Apple Investigated by French Government over ‘Planned Obsolescence’

The Associated Press

Apple is reportedly under investigation by the French government over claims that the company purposefully slowed down older iPhone models.

BBC News reports that Apple is being investigated by French authorities over claims that the company purposefully slowed down older iPhone models. Under French law, it’s illegal to intentionally shorten the lifespan of products in order to make customers purchase newer models as replacements. Apple admitted in December that software updates to older iPhone models did cause a degradation in performance, but the company insisted that this was due to the phone’s battery performance diminishing over time.

Now, the French Economy Ministry’s consumer protection agency is investigating the company following a legal complaint filed by the pro-consumer activist group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop) in December. The group stated that France would be the third country to investigate Apple’s software update slowdowns after Israel and the United States. If Apple is found guilty of planned obsolescence, it could face a number of punishments from the French government including a five percent penalty on their annual revenue in the country, or in a more extreme case, a jail term.

Stop Planned Obsolescence believes that Apple deliberately slowed down older iPhone models through software updates and specifically timed the updates to take place around the release of newer models such as the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The group said in a statement, “The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model.” Hop has filed complaints against other companies in the French market such as printer manufacturers Epson, Canon, HP, and Brother. In that case, Hop claimed that the manufacturers were purposefully shortening the lifespan of their print cartridges, forcing customers to buy more.

In a statement on the alleged slowdown of older models Apple said, “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands… as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.” They continued to say that the update was done “to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed.” In response to public outrage over the slowdown, Apple cut the price they charge to replace older model iPhone batteries by two thirds and promised to be more transparent about updates in the future.

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