Apple facing massive $999 billion lawsuit since news broke they were slowing down iPhones
Last week, news broke that Apple had been deliberately allowing older iPhone models to slow down through iOS updates - a practice that is commonly described as planned obsolescence.
As any iPhone user will know, the smartphones don't tend to maintain their original high-speed functionality for very long, and usually have to be replaced after a matter of years because they become too slow to use. According to Apple, this is a necessary feature of the iPhone, as "Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components."
As a result, the company built their phones in a manner which prevents these shutdowns - but ends up slowing the phone over time as a result.
Sounds like a pretty disingenuous way of getting people to fork out hundreds of dollars for a new phone, right? Well, it is. And now Apple are facing a ton of lawsuits.
At least nine class-action lawsuits have been filed against the company across California, New York and Illinois, with people claiming that Apple's failure to disclose information about the phones forced them into making unnecessary - and expensive - purchases, rather than just replacing the battery.
The Illinois lawsuit implies that slowing the phones was deliberate and malicious, saying "Apple's decision to purposefully ... throttle down these devices was undertaken to fraudulently induce consumers to purchase the latest [iPhone model]".
Another of the suits is asking for $999billion (yes, billion), on the basis that users were essentially cheated out of their money by the technology giant. The lawsuit, which was filed by Violetta Mailyan in California, that “each member of the Class had to buy a newer iPhone model because the performance of their older iPhone model had slowed down as a result of Defendant’s purposeful conduct.”
Basically, what they did amounts to fraud - or, at the very least, misrepresentation - and millions of customers have been forced to pay out as a result.
And it's not as if Apple employees were mentioning the battery solution on a case-by-case basis, either. Kirk Pedelty, another plaintiff involved in the Illinois lawsuit, claims that he had directly contacted the company when his iPhone 7 began to slow - but nobody prompted him to change the battery.
"Nobody from Apple customer support suggested that he replace his battery to improve the performance of his iPhone," the lawsuit says. "Frustrated by slowdowns and intermittent shutdowns of his iPhone 7, Pedelty purchased an iPhone 8."
Clearly, in this case, the iPhone user was deliberately misled by omission, and could have saved a significant chunk of his paycheck if he had just been told to purchase a $10 battery replacement.
“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 who specializes in consumer technology law.
And, from what many complainants have said so far, that does seem to be the case.
Personally, I'm now on my third iPhone in about six years - and I definitely wouldn't have coughed up more than half my rent each time for a new one if I had known I could have just spent a few dollars on a new battery. I'd like to think that I'll see a little bit of that $999 billion coming my way very soon, but I won't hold out any hope.