Apple is facing multiple legal claims from people who have had their devices slowed.
They kept the reductions in performance secret and hidden in updates
Share price of Apple still at an all time high
There have always been suspicions that Apple was using software updates to slow iPhones and iPads. Some have continued to claim that Apple would send out an update to slow the unit a few months before they would launch a new device.
Only now that a class action lawsuit has been launch against Apple, have Apple confirmed that there is indeed software contained in updates that slow devices. Apple now state that they needed to slow devices to maintain battery life. This sounds like a reasonable explanation but when you look at other factors, it doesn’t ring true though. There are questions that need to be answered and Apple is going to struggle.
1) Why was in kept a secret for the last 10 years?
If the slowing of the devices was really about extending battery life, why are users only just hearing about it now? Why was this not published previously? Surely it would have been reasonable for users to have been aware this was going to happen and even given the option of declining to have their phone slowed.
2) How did Apple decide which devices to slow? Were they all done on age, batch numbers, version numbers? Some iPhone 5’s might be a year younger than others that were sold so it would be unfair to slow those if they didn’t have any symptoms of poor battery life. For Apple to come out of this with any credibility, they will need to show that they only slowed phones for devices that were displaying symptoms of battery issues.
3) Why have other manufacturers not slowed their devices? Most batteries have the same design and are made of the same materials. If Apple’s explanation is to hold much water, they could do with the likes of Samsung and others to say that they also slowed devices. That seems highly unlikely to happen.
4) Did Apple’s updates happen at points just before launches of new devices? One of the accusations is that they deliberately slowed devices so people would be forced to buy new ones. If a pattern can be shown, they will be in a bit of trouble.
All of these questions will need to be answered in a number of courts in several countries. If Apple has acted illegally, they may be forced to refund customers and face a severe penalty in countries like America where class action law suits can be highly punitive. Add that together with massive reputational damage and Apple may be in for a bit of a stormy future.
Apple are already losing market share with millions of previously loyal customers deciding to jump ship to Android. Mostly due to expensive and often outdated devices being launched.