Can Apple profit from their self-inflicted batterygate debacle?

“Apple Inc.’s recent admission that it secretly slowed down older iPhones with aging batteries has led to widespread outrage, a proliferation of lawsuits and an unusually abject corporate apology,” Adam Minter writes for Bloomberg View. “But it’s possible that this episode could end up being a significant opportunity for Apple — if it finally rethinks some long-held assumptions.”

“‘Batterygate,’ as it’s been dubbed, certainly looks like a disaster. Apple says it simply slowed down the phones to prevent them from crashing, and is offering users $29 battery replacements (instead of the usual $79) to make amends,” Minter writes. “But that will be costly: By one estimate, it will result in about 16 million fewer upgrades in 2018. Demand for replacements has grown so quickly that waiting lists now stretch for weeks.”

“Yet that’s just where the opportunity comes in. Customers are clearly fed up with the relentless upgrade cycle that Apple has long profited from, and would happily pay to extend the lives of their phones rather than shell out for new ones,” Minter writes. “Learning to meet that demand will be crucial if Apple hopes to conquer emerging markets and lure a new generation of customers — and batterygate may be just the wakeup call it needed.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We do not foresee Apple selling spare part batteries and sanctioning battery repairs to unauthorized repair shops and/or end users as Minter calls for.

Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous (See just today: Apple store in Zurich evacuated as iPhone battery overheats) and only competent replacement by Apple authorized service technicians should be allowed. We do not want to be on a plane with DYI replacement lithium-ion batteries jammed into smartphones by Joe and Jane Sixpack. It’s bad enough that there are God only knows how many Samsung Galaxy Note 7 units still out there.

French prosecutor launches probe into Apple planned obsolescence – January 8, 2018
Apple’s design decisions and iPhone batteries – January 8, 2018
Apple now faces over two dozen lawsuits for ‘purposefully’ or ‘secretly’ slowing down older iPhones – January 5, 2018
Why aging batteries don’t slow down Android phones like Apple iPhones – January 5, 2018
Apple’s $29 replacement batteries expected to hurt new iPhone sales – January 4, 2018
How to see if Apple’s throttling your iPhone – January 4, 2018
Brazilian agency requires Apple to inform consumers on batteries – January 3, 2018
Analyst: Apple’s ‘batterygate’ solution may mean 16 million fewer iPhones sold this year – January 3, 2018
An Apple conspiracy theory blooms – January 2, 2018
Apple clarifies policy on $29 battery replacements: All iPhone 6 and later devices are eligible – January 2, 2018
Why Apple’s response to iPhone ‘batterygate’ is brilliant – December 30, 2017
Australian lawyers to launch largest-ever class action against Apple over iPhone ‘batterygate’ – December 29, 2017
The most annoying things about Apple’s iPhone ‘batterygate’ apology – December 29, 2017
iFixit discounts iPhone battery replacement kits as Apple cuts prices, apologizes for the confusion – December 29, 2017
15 class action lawsuits filed against Apple for throttling iPhones with aging batteries – December 29, 2017
Apple apologizes for poor communication about iPhone batteries and performance; slashes battery replacement cost from $79 to $29 – December 28, 2017
No, Apple’s throttling of iPhones with aging batteries is not planned obsolescence – December 28, 2017
Apple execs face jail in France after lawsuit over slowing down iPhones – December 28, 2017
Korea seeks explanation from Apple for slowing down devices without warning – December 28, 2017
Apple now facing 8 lawsuits over throttling processors in iPhones with aging batteries – December 27, 2017
Apple tarnished their brand with clandestine iPhone battery management and processor throttling – December 27, 2017
Should Apple replace aging iPhone batteries for free instead of throttling processor speed? – December 21, 2017
Apple confirms iPhones with older batteries will take hits in performance – December 20, 2017
iPhone performance and battery age – December 18, 2017
Apple met with Chinese regulators to discuss iPhone 6s unexpected shutdowns – February 10, 2017
Rumor: Apple may extend iPhone 6s battery replacement program to iPhone 6 – January 17, 2017
A message from Apple about 
iPhone and unexpected shutdowns – December 2, 2016
Apple offers free battery replacement for ‘very small number’ of iPhone 6s units with unexpected shutdown issue – November 21, 2016


  1. “Customers are clearly fed up with the relentless upgrade cycle that Apple has long profited from…”

    Besides the poor grammar, it should be pointed out that Apple did not create this cycle. You can hold onto your iPhone for years and pass it down to others. People do not seem to appreciate the fact that Apple’s approach to power management extends the useful lives of iOS devices with aging batteries and likely delayed many people from upgrading to a new iPhone model rather than evilly promoting upgrades.

    Plus, the use of the word “secret” is inaccurate, imo. Apple posted the information. Just because few people actually read and understood it does not make it a secret. I have yet to see any evidence that Apple failed to meet its warranty obligations regarding 80% battery capacity after 500 charge cycles. In truth, Apple improved the user experience by finding an elegant way to keep iOS devices with aging batteries functioning longer. The slowdown effect is overblown because the test purposely shows the worst-case throttling condition.

