An Italian government agency has found that Apple and Samsung intentionally slowed older smartphones in order to induce customers to buy newer models. As Samuel Gibbs reported for the Guardian in October 2018, the Italian government’s antitrust agency fined Apple approximately $11.4 million and Samsung approx. $5.7 million for the “planned obsolescence” of their smartphones. The Guardian reported that the ruling is believed to be the first of its kind against smartphone manufacturers. Similar investigations are pending in France and the United States.
In a statement announcing its fines, the Italian antitrust watchdog said that Apple and Samsung “implemented dishonest commercial practices” and that operating system updates “caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones’ substitution.”
Apple had previously acknowledged that newer iOS software slows the performance of older iPhones. (iOS is Apple’s proprietary mobile operating system.) The company said that newer iOS software slowed older devices in order to counteract problems found in aging lithium-ion batteries. Apple has faced multiple lawsuits after it emerged that the company had been limiting the performance of some older models of its iPhone, without informing consumers.
At the time of its report, the Guardian noted that a similar investigation in France was ongoing, while in the United States a lawsuit against Apple, comprising more than 60 separate class-action cases from around the country, was underway in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Source: Samuel Gibbs, “Apple and Samsung Fined for Deliberately Slowing Down Phones, Guardian, October 24, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/24/apple-samsung-fined-for-slowing-down-phones.
Student Researcher: Ricardo Arenas (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Juan Carlos Ortiz Cortes (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)