Apple sued for 20-inch iMac ‘deception’

Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP March 31, 2008 press release verbatim:

Apple deceptively marketed its new 20-inch iMac in a way that grossly inflated the capabilities of its monitor, which is vastly inferior to the previous generation it replaced, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed today by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP.

According to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose, Apple is deceiving consumers by concealing that the new 20-inch iMac monitors are inferior to the previous generation’s and those of the new 24-inch iMac. In addition, the monitors are incapable of displaying “millions of colors,” despite Apple’s marketing claims.

Apple’s newest iMac — an “all-in-one” desktop computer that combines the monitor into the same case as the CPU — was unveiled in August 2007.

“Apple is duping its customers into thinking they’re buying ‘new and improved’ when in fact they’re getting stuck with ‘new and inferior,'” said Brian Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. “Beneath Apple’s ‘good guy’ image is a corporation that takes advantage of its customers. Our goal is to help those customers who were deceived and make sure Apple tells the truth in the future.”

Apple told consumers that both the 20-inch and 24-inch iMacs displayed “millions of colors at all resolutions.” Indeed, the new 24-inch iMacs display 16,777,216 colors on 8-bit, in-plane switching (IPS) screens, as did the previous generation of 20-inch iMacs. But the new 20-inch iMac monitors do not even come close, displaying 98% fewer colors (262,144).

While Apple describes the display of both the 24-inch and 20-inch iMacs as though they were interchangeable, the monitors in each are of radically different technology. The 20-inch iMacs feature 6-bit twisted nematic film (TN) LCD screens, the least expensive of its type.

The 20-inch iMac’s TN screens have a narrower viewing angle, less color depth, less color accuracy and are more susceptible to washout across the screen.
Apple’s Web site tells consumers that “No matter what you like to do on your computer — watch movies, edit photos, play games, even just view a screen saver — it’s going to look stunning on an iMac.”

In fact, the inferior technology of the 20-inch iMac is particularly ill-suited to editing photographs because of the display’s limited color potential and the distorting effect of the color simulation processes.

“Apple is squeezing more profits for itself by using cheap screens and its customers are unwittingly paying the price,” Kabateck said.

Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP is one of the nation’s foremost consumer law firms. Its clients have won more than $750 million against Google, Farmer’s Insurance, Eli Lilly and other major corporations. As a plaintiff’s-only firm, Kabateck Brown Kellner is always on the consumers’ side.

Source: Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP


  1. One day I had like nothing to do, so I was counting the colors I could see on my iMac screen. I got to 262,140! For love of money I could not find the other four colors the lawyers claim are possible! I am going to see Dewey, Cheatum and Howe tomorrow about starting a lawsuit. I am thinking there is a potential for another classless lawsuit here!

  2. I chose to pay extra to get the big 24″ screen primarily because it is 1920×1200, which supports 1080 HD, and because it looked great to me in terms of color, contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc. In addition, the resolution permits side-by-side page views at reasonable scale, which is great for document reviews.

    When I was shopping for my Mac I noticed that the 20″ iMac did not look as good, although to my untrained eye it still looked to be accessible. When the new iMacs were released, I recall Mac discussion threads comparing the iMac screens to the corresponding Apple Cinema Displays, and the 20″ iMac did not fare well. But the ACD’s are targeted towards professionals and the iMacs are targeted towards consumers. In addition, the 20″ iMac is priced at the low end of the Mac range.

    This dispute appears to me to be very similar to the dispute regarding the Macbook LCD displays (6-bit, not 8-bit). If the lawsuit is successful, the only people getting significant money out of it will be the lawyers. The class representatives will get a token amount (perhaps $10K or less), and the people who bought the 20″ iMacs in question will get an Apple coupon good for a discount (say $50) that might be limited to purchases of computers or displays.

    I think that Apple should be more transparent in its marketing. It is critical for Apple to maintain the trust of the consumer, in my opinion. But is Apple’s display marketing any different from that of any other vendor?

  3. Q: What do you have when a lawyer is buried up to his/her neck in sand?
    A: Not enough sand.

    Q: Why is going to a meeting of the Bar Association like going into a bait shop?
    A: Because of the abundance of leeches, maggots and nightcrawlers.

    Q: What’s the difference between a dead dog in the road and a dead lawyer in the road.
    A: There are skid marks in front of the dog.

  4. well…

    perhaps the lawsuit is based on fact…

    I don’t pretend to know enough about it make an informed comment, but if the monitor isn’t capable of “millions of colors”… as advertised… I’d say they have a case…

  5. Well, it’s a shame that Apple made the claim, really. I would tend to doubt that the human eye can discern more than a quarter million colors really. I guess the question is, how much injury is done by this white lie. $40 dollars worth? These guys are trolls. As far as the inferior viewing angle, I think Apple does outline differences between the two in the tech specs.

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