Woz is throwing his weight behind the “right to repair” movement.
Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak, known in the tech world by his nickname, spoke out on the issue during a recent appearance on Cameo, a website that lets fans pay celebrities for video messages.
In a post to Louis Rossmann, a YouTube personality and a right-to-repair advocate, Wozniak said that he was “totally supportive” of the cause — which gives consumers the right and information to fix their own devices — and somewhat “emotionally” affected by it.
“I do a lot of Cameos, but this one has really gotten to me,” he said in the nine-minute video. “We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world.”
The right to repair movement has gained ground lately. In the United Kingdom, new measures have been introduced to require manufacturers of televisions, washing machines and refrigerators to provide spare parts to consumers.
In the United States, at least 27 states have deliberated legislation related to the topic this year, according to US PIRG, a coalition of state-based public interest research groups.
The White House has also weighed in, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki noting this week that the US Department of Agriculture was looking into giving “farmers the right to repair their own equipment.”
Wozniak, for his part, shared how he had learned to build and modify his own devices from a young age, including with a ham radio license at 10 years old.
“Back then, when you bought electronic things like TVs and radios, every bit of the circuits and designs were included on paper. Total open source,” he said.
“If you know what you’re doing … you could repair a lot of things at low cost. But it’s even more precious to know that you did it yourself.”
Wozniak, who co-founded Apple 45 years ago with Steve Jobs, said that enabling others to retool their devices also has commercial value. He pointed to the success of the Apple II computer, which he said was “modifiable and extendable to the maximum” and the “only source” of profit for Apple during its first years.
“It was not … successful on pure luck,” he added. “There were a lot of good things about that being so open that everyone could join the party.”
Wozniak’s comments come as Apple — the company he left as an active employee in 1985 — has long faced criticism over policies that restrict where its customers can get their iPhones and other electronics fixed without jeopardizing their warranties.
The company used to only allow its authorized service providers to receive authentic Apple parts and other materials needed to make fixes. That changed in 2019, when the company expanded the number of repair businesses it officially recognized.
But “I believe that companies [still] inhibit it because it gives the companies power, control over everything,” said Wozniak.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It’s time to start doing the right things,” Wozniak said in his message. “It’s time to recognize the right to repair more fully.”
— Haley Burton contributed to this report.