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15 May, 2023 18:53

Apple investigated for ‘planned obsolescence’

French authorities are probing the tech giant for allegedly rendering its old iPhones unrepairable
Apple investigated for ‘planned obsolescence’

The Paris Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into Apple’s alleged efforts to render its own devices obsolete in order to force users to upgrade. The complaint follows successful judgments against the California tech giant in France and Italy.

“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.