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Anti-trust authority investigates Apple and Samsung in Italy over planned obsolescence

Published Jan 19th, 2018 7:45AM EST
iPhone Slowdown Investigation
Image: YouTube

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Ever since users discovered a few weeks ago that Apple has been slowing down iPhones with chemically aged batteries for the most part of 2017, the iPhone maker has been in a world of hurt. Class action suit after class action suit was filed in the US and in other markets, with that old conspiracy theory that Apple slows downs old iPhones, so users buy newer models being brought back to life. Regulators in various countries have already started looking into the matter as well.

Apple has denied these planned obsolescence claims again, admitting that it has done a poor job communicating how this battery-life-saving feature works. The company offered a cheaper battery replacement program and recently revealed that an iOS update will give users control over iPhone slowdowns.

While Apple has been quick to react to the backlash, that doesn’t mean class actions will just disappear, or that governmental agencies around the world will stop investigating the company.

An Italian anti-trust authority is the latest to announce a formal investigation. The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) said in a brief announcement that it’ll investigate alleged planned obsolescence practices at Apple and Samsung.

What’s strange about the announcement is that it involves Apple’s biggest rival. Samsung was quick to point out that it doesn’t throttle its smartphones, joining other smartphone makers who responded similarly to Apple’s iPhone slowdown fiasco.

But the AGCM still wants to look into claims that Samsung also reduces the performance of older device so that users end up buying newer models.

Apple, meanwhile, said that the only reason it slowed iPhones was to make sure the phones would not shut down unexpectedly. Users who have had the batteries replaced reported that iPhone performance returns to regular after the replacement. In fact, that’s how the iPhone slowdown was discovered in the first place.

The AGCM does not mention the iPhone slowdown mess directly, but the authority does say that companies have provided software updates to customers without offering sufficient information about their potential effects on performance.

From the wording used in the announcement, the AGCM makes it sound like Apple and Samsung have exploited the shortcomings of some components to reduce the performance of their devices. No smarpthone component is mentioned, however, not even the battery.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.