Germany has asked the European Union to require Apple, Samsung, and other phone makers to provide software updates and replacement parts for seven years.
If that sounds far-fetched given the current restrictions on both, consider this: The EU’s European Commission has separately proposed that phone makers should have to provide software updates for five years and replacement parts—at “reasonable prices”—for up to six years. Germany apparently doesn’t think that that proposal goes far enough.
This is all about the impact of phone manufacturing on the environment. Both European proposals both aim to help the environment by keeping existing devices in use, and out of landfills, for longer periods of time; even when devices are recycled, only some of their raw materials can be reused. But if phone makers support their devices with functional updates for three years and security updates for five years, users will be less likely to upgrade quickly. And by expanding consumers’ rights to repair their devices, they will likewise use them for a longer period of time, at least in general.
“The useful life of mobile phones is 2.5 to 3.5 years and is therefore rather short compared to other consumer goods,” the EC notes of its own proposal.
The EC is also looking at requiring handset makers to deliver parts for repairs within 5 days as a hedge against them just exchanging a broken device for another device. It would also like to require hardware makers to transparently publish repair fees, and allow third-party repairs, and it is looking at an energy label for consumer electronics that would grade them on energy efficiency and battery endurance.
News of Germany’s proposal was first reported by Heise Online.