Say you buy an appliance, it lasts through the warranty period, but then a little while afterward it breaks. Happens all the time, right? So you call the company you bought it from, and they say, "Of course we'll fix it! But since it's out of warranty, there will be a significant repair charge..." and then name a gigantic figure.
"Feh!" you say. "I'll just fix it myself." So you go to buy parts and... can't, because the manufacturer controls production of repair parts and will only sell to their licensed techs. So you go to a junkyard, find a suitably similar model, strip out the parts you need, and go to repair the appliance -- only to discover, after you've installed the replacement parts, that you can't reset the equipment to operate with the new parts without a password encoded into the electronics by the manufacturer. Will they give it to you? No, but you're still free to bring the appliance in to be serviced -- for the original extravagant quote.
That's what this article is about.
Failing this, I wonder if there would be a sufficient market for manufacturers of goods that didn't do these things. I like being able to fix my own cars, motorcycles, stoves, and things like that. Partially, I just like to maximize my independence as a human being. Increasingly, though, that means sticking to really old objects. My truck is twenty years old, but I can fix most things on it if they break. I can also modify it if I want it to work a little differently.
For a certain percentage of people, that's a major thing we really want from a product. If I buy it, I want to own it. I don't want to lease use of it, with an obligation to return to you for repairs and a prohibition against modifying it. I don't want to find out that it has some secret components in it designed to make sure the seller retains ownership over some core critical function. I want to own the things I buy.
These days, that mostly means buying old stuff that was made before the current craze at retaining hidden control over end-users. I wonder if there's enough demand that there would be a market for manufacturers to cater to us.