Italy is the latest country to throw its hat into the ring when it comes to investigating Apple for its purposeful slowing down of older iPhone devices.
In doing so, it joins countries including Brazil, South Korea, China and France, which have all questioned Apple about its iPhone-throttling software update. In a new twist, however, Italy is also investigating Apple rival Samsung.
Italy’s antitrust body says its probe will investigate allegations that both companies used software updates to slow their mobile phones, thereby pushing users to buy newer models.
The watchdog said neither company told users that software updates could negatively affect the performance of their smartphones. If found guilty of breaking consumer law, Apple and Samsung could face multimillion-dollar fines.
Slowing down phones to push user upgrades?
Apple previously admitted slowing down iPhones with a software update, but said that this was done as a preventative measure to stop older lithium-ion batteries from causing random shutdowns — as opposed to trying to push users to upgrade.
As a make-good, Apple 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.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also said that a future iOS update, likely to be released in February or March, will give users the ability to turn off the iPhone-slowing feature.
Is Samsung throttling its phones, too?
Samsung’s software updates for its phones have not previously been questioned, however.
In fact, Samsung quickly capitalized on Apple’s recent PR headache by issuing a statement saying, “Never have, never will! We care what our customers think. We do not reduce CPU performance through software updates over the lifecycles of the phone.”
It’s not clear what caused the investigation of Samsung by Italy’s antitrust authorities, or which handsets this allegedly affects. It will be very interesting to see what happens next, though.