Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced a $113 million multi-state settlement with Apple regarding Apple’s 2016 “iPhone throttling” decision to reduce consumers’ iPhone speeds to address unexpected shutdowns in some iPhones.
Brnovich, along with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, led the investigation of Apple by more than 30 states.
Based on the multistate investigation, Brnovich alleges that Apple discovered that battery issues were leading to unexpected shutdowns in iPhones. Rather than disclosing these issues or replacing batteries, however, Apple concealed the issues from consumers. Apple’s concealment ultimately led to a software update in December 2016 that reduced iPhone performance to keep the phones from unexpectedly shutting down.
The attorneys general allege that Apple’s concealment of the battery issues and decision to conduct “iPhone throttling” led to Apple profiting from selling additional iPhones to consumers whose phone performance Apple had slowed.
“Big Tech companies must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich in a statement. “I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies accountable when they conceal important information from users.”
Under the proposed settlement, Apple will pay Arizona over $5 million. In addition to the monetary payment, Apple also must provide truthful information to consumers about iPhone battery health, performance, and power management. Apple must provide this important information in various forms on its website, in update installation notes, and in the iPhone user interface itself.
Recently, Apple also settled class action litigation related to the same “iPhone throttling” issue. Under that settlement Apple will pay out up to $500 million in consumer restitution. More information on the settlement can be found here.
MacDailyNews Take: This is more of Apple’s very expensive lesson in customer communication – one that could have been completely avoided with the publication of a simple support document that explained the feature.
Apple handled this poorly and deserves to learn a lesson so that the company properly communicates with customers in the future. – MacDailyNews, August 1, 2019
There’s no excusing this one. Apple deserves the ongoing headache. Hopefully, when all is said and done and paid, the company will have learned an important lesson about transparency and communication with their customers. — MacDailyNews, February 27, 2018
You can see why some think that Apple wanted to keep what they were doing a secret. If people knew that a $79 battery replacement would give them an iPhone that performed like it did on day one, a meaningful percentage would take that option versus buying a new iPhone. Now that it’s just $29 this year, that percentage will naturally increase.
Then again, as Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Apple’s made up of people. People are imperfect. We’ll take Apple’s word for it that they “always wanted… customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible” and that they “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.” — MacDailyNews, January 3, 2018
Again, it’s Apple’s lack of communication that is the problem here. If Apple had clearly explained what was going on in the software, we’d know to recommend a battery replacement when users complained their older iPhones were getting “slow.” As it was, we were pretty much left to assume that the processor/RAM wasn’t up to par with demands of newer iOS releases and we’d naturally recommend getting a new iPhone.
Just yesterday, we had a friend complain that his iPhone 6 was acting “slow” and we knew to recommend a battery replacement (even though he instead opted to get himself an iPhone X on our strong recommendation). — MacDailyNews, December 29, 2017
As has almost always been the case with Apple, unfortunately, transparency comes later, not sooner, and usually as a reaction to negative publicity. A simple Knowledge Base article would have preempted all of this Reddit sleuthing and the attendant handwringing and erroneous presumptions. — MacDailyNews, December 20, 2017
Friday’s settlement covers U.S. owners of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7Plus or SE that ran the iOS 10.2.1 or later operating system. It also covers U.S. owners of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that ran iOS 11.2 or later before Dec. 21, 2017.
MacDailyNews Note: If you are or were a U.S. owner of an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and/or SE device that ran iOS 10.2.1 or later before December 21, 2017, and/or a U.S. owner of an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus device that ran iOS 11.2 or later before December 21, 2017, you could be entitled to benefits under the iPhone throttling class action settlement. More info here.