Apple Smacks iFixit With Banhammer Following Unauthorized Apple TV Teardown

As we can attest, it's important to maintain relationships in the tech media industry, otherwise it's a lonely and difficult road. That doesn't mean giving companies special treatment, but it does entail respecting things like non disclosure agreements (NDAs). The folks at iFixIt didn't do that with regards to the recently announced fourth generation Apple TV box and now they're paying the price.

What happened is iFixIt secured an Apple TV dev kit, which is a pre-release model intended to give developers a chance to build and test their apps on the new model before it becomes publicly available. iFixIt then proceeded to disassemble the set-top box and post a teardown analysis on its blog. Cool stuff, only iFixIt jumped the gun.

Apple TV

"We’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA—and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway," iFixIt explains in a blog post.

Fast forward a few days and iFixIt received a letter from Apple stating its developer account had been banned for violating the company's terms and conditions. That also meant the removal of iFixIt's app, a robust repair manual for an assortment of devices, from the App Store since it was tied to iFixIt's banned developer account.

Apparently the app was outdated anyway. On top of that, "iOS 9 introduced some major bugs into the system" and "fixing them would require a substantial rewrite to a bunch of iOS 4-era code," so iFixIt isn't sweating the ban. Rather than attempt to rewrite it, iFixIt's focusing its efforts on its mobile website where users can access repair guides and receiving troubleshooting help.

iFixIt App
iFixIt's mobile app is still available for Android devices on Google Play

If someone else wants to try and rebuild iFixIt's open source app, the company says go for it, "just respect our license and don't put ads in it."

The request is a little ironic given that iFixIt didn't respect Apple's terms and conditions, but it is what it is. We're sure that from iFixIt's perspective, Apple decision is petty. Maybe it is to some extent, but when you "blithely" ignore an agreement, there are usually consequences, and unfortunately in this case the users who would benefit from iFixIt's app on iOS also suffer them.

We're big fans of iFixIt's work, hence why we've brought attention to several of the company's teardowns through the years. We'll continue to do so -- theirs is a valuable service to the DIY community, especially since company's like Apple sometimes go to great effort to keep consumers from opening up their devices. But if there's a lesson here, it's that you have to follow the rules for the greater good, even if you think those rules stink.

"Live and learn," as iFixIt states.