updated 11:55 am EST, Thu January 20, 2011
May prevent user, third-party repairs
Apple is switching to a new kind of screw across its product lines, claims iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. The company is specifically said to be migrating to a special "Pentalobe" screw, for instance replacing the Phillips screws used in earlier shipments of the iPhone 4. This creates a serious problem, Wiens suggests, as the screwdrivers needed to remove Pentalobes are not easy to buy, effectively blocking people from doing their own repairs or having a third-party company handle it.
Wiens argues that Apple's goal is to prevent tampering with its products, also artificially inflating their rate of obsolescence. As evidence he notes that the Pentalobes are only used "at the bulwark," for example on the outside cases of the iPhone or MacBook Air, or for the battery of the MacBook Pro. Apple Store technicians are in fact said to be replacing Phillips screws with Pentalobes if a device is taken in for service, although in some cases they are allegedly "ashamed" of having to do so.
To capitalize, iFixit is selling a kit for the iPhone 4 including Pentalobe and Phillips screwdrivers as well as a set of replacement Phillips screws. Apple is known to be extremely concerned with tampering in its products. Water sensors inside its devices are, in some cases, used to deny warranty repairs.