If you recall, you would remember that in 2017 Apple admitted to purposely slowing older iPhones. Almost every media house covered this news back then. It created an uproar, and the tech giant later added options inside the Settings app of the iPhone to check your battery health and performance capability. Apple also had a cheap battery replacement program for affected customers.
Most of us thought that the story is over. However, recently, Directorate-General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCRF), France, has added a new chapter to that story by revealing its findings.
According to DGCCRF, Apple failed to inform users that iOS updates to older iPhones could slow down their devices. Following the investigation and agreement of the Public Prosecutor of Paris, Apple has agreed to pay a fine of 25 million euros.
Is this fine justified? Is the amount right? Will it affect Apple and other tech giants? Let us talk about it.
France Fines Apple 25 Million Euros for Slowing Down iPhones
First, Why was Apple Fined?
Macrumors translated the DGCCRF press release, and the text reads:
“Seized on January 5, 2018, by the Paris Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the complaint of an association against Apple, the DGCCRF has shown that iPhone owners were not informed that the updates of the iOS operating system (10.2.1 and 11.2) they installed were likely to slow down the operation of their device.
“These updates, released during 2017, included a dynamic power management device which, under certain conditions and especially when the batteries were old, could slow down the functioning of the iPhone 6, SE models. and 7.”
Now, one thing to focus on here is that the fine is not for slowing the iPhone. Instead, it is for failing to inform the iPhone owners of the same.
Should Apple Decrease Performance on Old iPhone?
I will give a brutally, straight answer. Yes, Apple should decrease performance on old iPhones.
The lithium-ion battery inside the iPhone (or any device) has a limited lifespan. They degrade over time. Apple says that if it does not slow old iPhones with old batteries, it will lead to unexpected and irregular shutdowns of the device.
In my view, if a person chooses to use an old iPhone, they should be able to at least get the essential functions out of this, which are calls, texts, emails. Suppose your iPhone (that is old, but there are no limitations) is in your purse or bag. Now without you knowing, it shuts down when you are commuting! You miss important morning notifications, calls, texts, and more. Would you like this? I would never like this.
A little cut down performance is better for me than random shutdowns. Many people do business via iPhones, and erratic power off is something most would hate.
Then Where’s the Problem?
What Apple did is not evil in my eyes, but how they did it is gravely wrong. They started slowing the devices without informing the user. Most of you reading this won’t accept such behavior. An end-user should always be made aware of these as they are massive changes.
I mean, suppose you have an iPhone 6, and you excitedly upgrade to a new iOS version, only to know that your device significantly lags now. After an update or before the update, if you are made aware of it with proper reason, the owner would feel that Apple is straightforward with him.
Now you may ask what about Samsung and a whole lot of other Android devices that slow after one or two years? Well, they do so by usages, inferior hardware, software bloat, design, and much more. Until now, no one has caught Samsung or other manufacturers tweaking the operating system to slow the device for whatever reason. If they do, they too should be treated severely.
So, in my opinion, the fine that France imposed on Apple is right. Someone had to do this.
Will this Fine Affect Apple?
On the financial level, 25 million euros fine is peanuts for the world’s most valuable tech company. According to The Register, the amount of the fine equals money that Apple earns in just 55 minutes. So, this is not going to create even the slightest dent in Apple’s reserves.
To the best of my belief, on the moral front too, I do not think this fine is going to affect Apple. They are among the biggest companies on the planet with vast reserves of resources and intellectual power. If they want to do something similar in the future, they may do so again.
On the positive note, I do realize that though this fine won’t work as a hindrance, it will undoubtedly act as a reminder that responsible authorities are watching you.
Google, too, was recently fined 5 billion dollars by the European Union for breaking antitrust laws. Did this penalty turn Google into a hermit? Certainly not! But these are small hammer blows that, in the long term, will reflect actual changes. Remember The Shawshank Redemption – the small rock hammer that built a tunnel!
Apple and Other Companies In Long Term
In the coming times, I believe not only Apple but all companies will try to act transparent and honest on their face.
Do you know that almost all big companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and more were caught listening to the audio of their digital assistants? After that, they have started asking users for their consent to use their audio. Most now provide a toggle using which you can turn off or choose not to participate in this.
I think that Apple and all tech giants will peremptorily try to declutter their terms and conditions options where they bury many essential things. Earlier, they may mention that ‘we will collect and use your audio sent to Siri or Google Assistant or Alex or Cortana for our use.’ Now they have pulled it out from the long paragraphs of T&C. They ask for user consent when you set your new device or set it up after reset. I suppose this is a good beginning.
An iPhone user is the owner of the data he has on his device, as well as what he sends to Apple servers for basic tasks like voice assistant. I think it is a must to ask the user’s permission straightforwardly and effortlessly before companies start using it for training AI or hiring 3rd party human contract workers to listen to these clips manually.
Should Other Countries Follow This
France and in Google’s case, the EU, have set a stage. Other countries may also follow this. When they see that a discriminatory practice is carried out by a corporation, they must not hesitate to put them before a court.
After all, the government of a country must act on behalf of its citizens, which are the end-users of the products and services provided by these companies.
Is Fine on Apple Justified – My Opinion
I believe that the fine against Apple, in this case, is wholly justified. I can not comment on the amount of the fine. It may have been more. But I am excited about the beginning. A precedent is set here and I am enthusiastic about it. It does not matter how big a company you are; if you mess up, you will be questioned and compelled to answer.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the fine should have been more? Can you suggest any other punishment for Apple? Or do you believe there should be no punishment, if at all? Please share your opinion with us in the comments down below.
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- Apple in 2020: What Else Should We Expect From The Tech Giant