked. It has a minor fault, but it's a multi-layer board that I'm unable to trace. I know what's wrong with it and can bypass the faulty section, but doing so leaves an LED on that drains the battery. The authorized repairer for the brand won't take it because it's obsolete as far as they're concerned, and the company won't send me even a partial schematic. None of the smaller SMD resistors or capacitors have markings. A real shame and I'll have to buy a new one. Exactly the intention.
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  22. #22
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    A real shame and I'll have to buy a new one. Exactly the intention.
    Cool, but make a point of buying *another* brand, sending them a picture of sales receipt as proof, and telling them why you switched.
    Not that the new brand will treat you any better, but thatīs not the point, which is remarking lost sales.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  23. #23
    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    Don't forget Apple pioneered "pentalobe screws" just to further dissuade anyone opening their iphone cases

    https://www.treehugger.com/sustainab...lf-repair.html

    Engineering (unlike pure science) only goes where the money points it, and that's toward more sales and less jobs, always. Efficiency.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    more sales and less jobs, always. Efficiency.
    ALmost. I'd counter that jobs are irrelevant to them, more profit is the motive. If more jobs increased their profit, they wouldn;t hesitate to hire. And if they can increase profit by reducing sales in some manner, they will do that as well. That is why Sears and Penneys are closing stores. it will reduce sales overall, but increase profitability.

    Obviousy it is more complicated than just those two factors, but in my view the goal is profit, not specifically jobs or sales.
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  25. #25
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    This will stop only when itīs no longer economically doable.

    It was a great business when stuff could be made at Third World salaries and sold to First World salaried customers.

    HUGE profits.

    Guess what?

    USA salaries have halved or worse: from U$15/20 an hour as Industrial unionized workers to U$7/8 at WalMart (already USA *largest* employer so their salaries are todayīs reality, by definition) or McD or similar.

    China salaries have QUINTUPLED, from $45/60 a Month to some U$250/300 today ... and rising.

    No need for salaries to meet, as soon as USA *net* salaries become, say, double those in China, "voltage difference" will not be enough to sustain "current" (Chinese goods into USA, USA salaries Dollars spent in Chinese goods) given the "losses" in the path: Business profit + operational costs.

    And then, full replacing no matter what will no longer be possible, people will start to consider repair again, like it or not.

    NOW people is finding that paying U$750 to replace stuff is starting to hurt, and want repairs .... just what I said above.

    Maybe the future is closer than we think.
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  26. #26
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    As China grows and increases its wages, there is the rest of the world out there. We already have stuff coming from Viet Nam, Indonesia. Myanmar is waking up and joining the world, I bet they would work cheap for a few years. What if the regime in NoKo falls apart, it would take some time for them to ramp their wages up. But those are just others in the area. Most of Africa has great potential for years of cheap labor. Sudan is in turmoil now, but they would LOVE to have an industry come to town. Or Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, or...or...or...

    And all that assumes the state of the art remains about as it is. But while we good ole boys l;ike our tube amps and tend to shun the little modelling/digital amps, the general public lacks those hangups. And the modelers are getting better. Back in the day of PacMan, Galxians, Asteroids, and other popular arcade games, each game had its own dedicated computer board. Nowdays, we just use a computer base and plug different memory into it to change games. Well imagine a well designed digital guitar amp system. The base system - the board they would build - has all the I/O and capacity for ANY model they want to make. Feed different software into it and it is model X, fill it with a different program and it is model Y. The boards need not be large. Controls would all be encoders, so reduced inventory, no ten values of pots any more. A standard panel across a line could be configured for any functions. Just print up an escutcheon panel for the given model. Like a smart phone with a hundred apps instead of a separate wrist watch, GPS unit, telephone, health monitor, etc. You can already buy a smart phone type system with emulations for many popular effect pedals. Remember when standard was to stack two Marshall 4x12s with a 100 watt on top? Now small combos are hip. No stretch to think that belt-pack smart-phonish belt packs become popular. Maybe with wireless link to powered speakers. or some other sea change that allows streamlined production unheard of today.
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  27. #27
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Just print up an escutcheon panel for the given model.
    Not even "printing" , the front panel is a screen and shows what you want.
    Even scratches, rust and beer drippings if you wish :O

    You can dial up desired vintage and it shows anything, from shiny just out of the box to 30 years at a Punk rehearsal room
    They should just add a "% puke" control.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  28. #28
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    True. Currently we think of "screens" like on a smart phone - glass that can shatter. But they have had "e-paper" for years now, flexible sheets that display moving print. They make flexible circuit boards, like printed on mylar film. Not long before we can have amplifier control panels "printed" on flexible media. That would be faster and cheaper than rows of LEDs and other components surface soldered to a stiff board.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  29. #29
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    I remember the article explaining why Steve Jobs "downgraded" to glass screens.
    He showed up at a meeting, after a few minutes pulled the then current I Phone ... or a prototype, and showed them the scratched screen: "I have had this unprotected phone in my pocket for a week, together with keys and spare change, give me a solution for its problem"
    Famously, they asked Dow Corning for specially hard surface "unscratchable" glass screens.
    DC answered: "samples in a Month, full production as soon as possible, think 3 to 6 Months"
    A Chinese supplier sent many different samples in a week, and promised full production in 1 Month, what it would take them to build a dedicated plant just for Apple.
    Guess who won the contract.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Last Post: 08-29-2007, 12:41 AM

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