Last week, the _Wall Street Journal_reported that the next iPhone will have some significant changes. The report notes that the next iPhone will not have a home button and will instead be made of a single piece of glass, a long-rumored and seemingly inconsequential move that is in fact central to an ongoing and hugely important legislative struggle between America's largest company and thousands of independent smartphone repair shops.
Moving the Touch ID fingerprint-reading sensor from the home button into the screen itself will have the side effect of giving Apple a straightforward path to monopolizing screen repair. The move could give Apple unprecedented control over the ownership and repairability of your phone, which means that in the very near future, it's possible that the only company that will be able to do a simple iPhone screen replacement will be Apple itself.
If the Wall Street Journal report is true (similar things have been reported by Bloomberg and featureless, buttonless fingerprint-reading technology has been patented by Apple), the development could hurt thousands of independent smartphone repair companies around the United States, and it threatens the very concept of phone ownership. The move would combine the only part of the iPhone that can currently only be replaced by Apple (the Touch ID sensor) and the most often broken part of the iPhone (the screen) into one part.
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