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Apple iPhone slowdown: French prosecutors to investigate Apple over 'planned obsolescence'

Apple could face a penalty of up to 5 percent of its annual revenue and its executives could even face a jail term.

  • Published: January 9, 2018 12:59 PM IST
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Apple confirmed last month that it does slow down performance of older iPhone in order to prevent unexpected shutdown. The company detailed that it introduced a battery management feature as part of iOS update last year that limited older iPhone from hitting peak performance.

Apple also offered a public apology in a letter addressed to customers and confirmed that it does not intentionally slow down devices or aims to drive iPhone upgrade by limiting performance. In a statement, it confirmed limiting performance of iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE with the release of iOS 11.2 update. The update was being rolled out as a security update and did not disclose the battery management feature that was offered as part of the update. Since then, Apple has extended the feature to newer models such as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

The confirmation came after Primate Labs’ John Poole demonstrated how Apple throttles performance of old iPhone and limits their performance. The Cupertino-based iPhone maker was immediately hit with five class action lawsuits where iPhone users argued that Apple violated the trust of its consumers by not disclosing the feature that it seeded to iPhones as part of iOS update.

Now, BBC reports that French prosecutors have launched a probe against Apple over allegations of “planned obsolescence” in iPhone. Under French law, it is a crime to curtail performance with the aim of driving product upgrades. The investigation is being led by the consumer protection agency, which is part of France’s economy ministry after a legal complaint was filed by pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence in December.

France is the third country after Israel and the US to investigate Apple’s move and it will be termed as a crime in the country. Apple could be penalized with up to 5 percent of annual turnover and some reports suggest that its executive could even face jail term.

“The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model,” the group said.

Apple iPhone users have long complained that their iPhone models see drop in performance and the company is forcing old iPhone users to upgrade to a newer model by making their older models run slower. While this notion has been dismissed as a conspiracy theory, Apple’s confirmation led to backlash against the company even from its die-hard fans.

Apple maintains that the update was meant to extend the battery life and “to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed.”

Apple says replacing battery of old models will restore battery life by nearly 70 percent and has slashed price from $79 to $29. In India, the battery replacement will be available at Rs 2,000 plus taxes but it will be up to prosecutors to determine whether Apple’s intent was to help its customers or drive iPhone upgrades.

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  • Published Date: January 9, 2018 12:59 PM IST