iFixit, Activation Lock, and Walt Mossberg

First things first, take a look at this article from iFixit, provocatively titled, Apple’s Activation Lock Will Make It Very Difficult to Refurbish Macs.

Every month, thousands of perfectly good iPhones are shredded instead of being put into the hands of people who could really use them. Why? Two words: Activation Lock. And Macs are its next victim.

“We receive four to six thousand locked iPhones per month,” laments Peter Schindler, founder and owner of The Wireless Alliance, a Colorado-based electronics recycler and refurbisher. Those iPhones, which could easily be refurbished and put back into circulation, “have to get parted out or scrapped,” all because of this anti-theft feature.

That’s an astonishing number. Four to six thousand locked iPhone a month? Wow!

My immediate reaction was, where do these phones come from? How is it possible that so many people didn’t take the time to wipe/unlock their phones before they turned them in. Just wondering what percentage of these phones are stolen.

From the article:

“People don’t realize that if you don’t properly reset your device, that phone is effectively bricked once you send it to me,” Schindler explains. “They’re just not thinking through the steps, or don’t connect the fact that [Find My iPhone] is a permanent, neverending lock on the phone. They think, ‘Oh, well, I turned the phone off, Find My iPhone must be turned off too.’ They don’t associate it with bricking the phone.”

And that leads to this comment from Walt Mossberg:

My two cents: Activation Lock is not the villain here. Lack of education is the villain.

If the recycling company made unlocking the phone part of the process of accepting a phone, this would be a non-issue. Every link in the chain of getting the phone from the user to the recycler needs to push this back up the chain, make sure every phone that leaves a user’s hands is unlocked, as a matter of course.