If you thought battery-gate was over, think again. Italy just hit Apple with an $11.4 million fine for something Apple probably thought was behind them.
Italy was not just looking at Apple. Samsung was also fined for a similar issue. Though Samsung’s fine was less than half of what Apple has to pay. AppleInsider offers additional details.
“The Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) issued the fines to both companies following complaints that software updates slowed down smartphones. Italian consumer groups advised the updates made the smartphones run slower, reducing their functionality, and alleging the updates were made to encourage customers to upgrade to newer models.
“Reuters reports the antitrust body said some firmware updates from the two firms ‘had caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them.’ Both companies are also claimed to have failed to provide customers with adequate information about the impact of software updates ‘or any means of restoring the original functionality of the products.’”
Many tech enthusiasts have defended the companies in question because it is not clear that there was any malicious intent. The companies were providing battery management to keep smartphones from shutting off unexpectedly. That involved being much more aggressive with performance throttling.
The problem is less about what they did, and more about how they did it. Apple did not make it clear what they were doing with performance throttling. So people with older phones believed that there was a problem with their phone when it was really just a battery in need of replacement. This may have caused many to upgrade when they would have preferred to replace the battery and keep the phone.
Had Apple been more upfront about what they were doing, they likely would not have been fined at all. As it stands, $11.4 million is hardly a major penalty for Apple. It is more of a statement and a warning.
Since those battery issues came to light, Apple has continued to offer the same type of battery management. They have just made it more clear. They have also made it an opt-in toggle, along with a way for users to more easily monitor their battery health.
Recently, it has been shown that the latest iOS update has greatly increased the performance of older iPhones. Google has also made it a priority to boost the performance of older Android phones. The challenge for Google is that the vast majority of older phones that could use it will never get the latest Android update.