Apple claims that it was necessary for Apple to slow down the phones due to aging batteries that would unexpectedly cause the devices to shut down. Many Apple users took to twitter and other social media platforms to express their outrage. They simply did not believe Apple’s explanation. Many suspected that Apple used the slowdown to encourage iPhone users with older models to purchase newer phones from the company. At least, two different class action lawsuits were filed, one in California and one in Illinois.
The lawsuit in filed on December 21 in Illinois states that the “phones were engineered to purposefully slow down or ‘throttle down’ the performance speeds.” This “needlessly subjects consumers to purchasing newer and more expensive iPhones when a replacement battery could have allowed consumers to continue to use their older iPhones.” The attorneys are hoping to include any consumers who bought a phone older than the iPhone 8 model in their suit. With most Americans having either an apple or a google smartphone, the potential number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit would be enormous. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans own some model of the iPhone.
Some users were calling for a warning screen, similar to others that already appear on the device when iCloud storage is reaching its capacity.
Apple is already a $750 billion company. Whether Apple was slowing down phone performance to boost sales, or had legitimate reasons prevent phone shut downs remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is the lack of transparency that the tech giant had with its customers. Apple is currently facing a wave of bad headlines, but the final cost from these pending class action lawsuits remains to be seen.
Consumers are protected by laws that are designed to prevent fraudulent behavior and misleading advertising. The legal ramifications of Apple’s behavior could set the tone for how other big corporations change their business models. A big financial hit to the company would also result in potential punitive damages for purposeful malicious conduct as well as a hit to its stock price.
Apple had offered this in a public statement surrounding the controversy:
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. 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.”