Sat, Dec 30, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Apple apologizes after outcry over slowed iPhones

DENIALS:Facing lawsuits in the US and France, Apple moved quickly to address concerns about its dubious intentions as it charges US$999 for its flagship iPhone X


Facing lawsuits and consumer outrage after it said it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Apple Inc is slashing prices for battery replacements and plans to change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good.

In a posting on its Web site on Thursday, Apple apologized over its handling of the battery issue and said it would make a number of changes for customers “to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who might have doubted Apple’s intentions.”

Apple made the move to address concerns about the quality and durability of its products at a time when it is charging US$999 for its newest flagship model, the iPhone X.

The company would cut the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement from US$79 to US$29 for an iPhone 6 or later, starting next month, it said, adding that it would also update its iOS operating system to let users see whether their battery is in poor health and is affecting the phone’s performance.

“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” Apple said in its posting. “We apologize.”

Apple on Wednesday last week acknowledged that iPhone software has the effect of slowing down some phones with battery problems.

The problem was that aging lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shutdown unexpectedly to protect the delicate circuits inside, Apple said.

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 the states of 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.

French prosecutors have launched a probe into Japanese printer maker Epson Inc for alleged planned obsolescence in its products, using landmark consumer legislation that campaigners hope to turn against Apple as well.

The investigation, confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) by a legal source on Thursday, was last month opened and is being led by antitrust and consumer protection specialists in the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance under the instruction of prosecutors in the Nanterre suburb of Paris.

It comes after a complaint by the association Stop Planned Obsolescence (Halte a l’Obsolescence Programmee), which filed a case against printer makers Epson, HP Inc, Brother International Corp and Canon Inc in September alleging they were tricking consumers into replacing ink cartridges before they were empty.

The group on Wednesday filed a separate complaint against Apple.

To tackle the problem of planned obsolescence, France passed landmark legislation in 2015 known as “Hamon’s law,” which made the practice illegal and — in theory — obliged retailers to say whether replacement parts were available.

The law, named after former socialist minister Benoit Hamon, stipulates that a company found to be deliberately shortening the life of its products can be fined up to 5 percent of its annual sales, while executives can face up to two years in jail.

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