Chinese consumer group demands action concerning iPhone slowdowns

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iPhone 8 Plus image
Another group is demanding answers from Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

A Chinese consumer group is joining the number of organizations and individuals asking Apple for more information about its purposeful slowing down of older iPhones as their batteries degrade.

In a letter sent to Apple this week, the Shanghai Consumer Council asks Apple for details about what it plans to do to rectify the issue. It wants a response by Friday.

The Shanghai Consumer Council, a non-government organization that is nonetheless approved by the Chinese authorities, has said it received 2,615 complaints about Apple in 2017. That’s up from 964 in 2015.

What do they want from Apple?

What’s not clear from the complaint is exactly what the consumer group hopes Apple will do. It has already admitted to slowing down some iPhones as they get older, although it has said that this is done to prolong the life of their lithium-ion batteries, rather than anything intended to push users to upgrade.

It has also notified customers that it will reduce the price on out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements by $50, putting the cost at just $29. The offer covers anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced. Customers can take advantage of the new price starting later this month. It will be available worldwide until December 2018.

Nonetheless, the slowdown story has been a PR nightmare for Apple around the world. At present, 12 lawsuits have been brought against the company, while demands for explanations have been made by officials in countries including Brazil, South Korea, and France. In South Korea, 370,000 individuals — or the equivalent of one out of every 138 people who live in the country — have signed up to join a class action suit against Apple.

Another bump in the road in China

Given Apple’s enthusiasm for growing its market in China, the complaints from the Shanghai Consumer Council could prove particularly vexing. While the number of complaints it reports receiving is relatively tiny, Apple has gone out of its way to avoid riling Chinese authorities.

Previously, Apple has been forced to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country. It has also seen its products booted off the list of approved state purchases in favor of Chinese-made products, and been forced to shut down its iBooks Store and iTunes Movies in the country — just six months after the services were first made available.

Most recently, Apple agreed to move iCloud accounts in China to one operated by a local company. This was done to comply with China’s new cloud computing regulations, stating that cloud services in China must be operated by Chinese businesses.

Source: CNBC