Apple late Tuesday said government officials have questioned the tech giant about a software update that slowed down older iPhones, escalating a problem that has already damaged Apple's reputation with consumers.
“We have received questions from some government
agencies and we are responding to them,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller
said in a statement. Apple's statement does not reference any specific
Apple also reiterated that it did not release the update —
designed to preserve battery life — to make older phones obsolete to
sell new ones. Apple intentionally throttled the speed of most iPhones
older than the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, both released late last year, when
the battery power was low or the software sensed the battery was old.
we told our customers in December, we have never — and would never — do
anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or
degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement
Apple's statement comes amid reports that the Department of
Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have asked Apple for
more information about the software update from last January. The
agencies are looking into whether Apple may have violated securities
laws, but have not yet determined that there was wrongdoing, according
to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg.
The SEC's involvement suggests that the government is looking at how Apple's actions affected investors.
The SEC declined to comment. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
the statement, Apple said a new spring software update will allow
iPhone users to see if the power throttling function is on and control
Many consumers have criticized the firm for not being more
forthcoming. Apple apologized in December for slowing down iPhones
without openly informing customers of the change. The company faces
several lawsuits over the software, and government officials in Italy,
France and South Korea have opened investigations into the issue.
of the people suing Apple say that they would not have bought newer
iPhones if they knew that they could fix the issues with their older
models by simply replacing the battery.
Apple has denied it had
any motivation in releasing the update other than improving iPhone
performance. It has since temporarily dropped the price of battery
replacements from $79 to $29. It will also give people the option to
turn off the phone-slowing software in a future update.
John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has
also asked Apple for more information about the update, including on how
they disclosed the performance issues to iPhone owners.
large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light
of its admission suggests that there should have been better
transparency with respect to these practices,” Thune said in a letter
sent Jan. 9. Apple's response to that letter is expected this week, said
the Commerce Committee's spokesman, Frederick Hill.
executive Tim Cook said in an interview with ABC News earlier this month
that Apple did alert customers about the change but could have been
“We did say what it was, but I don't think a lot of
people were paying attention and maybe we should have been clearer, as
well,” Cook said. “We deeply apologize for anyone who thinks we had some
other kind of motivation.”
Last February, Apple published a note
on a support page that said the update “improves power management
during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.” It did
not specifically mention that Apple would slow down the phone to do this.
The company's shares were down slightly in Tuesday trading — less than 1 percent — closing at $166.97 per share.
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