Regulator questions Apple Israel CEO on slowing iPhones

iPhone 6 and iPhone 5

Apple is being accused of slowing down users' smartphones without telling them.

Apple Israel CEO Rony Friedman was questioned today in the office of the Israel Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority about allegations that the company deliberately slowed down iPhones.

The Consumer Protection Authority said, “The investigation was opened following suspicions of non-disclosure of material information to consumers about the existence of a slowing feature in updated versions of its smartphones.”

Since Apple Israel is classed as a local company, the Israel Consumer Protection Authority has the authority to impose fines on it for the damage inflicted on Israeli consumers, which was also suffered by holders of Apple iPhones worldwide. Under the authority to impose fines, which became effective in January 2015, the Israel Consumer Protection Authority can impose fines on lawbreaking companies of up to NIS 45,000 per violation. This means that the total fine imposed on Apple Israel could amount to millions of shekels to reflect the damage suffered by each consumer owning an iPhone as a result of the company's measure.

Friedman was questioned as part of an open investigation that began after a number of social network surfers who shared information “asserted that Apple's response to complaints about its mobile devices slowing down indicated that Apple had allegedly installed a component for slowing down the devices in the revised version that it offers its consumers,” the Consumer Protection Authority stated. “It is also suspected that the explanations given to consumers who had not yet received the updated version did not include disclosure of the important information about the alleged existence of the slowing down feature.”

When the affair was first reported in late 2017, Apple, the parent company of Apple Israel, posted a comment on the matter on its website that did not deny the consumers' allegations, but which apologized for the error. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize,” the company stated in December. Apple explained that its purpose had been to extend the lifespan of the battery in the old models, which slowed down the operation of the devices.

Apple later declared that it would allow consumers to replace the battery at low cost. Replacing the battery in the US was priced at $29 instead of $79, and iDigital offered to replace batteries for NIS 145.

Lawsuits against Apple pour in following misstep

The Israel Consumer Protection Authority suspects that Apple Israel violated the Consumer Protection Law, and is therefore conducting an investigation in order to determine what sanctions to impose on the company.

Apple has already been investigated by a number of countries and agencies around the world, including the Italian government, a criminal investigation in France, and a complaint by a consumer organization in South Korea, accompanied by a lawsuit against the company.

Apple admitted slowing down the devices. The company said the reason was that without the slowdown, old batteries were liable to make old devices switch off unexpectedly after an update is downloaded to the device due to the load on the battery.

Following the public storm caused by the company's admission, Apple undertook to allow consumers to cancel the slowdown when downloading updates, but did not recommend using this option, due to concern that the device could switch off in an emergency situation, thereby preventing it from being used. In addition, Apple cut the battery's price to $29, enabling users to replace their batteries and avoid the slowdown.

The slowdown feature appears in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 plus, and the iPhone SE. Slowdowns on these devices can be as great as 50%.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 10, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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iPhone 6 and iPhone 5
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