FILE PHOTO – A salesman checks a customer’s iPhone at a mobile phone store in New Delhi, India, July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File photo
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) defrauded iPhone users by slowing devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance, according to eight lawsuits filed in various federal courts in the week since the company opened up about the year-old software change.
The tweak may have led iPhone owners to misguided attempts to resolve issues over the last year, the lawsuits contend.
All the lawsuits – filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois – seek class-action to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners nationwide.
A similar case was lodged in an Israeli court on Monday, the newspaper Haaretz reported.
Apple did not respond to an email seeking comment on the filings.
The company acknowledged last week for the first time in detail that operating system updates released since “last year” for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that are cold, old or low on charge.
Phones without the adjustment would shut down abruptly because of a precaution designed to prevent components from getting fried, Apple said.
The disclosure followed a Dec. 18 analysis by Primate Labs, which develops an iPhone performance measuring app, that identified blips in processing speed and concluded that a software change had to be behind them.
One of the lawsuits, filed Thursday in San Francisco, said that “the batteries’ inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds” without the software patch was a defect.
“Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiff in that case is represented by attorney Jeffrey Fazio, who represented plaintiffs in a $53-million settlement with Apple in 2013 over its handling of iPhone warranty claims.
The problem now seen is that users over the last year could have blamed an aging computer processor for app crashes and sluggish performance – and chose to buy a new phone – when the true cause may have been a weak battery that could have been replaced for a fraction of the cost, some of the lawsuits state.
“If it turns out that consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,” said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law.
But Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said in an email that Apple may not have done wrong.
“We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms” around aging products, Hoofnagle said. Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, “the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.”
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages in addition to, in some cases, reimbursement. A couple of the complaints seek court orders barring Apple from throttling iPhone computer speeds or requiring notification in future instances.
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler
Amazon joins $1 trillion club
Amazon logo. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday joined Apple Inc. in the $1 trillion club, becoming the second member of the group after its stock price doubled in 15 months.
If the online retailer’s share price continues at its recent pace, it will be a matter of when not if, Amazon’s market valuation eclipses that of iPhone maker Apple, which reached $1 trillion on Aug. 2.
Apple took almost 38 years as a public company to achieve the trillion dollar milestone, while Amazon got there in 21 years. While Apple’s iPhone and other devices remain popular and its revenues are growing, it is not keeping up with Amazon’s blistering sales growth.
Amazon has impressed investors by successfully diversifying its business into virtually every corner of the retail industry, altering how consumers buy products and putting major pressure on many brick-and-mortar stores. It also provides video streaming services and bought upscale supermarket Whole Foods. And its cloud computing services for companies have become a major driver of earnings and revenue. — Reuters
Turks divided over President Erdogan calls for U.S. electronics boycott
iPhone 7 smartphone | REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Turks expressed differing opinions on Tuesday (August 14) after President Tayyip Erdogan called on the nation to boycott electronic products from the United States, particularly iPhones, retaliating in a dispute with Washington that has helped drive the lira to record lows.
Hours after Erdogan‘s call, iPhone user Ayse Orga bought a new phone for herself at a bazaar selling electronics. Shopkeeper Umit Yilmaz voiced support for Orga.
“I have a 16-year-old daughter. Take her iPhone away from her, if you can,” Yilmaz said.
Another shopkeeper, Arif Simsek disagreed.
“We fully support this decision. We supported him with our lives on July 15 and now we will support him with our goods,” Simsek said, referring to the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
The lira has lost more than 40 percent this year and crashed to an all-time low of 7.24 to the dollar early on Monday (August 13), hit by worries over Erdogan‘s calls for lower interest rates and worsening ties with the United States.
The weakness of the Turkish currency has rippled through global markets. Its drop of as much as 18 percent on Friday (August 10) hit U.S. and European stocks as investors fretted about banks’ exposure to Turkey.
Erdogan says Turkey is the target of an economic war and has made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the national currency. — Reuters
Apple apologizes after outcry over slowed iPhones
FILE PHOTO: Apple CEO Tim Cook stands in front of a screen displaying the IPhone 6 during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo
(Reuters) – Facing lawsuits and consumer outrage after it said it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Apple Inc is slashing prices for battery replacements and will change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good.
“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” Apple said in its posting. “We apologize.”
On Dec. 20, Apple acknowledged that iPhone software has the effect of slowing down some phones with battery problems. Apple said the problem was that aging lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shutdown unexpectedly to protect the delicate circuits inside.
That disclosure played on a common belief among consumers that Apple purposely slows down older phones to encourage customers to buy newer iPhone models. While no credible evidence has ever emerged that Apple engaged in such conduct, the battery disclosure struck a nerve on social media and elsewhere.
Apple on Thursday denied that it has ever done anything to intentionally shorten the life of a product.
At least eight lawsuits have been filed in California, New York and Illinois alleging that the company defrauded users by slowing devices down without warning them. The company also faces a legal complaint in France, where so-called “planned obsolesce” is against the law.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Andrew Hay