As farming has become more technology-driven, Deere has increasingly injected software into its products with all of its tractors and harvesters now including an autopilot feature as standard.
There is also the John Deere Operations Center, which “instantly captures vital operational data to boost transparency and increase productivity for your business.”
Within a matter of years, the company envisages having 1.5 million machines and half a billion acres of land connected to the cloud service, which will “collect and store crop data, including millions of images of weeds that can be targeted by herbicide.”
Deere also estimates that software fees will make up 10 percent of the company’s revenues by the end of the decade, with Bernstein analysts pegging the average gross margin for farming software at 85 percent, compared to 25 percent for equipment sales.
Just like other commercial software vendors, however, Deere exercises close control and restricts what can be done with its products. This led farm labor advocacy groups to file a complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission last year, claiming that Deere unlawfully refused to provide the software and technical data necessary to repair its machinery.
“Deere is the dominant force in the $68 billion US agricultural equipment market, controlling over 50 per cent of the market for large tractors and combines,” said Fairmark Partners, the groups’ attorneys, in a preface to the complaint [PDF].
“For many farmers and ranchers, they effectively have no choice but to purchase their equipment from Deere. Not satisfied with dominating just the market for equipment, Deere has sought to leverage its power in that market to monopolize the market for repairs of that equipment, to the detriment of farmers, ranchers, and independent repair providers.”
The MoU, which can be read here [PDF], was signed yesterday at the 2023 AFBF Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and seems to be a commitment by Deere to improve farmers’ access and choice when it comes to repairs.
Duvall said on a podcast about the matter that the MoU is the result of several years’ work. “As you use equipment, we all know at some point in time, there’s going to be problems with it. And we did have problems with having the opportunity to repair our equipment where we wanted to, or even repair it on the farm,” he added.
“It ensures that our farmers can repair their equipment and have access to the diagnostic tools and product guides so that they can find the problems and find solutions for them. And this is the beginning of a process that we think is going to be real healthy for our farmers and for the company because what it does is it sets up an opportunity for our farmers to really work with John Deere on a personal basis.”
Source: John Deere signs right to repair agreement • The Register
But… still gives John Deere access to their data for free?
This may also have something to do with the security of John Deere machines being so incredibly piss poor, mainly due to really bad update hygiene