Europe pushes hard on electronics repairability, and more


Good morning! Flights from Europe to the US went from empty to dramatically overbooked, as people tried to rush home, the NBA is suspended, and I’m meant to fly to meet friends in the UK next weekend, but that’s going from mildly unlikely to banned pretty quickly.

The European Union’s European Commission (EC) has adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan as part of its ‘European Green Deal’. 
This is going to have a significant impact on many industries if implemented by the book, including on the tech industry and electronics:
  • Among a raft of strategies, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, noted: “..many products break down too easily, cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, or are made for single use only.”
  • “Value is lost when fully or partially functional products are discarded because they are not repairable, the battery cannot be replaced, the software is no longer supported, or materials incorporated in devices are not recovered,” reads an excerpt of the EU document.
  • The solution looks to be push companies to make batteries easier to replace, and have smartphones, tablets, and computers designed for “energy efficiency and durability, repairability, upgradability, maintenance, reuse and recycling.”
  •  Furthermore, the EU is pushing for ‘right to repair’ regulations, and aiming to ban software obsolescence.
Yes but when?
  • The EC is being careful to talk about pushes, urges, and actions, without including wording like rules, laws, or restrictions. Yet.
  • “The Commission is aiming to adopt new regulatory measures” is the main wording for electronics.
  • In essence, it’s too soon to say, for example, that Apple would be banned for selling an iPhone XS as we know it now, by 2021.
  • The plan does say: “The aim is to embed a “right to repair” in the EU consumer and product policies by 2021.”
  • What’s more likely, based on other EU actions, is a timeline to follow for better reporting, clearer labeling, and eventual restrictions within years, not months.
  • The plan also applies to textiles, plastics, construction and building, packaging, food, cars, and more.
  • Fairphone released a somewhat triumphant presser, stating “EU proposes to turn Fairphone's philosophy into legislation,” welcoming the plan and its approach.
Stay tuned for what’s next and what actually happens from the plan.
 

Round Up:

🔋 Torture test: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra battery life at 120Hz vs 60Hz (Android Authority).
🆕 Redmi Note 9 Pro, Pro Max launched in India: A lot for under $200 (Android Authority).
🔧 EU plan calls for easier phone repairs, right to repair and update ‘obsolete’ software (Android Authority).
🍎 New MacBook models with scissor-switch keyboards are reportedly coming soon (The Verge).
⌚ Apple tells retail employees not to offer AirPods or Apple Watch try-ons as coronavirus precaution (9to5Mac).
🍏 Apple Arcade is losing momentum (thegamer.com).
📺 How Google kneecapped Amazon’s smart TV efforts (protocol.com)
🕶 Desperate to exit, a $10B price tag for Magic Leap is crazy (TechCrunch).
💻 Microsoft Surface Pro X review: not yet ready for prime time. The Guardian certainly doesn’t rush its reviews out, but the later reviews confirm more of the same: great battery life, 4G is good, but just a complete lack of apps for its ARM chip, and not good value (The Guardian).
🔫 New: ‘Call of Duty's Warzone’ hits the Battle Royale sweet spot, racking up six million players in 24 hours (Wired).
🔙 E3 says it’ll be back in 2021: “We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media, and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.” (e3expo.com)
🐤 Twitter staff are working from home (TechCrunch).
💰 The UK’s new digital tax starts in April: a 2% tax on search engines, social media services, and online marketplaces with $650M annual revenue, £25M UK revenue (Protocol).
🚀 SpaceX could launch its first astronauts in under two months (CNET).
😷 “What are good inexpensive hobbies you can learn within...14 days?” (r/askreddit).

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