France launches investigation into Apple ‘planned obsolescence’

9 Jan 2018

iPhone 7. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

A French consumer watchdog is investigating Apple for allegedly deceiving consumers.

Apple recently acknowledged that it does slow the performance of older iPhones, a practice it says is carried out in order to prevent phones from randomly shutting down due to battery degradation.

The company has offered a discounted battery replacement service for several models of the iPhone, and it has maintained that it would never intentionally shorten the lifespan of any Apple product.

“We apologise. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

“First and foremost, 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.

“Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that,” said Apple.

French investigation

Despite the reassurances from Apple, French consumer watchdog DGCCRF launched an investigation on 5 January, looking into alleged deception and planned obsolescence of Apple products following complaints from a consumer organisation.

The BBC noted that Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop), the consumer organisation that made the complaint, said France was the third country to investigate Apple after Israel and the US.

Out of all three countries, planned obsolescence is only a criminal offence in France. There, firms can be fined up to 5pc of their annual sales for deliberately throttling the lifespan of their products in order to incentivise customers to purchase newer models.

Further trouble for Apple

Reuters reported that the preliminary investigation could take a number of months and will either be dropped or passed on to a judge for further investigation, depending on the findings.

Hop has also filed legal complaints against Epson, HP and Canon, alleging that the companies deliberately shorten the lifespan of print cartridges.

Apple also faces lawsuits in the US for allegedly defrauding users by slowing their devices to compensate for battery issues without prior warning.

iPhone 7. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects