Your conclusion doesn't follow soundly from the available facts here.
I don't know how to take your statement. They don't purposefully make products harder to repair for the sake of it, or just to annoy people, or for some grand strategy of "they'll buy more of it if they can't repair it", they make products harder to repair as a compromise for other features: weight, external dimensions, battery life, appearance, reliability, robustness. So in a sense it's purposeful, but as an unavoidable consequence. You may not need one or more of those features and favor repairability, but others than you may.
 People owning Apple products already buy new Apple products even if (and dare I say precisely because) their current device is not broken and has not fallen apart in the meantime. My current machine is a mid-'09 MBP and is going strong, and I bought it after a '07 15" MBP that I sold (for a good price precisely because it looked like new by any measure) to go more mobile and even more robust (this unibody really is strong). Both of them proved easily upgradeable, the newer one even more than the old one. I suspect Thinkpad owners could tell similar stories, whereas I have only horror stories to share about the five other PC laptops I owned before during the three years before I went Apple (FWIW IBM/Lenovo was on my shopping list along with Apple, and I had to choose one)
It's obvious that most of Apple's decisions that make their devices less repairable come with aesthetic and practical gains, but the use of uncommon screws is not in that category. The most favorable explanation I can think of is that it was intended to signal to a certain class of users who were used to being able to partially disassemble laptops to make certain kinds of repairs and upgrades that it was no longer practical to do so.
I only partly agree on that one either. Torx is easy to manufacture at big sizes but its thin-winged star shape is brittle and harder to produce at smaller sizes. Comparatively, pentalobe screws are trivial to machine. Also, it's quite easy with a little tooling to create your own pentalobe (some Torx actually just work) or tri-wing screwdriver, and I bet Apple had no doubt someone would come up with a manufactured one in a very short timespan. That was exactly the case with Torx some years ago, then TorxSec then TorxPlus.
> it was intended to signal to a certain class of users who were used to being able to partially disassemble laptops to make certain kinds of repairs and upgrades that it was no longer practical to do so.
The class of users that routinely open devices to upgrade them knows to use appropriate tooling, and that if different, they will be available shortly for a ridiculously low price. If anything, it signals Joe Random that he's not to open this with the point of a knife (especially near a LiPo battery).
From iFixIt, re MBA 11" :
> Once you manage to take off the bottom cover, all the parts are pretty easily replaceable. (i.e for a laptop that's RAM and mass storage, plus soldered CPU, but I did not hear about someone swapping CPUs in any laptop lately)
They rated it 4 because the parts are non-standard, and because of pentalobe on the case. They even laud some design choices specifically for repairability like the heat sink.
Again iFixIt, from the MBP r15" display teardown, regarding hinge+cable assembly:
> Don't think that the guys (and gals) who designed this machine are just out to get you. Routing the cables through the hinge is a way to save space and weight in the laptop.
If you want a real point of concern, the strongly glued batteries over the trackpad cable thing is absolutely bewildering (while the whole device is supposed to last forever, batteries are not, so how are Geniuses supposed to fix those?) and really does not fit in the picture. I loathe glue.
I'll have to take your word for that, because I don't know enough about screw and driver manufacturing to comment. Tri-wing looks less likely to have any advantage other than discouraging disassembly.
I'm sure Apple knew this wouldn't stop anybody very determined from working on a Mac, but it still causes a problem for someone like me. I don't fix hardware professionally, but I'm the person my friends usually come to when they have issues. I don't have a pentalobe or tri-wing screwdriver; I'd have to order them, and I would, but it would be a significant inconvenience.
It's the attitude that bothers me. It feels as if Apple is trying to retain control over the device after the customer buys it. I'm your Joe Random, and I'm offended.
I did not hear about someone swapping CPUs in any laptop lately
The Thinkpad T530, to give an example still uses a ZIF socket. CPU replacement is on page 93 of the Hardware Maintenance Manual, which Lenovo makes freely available on its website. This should be a shining example to all.
To be clear I didn't mean that non-soldered CPU, ZIF equipped laptops don't exist anymore, but that people actually upgrading/fixing their CPU is by and large an extremely rare occurrence, while RAM and mass storage are much, much more prone to upgrade/fixing. I would personally not consider a soldered CPU a problem, especially given that most of the time if anything goes wrong in such areas, it's a blown capacitor or a bad plug assembly/soldering on the motherboard that gives in.