    I am sick and tired of stupid people. The world is filled with them.

    1. MDN: Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous … and only competent replacement by Apple authorized service technicians should be allowed.

      I was able to replace the batteries in all my macbooks until 2009 with no specialized battery-handling equipment or technical knowledge. Same goes for plenty of non-Apple phones. They were simply user-replaceable.

      Apple’s tech-anorexia fed right this.

    2. “I am sick and tired of stupid people. The world is filled with them.”

      And way too many of them have an anti-Apple agenda. This issue only impacts the small percentage of users that I would describe as power users. For the average user the “slow down” was imperceptible. But because of the media’s penchant to pile on (gotta get those eyeballs), the issue has been blown way out of proportion to actual consumer impact.

      I think the 16 million lost sales estimate is bogus. Sure, there will be consumers that opt for the battery replacement that may have been considering purchasing new, but the flip side of the estimate is that 16 million, that hadn’t thought of upgrading, opt for the battery exchange AND buy new, once they’ve seen the iPhone 8/iPhone X up close and personal.

      I see “battery-gate” as having little, if any, negative impact on iPhone sales and may actually improve sales.

    3. absolutely agree, including optimizing the safe operation of older iphones. this site does not present two sides to their apple bashing diatribes, MDN comes off as lawyers litigating tim cook.

      1. If I were still in the lawsuit-filing business, I would be looking for the really big one, not this piddly “planned obsolescence” trash.

        The big suit is to represent the survivors of somebody who froze to death or died in a flash flood because his iPhone shut down unexpectedly before he could call for help, even though Apple knew how to manage battery load to prevent it.

        “Oh, if poor Cecil had only known that a software upgrade could save his life, he would be here today!”

  2. WoW, Scamscum never got this much press for the battery issue that incinerating their loyalists processions. Apple steps up and resolved the issue by replacing the battery at discounted price, and they are crucified for a misstep.
    Now, to all you android fanatics, remember a major lapse of time before Scamscum responded to their exploding battery issue.

      1. But in many cases, those Samsung class-action lawsuits caused quite a bit of physical and property damage to the plaintiffs. Such damage didn’t happen in this battery incident. I would think that in these cases, either a free battery is warranted or Apple paying for the cost of a new iPhone if the plaintiff bought a new iPhone. It seems as though it should be quite easy to resolve.

        No matter what, these cases should be privately resolved out of court because I would think it would be quite a waste of the court’s time to have to deal with this type of lawsuit when no physical or property damage was caused.

  3. The iPhone battery according to factories that I have asked “will not cost more than a dollar” depending on quantity, Apple probably makes some money. Another question is what kind of warranty the battery factory is giving, the batteries might be free too, kind of like “OK, we will give you 1 million extra batteries with the next purchase as warranty replacements.”

    I had a 6s battery replaced a couple of months ago, the technician used a little machine that got the display out in 5 seconds, including the screws. Magic. The whole job took about 5 minutes. The boy burned his finger though because a silicon tip from his finger dropped out while he pulled the battery out.

  4. Seems like Apple is approaching Peak iPhone and yet still is under pressure to grow revenue. I have an iPhone 7 and see nothing in the 8 or X to make me want to switch phones and I damn sure do not want to spend $1k on a cell phone. The first iMac I bought (Blue G3) was less than that.

    Normally I replace every 2 years and that would mean about October this year. I will probably buy myself an updated battery and keep on with the 7. Have no desire for Face ID or an iPhone without a home button.

  5. Asking $5B for a slowed iPhone certainly does seem a bit excessive. Usually the awards to plaintiffs on those courtroom TV shows are quite meager for complaints that don’t involve physical injury. It will be quite interesting to see if the plaintiffs in these Apple lawsuit will bring plaintiffs very large rewards.

    1. Injury due to loss of utility is nearly impossible to prove. The ONLY reason that law firms take on cases like this is the earned fees, whether the plaintiff prevails or not.

      There will be a consolidation of all these suits (ordered by the courts) and a settlement whereby the lawyers will be compensated in cash, and the plaintiffs will get a non-transferable coupon (good for $100 when they buy any Apple product). Most won’t redeem the coupon. If they do, I’ll wager they use it, coupled with the trade in value of an older (but with new battery) to buy an iPhone X. Given how long it takes to resolve a class action the coupons won’t be issued until after the next release of iPhone X (with a standard $100 price reduction).

      Apple’s move to replace batteries for $29 effectively eliminates the injury claim, especially for those that have yet to buy a replacement iPhone. For those that did upgrade, it is incumbent on them to prove they were not potential upgraders, but did so because of the battery issue. That’s a huge hurdle to surmount for the plaintiff.

      The loser in all this will be Samsung, as demand for iPhone X is extended through the December quarter of 2019.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.