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iFixit, Microsoft Launch Device Repair Resource

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The Pro Tech Network is intended to help launch thousands of new device repair businesses

iFixit and Microsoft have unveiled an online resource for electronics repair that they said is intended to help launch thousands of new businesses around the world.

The Pro Tech Network, sponsored by the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program (RRP) and with iFixit content ranging from repair guides to business tips, is aimed at helping extend the usable life of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, the companies said.

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Mobile challenge

“The explosion of mobile devices means the refurbishment industry will need new knowledge, tools, and techniques to meet new challenges,” said iFixit’s director of marketing, Jeff Snyder, in a blog post. “The Pro Tech Network helps people learn to repair PCs, smartphones and tablets — and create businesses with these skills.”

The resource could also help in the recovery and reuse of the rare materials found in electronic devices, according to Microsoft group manager for environmental sustainability Josh Henretig.

“With mobile electronics containing valuable and often scarce resources, including copper, gold, lead, zinc, beryllium, tantalum and coltan, they represent a large materials resource that can be ‘mined’ by recycling them to help build the next generation of devices,” he said in a separate post.

Aside from repair manuals, the site also includes training documentation in the fundamentals of repair skills, information on sourcing parts, testing and business resources such as accounting tools, marketing tips and customer service best practices.

Community-generated documentation

iFixit, launched in 2003, provides community-generated repair documentation and regularly ranks new devices on their “repairability”. Microsoft RRP, for its part, was originally launched to provide refurbished PCs to schools and non-profit organisations, and now works with thousands of organisations around the world, helping families and small businesses get access to Windows PCs.

The service could help reduce the waste generated by the disposability of many current devices, Microsoft said.

“Some studies have suggested that you would need to use a tablet or phone for tens of years before the usage footprint was larger than the manufacturing footprint,” Henretig wrote. “With this in mind, anything that can be done to extend the life of these smaller, low-power devices can have a positive environmental benefit.”

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