Italy Fines Apple And Samsung Over Software Updates That Slowed Phones

A Samsung and an Apple smartphone are displayed with their logos.
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Italy’s anti-trust watchdog revealed on Wednesday that it will fine Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. 5 million euros, or about $5.7 million, each over complaints that the two mobile phone makers used software updates to slow down their devices, Reuters reported.

Cupertino-based Apple was also hit with an additional fine of 5 million euros for its failure to give its clients clear information on how to maintain or replace handset batteries.

Consumer groups in Italy have complained that the software updates the two companies released reduced the functionality of their devices and were designed to get people to buy new handsets.

The anti-trust body said that some of these firmware updates caused serious dysfunctions, as well as significantly reduced the performance of the devices, which expedites the process of replacing them.

In its statement, the watchdog said that Apple and Samsung failed to provide their clients with adequate information about the impact of new software, or ways to restore the original functionality of their products.

Apple admitted In December that the iPhone software can indeed slow down some phones with battery problems, but it denied doing anything intentional to shorten the lifespan of its products.

It isn’t also just in Italy that Apple is being investigated for throttling phone performance.

Mobile phones made by Samsung and Apple are displayed together.
  Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

France is also investigating Apple for “planned obsolescence,” albeit the probe has yet to conclude. French law considers it a crime to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product to promote sales. The probe was made following a legal complaint filed by pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop).

“The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model,” the group said, according to a report by BBC.

In April, Israel’s Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority revealed that it has started a probe into Apple’s software updates.

Business Insider said that government agencies in Brazil and South Korea are also investigating Apple.

The company has also faced similar inquiries from the US Senate.

Samsung software updates for its mobile phones have not previously been questioned.

A spokesperson for the South Korean firm said that the company was disappointed by the decision and plans to appeal the fine.

“Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4’s performance. In contrast, Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.