A French watchdog agency has launched a probe into whether Apple deliberately phased out older iPhones to force customers to upgrade to a newer model.
The probe, launched by France’s consumer fraud watchdog agency DGCCRF Friday, is only the latest scrutiny Apple has faced after admitting last month it slows down older iPhones for battery-related reasons.
In numerous lawsuits from the United States, Israel, and South Korea, Apple has been accused of “planned obsolescence,” a widely shared conspiracy theory among iPhone users that the iPhone maker shortens the phone’s life to pressure customers to upgrade. In France, planned obsolescence is illegal and can carry fines up to 5 percent of a company’s annual sales and jail terms for its executives.
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Apple strongly denied engaging in the practice in a statement issued on Dec. 28, a week after its initial admission about slowing down phones.
“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,” said Apple. “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.”
The company also announced it will lower all out-of-warranty battery replacements in Apple stores from $79 to $29 until December 2018 and will issue a new software update later this year so users can better track their iPhone battery’s health.
The probe was launched after a group called Halte a l’Obsolescence Programmee (Hop), or Stop Planned Obsolescence, filed a legal complaint against Apple.
Meaningful developments in the investigation may be a long way away. The DGCCRF’s preliminary investigation could take months, and depending on the findings, the case will either be dropped or handed to a judge for a more in-depth investigation, according to Reuters.
France won’t be the only country looking for answers from the Cupertino tech giant. South Korea’s broadcasting and telecommunications regulator also sought an explanation from Apple in December on allegations that it tried to defraud customers by deliberately slowing down devices without warning, according to the Korea Herald.
“We are hoping to get some answers on whether Apple intentionally restricted the performance of old iPhones and tried to hide this from customers,” said the Korea Communications Commission.
Photo: Guests attend the grand opening of Apple’s Chicago flagship store along Michigan Avenue on Oct. 20, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Tags: Apple, France, iPhones