Apple investigated for ‘planned obsolescence’

“Following a complaint, an investigation was opened in December 2022 into deceptive marketing practices and programmed obsolescence,” the office said in a statement on Monday, adding that the complaint was filed by an activist group called ‘Halte a L’Obsolescence Programmee’ (HOP).  The group’s complaint centers around the practice of ‘serialization’, whereby spare parts like microchips or speakers are matched with serial numbers to a specific generation of iPhone. This prevents third-party repairers from using generic parts, and as models are phased out by Apple, so too are the associated spares, forcing customers to shell out for a newer model.

Apple, HOP claims, can detect when a phone has been repaired with unauthorized parts and can remotely “degrade” its performance. An earlier complaint by HOP led to Apple being fined $27 million by a French consumer watchdog in 2020 for slowing the performance of older iPhones via mandatory operating system upgrades. A similar decision was made in Italy a year earlier, with the country’s antitrust authority imposing a fine of $10.8 million on the California company. A similar attempt to sue Apple over planned obsolescence was defeated in South Korea in February, with a court in Seoul dismissing the suit without explanation and forcing the plaintiffs to pay Apple’s legal fees.

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