UK-based consumer rights campaigner Justin Gutmann has filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc with a claim of £768 million ($918 million).
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the 2017 ‘Batterygate’ controversy that Apple was at the centre of when they released a software update for iPhones that secretly slowed down older models.
The claim was filed in the Competition Appeals Tribunal and seeks to compensate 25 million iPhone users in the UK who were affected.
What Is 'Batterygate'?
In January 2017, a new software update was rolled out for iPhones. One of the new features that came with this update was a power management tool that Apple claims was meant to increase the battery life of older devices such as the iPhone 6 and 7 which would have suffered battery degradation over the years.
However, what iPhone users were not aware of was that this power management tool underclocked their devices’ processors, decreasing their performance by up to 58 percent. Many users began noticing that their devices were slower and not performing that well after the update.
Apple faced major public backlash for throttling the performance on older devices without telling the users. To most people, this was a clear example of planned obsolescence, a tactic used to make users upgrade to a newer and more expensive device earlier than they otherwise would.
Apple ended up being sued in multiple countries following this event. In 2020, they agreed to pay $500 million as compensation to users in the US affected by the update.
They were also fined €25 million by French authorities and €10 million in Italy. The company would go on to address the situation by reducing the cost of battery replacements and offering users the option to turn off the power management tool.
'Hope Companies Will Re-evaluate Business Models'
Gutmann claims that the software update introduced the CPU throttling since older devices were not able to handle the new software updates.
He states that instead of doing the ‘honourable’ thing by offering repairs and battery replacements, Apple engaged in an underhanded attempt to force people to discard their handsets in favour of the newer models.
“If this case is successful, I hope dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of conduct.”Justin Gutmann
Apple has released a statement saying that they have never done anything to intentionally decrease the life of their products or degrade the user experience. The company claims that they make every effort to make their devices last as long as possible.