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Slow motion iPhone will cost Apple a fine of 25 million euros in France. The Fraud Branch considers that Apple has engaged in a “deceptive marketing practice by omission” by restricting certain iPhone models without the users’ knowledge. On the other hand, the legal qualification of programmed obsolescence has not been retained.

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An iPhone 5S / Credits: Pixabay

The case dates back to 2017. At the time, many iPhone 6, 6S, SE and 7 users began to experience slowdowns in their devices due to an operating software update. The update took place shortly before the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Probably prompting a number of users to switch smartphones. But the situation very quickly turned into a scandal when Apple admitted that it was doing this voluntarily, without the users’ knowledge, supposedly to protect the iPhone whose battery had to be replaced.

In the face of the outcry, the firm was quickly confused into an apology. Apple then launched a program to replace the battery of affected iPhones for only 29 euros. And iOS also provides an option in the settings to enable or disable this performance lock. But these measures did not prevent the association Halte à l’obsolescence programmée (HOP) from filing a complaint with the Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF).

Settlement avoids a trial for programmed obsolescence

The authority has just given its verdict this Friday, February 7, 2020:“following an investigation by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) and after approval by the Public Prosecutor of Paris, the Apple group has agreed to pay a fine of €25 million as part of a criminal transaction”, explains the DGCCRF on its website.

The DGCCRF has shown that some iPhone owners have not been informed that updates to the iOS operating system (10.2.1 and 11.2) they are installing are likely to slow down the operation of their device”. Apple will also have to publish “for one month, a press release on its website”.

The association Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP), which is at the origin of the complaint, is delighted with the DGCCRF’s decision: “it is a first historic victory against scandalous ready-to-throw practices, both for consumers and for the environment”, explain Letitia Vasseur and Samuel Sauvage, co-founders of the HOP association, in a press release. However, the association regrets“that the procedure used, namely the penal transaction, deprives consumers of a public trial on planned obsolescence”.

HOP is asking the victims of restraint to use this form on their website:” according to the association’s lawyer, Me Emile Meunier, this condemnation opens the way to claims for damages by the injured clients. HOP thus reserves the right to accompany the plaintiffs in their action and calls on them to come forward”, explains the association.

Source : DGCCRF, HOP