by Alanna Ketler, Collective Evolution:
- The Facts:Apple was caught deliberately slowing down and degrading the battery life of older iPhone models.
- Reflect On:What causes us to create products that are useless after just a year or two? Are we greedy? Or is our economy forcing constant growth and the need to keep raising profits just to stay alive and keep shareholders happy?
An investigation launched in January 2018 determined that Apple had used a software update in order to deliberately slow down older iPhone models. Even though Apple admitted to this accusation, they claim it was done in an effort to try and help preserve the battery life of the phone.
The investigation was undertaken by a consumer watchdog from France, and now Apple will face the wrath of France’s Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCRF), who recently announced this on their website.
The DGCCRF has indeed shown that iPhone owners had not been informed that the updates of the iOS operating system (10.2.1 and 11.2) they installed were likely to slow down the operation of their device.
These updates, released during 2017, included a dynamic power management device which, under certain conditions and especially when the batteries were old, could slow down the functioning of the iPhone 6, SE models and 7.
Unable to revert to the previous version of the operating system, many consumers would have been forced to change their batteries or even buy a new phone.
Apple has not yet commented on this conclusion. However according to the DGCCRF, they have accepted the fine.
In 2017, when the investigation began, Apple attempted to save face with their consumers by posting the following apology:
We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.
We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about the issue so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.
Along with this apology, Apple announced that the company would reduce the cost of the replacement batteries for iPhone 6s and later editions that are out of warranty. They reduced the price from $79 to $29 and this was available anywhere Apple products were sold until December 2018.
If you are unfamiliar with this term, it is used to describe a practice companies often use when designing their products, designing them with the intention of having them break down so that consumers will have to repeatedly purchase the product more often. From a business standpoint, it makes sense, if the consumer only had to buy each product once in their life, that wouldn’t be very good for business. But having it deliberately break down every couple of years ensures that the consumer will keep buying it over and over again.
The term ‘perceived obsolescence’ refers to products that are seemingly out of date, and thus the consumer makes the decision to replace the item, even if it’s still in perfect working condition. We all know Apple is famous for this. We see images of people waiting in line overnight, in the cold, just to get the latest model, even though their current model is just fine. Considering Apple comes out with a new model at least every year, all the company would have to do is market it correctly, adding just the right features to persuade the consumer that they must have it. In this day and age, that’s pretty easy to do as we often want the latest and greatest thing to satisfy our constant yearning for more.