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Google Rolls Out DIY Chromebook Repair Program for Schools

Google has launched a new Chromebook repair program designed to help students and school systems get their broken laptops up and running again. On the website supporting the program, schools can find which Chromebooks have commonly repaired components, like the keyboard, display and palm rest. In addition, there are online manufacturer guides that show how to repair the devices, find tools to safely fix them, get replacement parts, find training and get system update access if needed.

John Solomon, Google’s vice president for Chrome OS, explained the rationale behind the new program in a company blog. “Many Chromebooks have been repairable for years, with some repairs already covered under system warranties and managed by authorized service providers,” he wrote. “But it’s been challenging for school IT administrators to find information about which devices they can repair.” With its repair program, Google joins the ranks of Chromebook makers who have launched their own training initiatives to assist schools in performing repairs.

Some schools are even offering elective courses in Chromebook repair, Solomon noted. “In-school programs like these are not only eco-friendly, they can significantly reduce turnaround time, save on costs and help students learn valuable skills,” he added.

Unusual Move

Google and its Chromebook’s partners’ support of do-it-yourself repairs is a bit of a departure from the practices of some makers of consumer electronics.

“Google’s effort is certainly unusual, especially compared to smartphone vendors,” observed Charles King, the principal analyst with Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, Calif.

“It’s also somewhat ironic when you consider how commonplace it is for users, especially gamers, to build, customize and maintain their own systems,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Electronics makers typically frown on do-it-yourselfers because they can cause more problems than they solve, added Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“Google’s approach attempts to train the folks who will do the work, but I expect they’ll find the results very uneven,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Some folks are good at this, others not so much.”

Throwback Approach

Google’s program is a bit of a throwback to the old days of computing, noted Ross Rubin, the principal analyst with Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“In the early days of the PC, it was very easy to swap out components,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Then as laptops became thinner, there was more of a focus on tight integration that came at the expense of repairability.”

However, PC makers are starting to pay more attention to repairs and upgrades, he added.

“Now we have products such as the Framework laptop which allows every component to be easily replaced or upgraded, and Dell has shown off a concept device in the same vein,” Rubin noted.

“If you were to look at these devices without knowing it, they look like any other laptop.”

“It’s not just about repairability but upgradability, which also contributes to a longer life for the device,” he added.

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