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Apple to face Senate questions

by on11 January 2018

Throttling feature is the gift which will not go away

While it is in hot water with the French authorities for throttling its older phones, Apple is likely to face some tough questioning on its side of the pond as the chairman of a US Senate committee overseeing business issues asked the fruity cargo cult to answer a few questions.

The fruity cargo cult has said sorry for making the performance of its older phones rubbish and said it would change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good.

Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a January 9 letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook that “the large volume of consumer criticism levelled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency”.

Apple said it would cut the price of a replacement for an out-of-warranty battery to $29 from $79 for an iPhone 6 or later. The company also will update its iOS operating system so users can see whether the battery is in poor condition and affecting the phone’s performance.

Thune asked if Apple considered making free battery replacements available or if it explored offering rebates for customers who paid the full price for replacement batteries.

He also wants to know if Apple notified consumers of the throttling feature in software updates, which slows the phone, and if customers had the option of declining the update. The letter also asked if similar software was used in earlier iPhone models.

Apple acknowledged earlier in December that iPhone software can slow down some phones with battery problems. Apple said the problem was that ageing lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shut down unexpectedly to protect the delicate circuits inside.

That disclosure played on a common belief among consumers that Apple purposely slows down older phones to encourage customers to buy newer iPhone models.  Lawsuits have been filed in California, New York and Illinois alleging the company defrauded users by slowing down devices without warning.

The company also faces a legal complaint in France, where  “planned obsolesce” of a product is illegal.

Last modified on 11 January 2018
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