France has settled an out of court dispute with Apple over a software update that slowed down older iPhones. The tech company was fined €25 million, $27.3 million, for misleading customers into buying new apple devices by pushing a software update that would make older iPhones less user-friendly.
In 2016, Apple began releasing software updates for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, and iPhone 7 with the stated purpose that it would deal with battery issues in batteries that were old, cold, or low powered. The feature also considerably slowed down the phones. This caused many users to buy an entirely new device when the problem could’ve been solved just by replacing the battery. Although Apple denies the claims, numerous countries have accused this as being an intentional marketing technique.
Consumer watchdogs claim iPhone owners should’ve been told that updating their software would slow down their usage. France fined Apple on the grounds of “deceptive commercial practice[s] by omission”. Italy fined Apple €5 million, around $5.5 million, over the same issue. The Department of Justice is also conducting an investigation.
Three years ago, when it was first revealed Apple was throttling speeds, the company was forced to lower the price of its batteries by $50. This sparked 10 times more people to buy new batteries for their old iPhones than before the new broke and the price changed. This indicates that many iPhone owners probably wouldn’t have opted to buy new phones had the information and hardware been more readily available.
The tech giant has been accused of using aggressive marketing schemes before. There have been suspicions that their products are built to fail frequently, which is damaging to consumers and the environment. The company has repeatedly tried to distance themselves from these claims. Apple most likely agreed to pay the large fine in order to avoid the bad PR that would accompany a trial.