Joining several other parties in doing so, an anti-trust body in Italy today announced that it has opened a probe into Apple over allegations of planned obsolescence. Interestingly, the group is also investigating Samsung over similar claims…
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As reported by Reuters, the Italian watchdog says that neither Samsung nor Apple had informed customers that software updates could have a “negative impact on the performance of their phones.” The group says both are suspected of orchestrating updates that “induce consumers to buy new versions.”
If Italy’s antitrust investigation yields anything that finds the companies guilty, they could each face fines in the range of “multi-million euros” for infringing on four separate articles of Italy’s national consumer code.
Apple and Samsung are suspected of orchestrating “a general commercial policy taking advantage of the lack of certain components to curb the performance times of their products and induce consumers to buy new versions”, the watchdog said.
Italy’s investigation comes just a day after Tim Cook announced that Apple would offer users the ability to disable performance throttling at the risk of unexpected shutdowns. That option, however, won’t necessarily mitigate the claims of planned obsolescence against Apple as the throttling has been in place for nearly a year.
Of note, the Italian investigation doesn’t mention the specific instance of Apple throttling performance in the case of aging batteries. It’s likely that the investigation is broader in scale, but prompted by the battery throttling case.
As for Samsung’s involvement, the Italian watchdog doesn’t specifically reference the reasoning for the investigation.
As a result of consumer reports and pre-trial activity carried out by the Authority, the Authority decided to initiate two separate proceedings for unfair commercial practices against the companies of the Samsung group and the Apple group operating in Italy.
Apple is also facing an investigation in France, where laws against planned obsolescence are notoriously strict. The company also faces a myriad of lawsuits in around the world.
The Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato’s announcement can be read here.