Italian Consumer Association Launches Lawsuit Against Apple for Planned Obsolescence

Italian consumer association Altroconsumo today announced that it has launched a class action lawsuit [PDF] against Apple for planned obsolescence (via Reuters).

iPhone slow
Altroconsumo is seeking damages of 60 million euros on behalf of Italian consumers who were "tricked" by the practice, with the lawsuit covering the iPhone 6, ‌iPhone‌ 6 Plus, ‌iPhone‌ 6s, and ‌iPhone‌ 6s Plus.

"When consumers buy Apple iPhones, they expect sustainable quality products. Unfortunately, that is not what happened with the iPhone 6 series. Not only were consumers defrauded, and did they have to face frustration and financial harm, from an environmental point of view it is also utterly irresponsible" said ​Els Bruggeman, Head of Policy and Enforcement at Euroconsumers. "This new lawsuit is the latest front in our fight against planned obsolescence in Europe. Our ask is simple: American consumers received compensation, European consumers want to be treated with the same fairness and respect."

These claims date back to the 2017 release of iOS 10.2.1, which included a feature that throttled the performance of older iPhones with degrading batteries to prevent device shutdowns at peak usage points. Apple did not make it clear that avoiding shutdowns would require device performance to be scaled down, which led to a huge consumer outcry and blowback that's ongoing today.

Italy in 2018 fined Apple 10 million euros for "dishonest commercial practices" for implementing an update that "caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones' substitution."

Apple has maintained that the idea of planned obsolescence is absurd, with the iOS 10.2.1 update designed to make iPhones last longer by preventing interruptions in usage. Following the fiasco, Apple implemented battery health features in iOS and debuted a $29 battery replacement program, but it has still faced multiple legal issues related to planned obsolescence claims.

The prior Italian lawsuit and fine were levied by regulators, while the current lawsuit seeks damages for consumers. Altroconsumo is seeking 60 euros on average for all owners of affected iPhones.

Apple is facing similar lawsuits in Belgium and Spain, and a fourth class action lawsuit is set to launch in the near future. Italy is also currently investigating Apple for improper commercial practices in regard to cloud computing services and recently fined Apple 10 million euros for misleading water resistance claims.

Top Rated Comments

CWallace Avatar
35 months ago
Cynical View:

Apple never should have enabled throttling, instead allowing phones with naturally-degraded batteries to just shut down and/or reboot.

The upsides would be they would have made more money because more people would have either paid for battery replacements at full price or bought new phones and Apple would not have had to pay all these fines and suffering the "bad PR" for actually trying to mitigate the problem.


Non-Cynical View:

Apple should have just made public what they were doing and why they were throttling. I'm sure there would have still been blowback (there always is when you try and do the right thing), but (hopefully) far less then they did by trying to just do it quietly.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dasmb Avatar
35 months ago
You can't win for losing here.

Apple uses the most robust battery technology available at the time, a technology that decreases in voltage as it ages.

Dropping voltage to any chip causes the chip to malfunction In this case, it causes phones to randomly restart under load.

Apple releases a patch that causes phones with reduced voltage to heal through the problem by reducing performance, rather than risking data loss or panics.

This move -- which effectively increases the usable lifespan of the phone -- is used to punish the company for "planned obsolescence."

You guys know what a knock sensor is? It's a little device that every car has that measures the quality of combustion in the engine. If it detects the wrong kinds of ignition, it reduces the fuel/air mixture to prevent too-powerful explosions from damaging the engine. In essence, it reduces performance to prolong the lifespan of the engine. And to my knowledge, no car company to date has been sued for "planned obsolescence."
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calzon65 Avatar
35 months ago
I think Apple already does a decent job supporting older platforms for many years. At some point, Apple or any other company, is going to "move on" to newer technologies.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xxray Avatar
35 months ago
This is ridiculous. Apple has always offered more years of software updates of any mobile OS. I understand they should’ve been more transparent with the battery situation, but still.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GeoStructural Avatar
35 months ago

I think Apple already does a decent job supporting older platforms for many years. At some point, Apple or any other company, is going to "move on" to newer technologies.
Right, if anything Apple is one of the big tech companies that supports their devices the longest.

Just the technological improvements alone, miniaturization, screen technologies, radio-communication standards, etc. make it very hard for these companies not to produce a new device periodically. That does not mean you have to buy it every year but they definitely will make it, otherwise their competition will.

I think Android devices suffer from early obsolescence more than iDevices. Same applies to Macs, I know people still rocking 2012 and 2013 devices that work decently.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Prodigy Avatar
35 months ago
And everyone in that class action suit, outside of the lawyers, might get .7 cents each...if they are lucky. Class actions suits are the biggest waste of time. They only get lawyers rich.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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