For the love of everything remotely logical, please stop calling Apple’s decision to slow down iPhones with degraded batteries “planned obsolescence.” I have been the loudest to yell that Apple should have told users it was doing this, but it’s a case of corporate opacity, not planned obsolescence.
To wit, we have a report from French publication The Local over a suit in France from Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP – Stop Planned Obsolescence).
“Apple has put in place a global strategy of programmed obsolescence in order to boost its sales [of iPhones]” of new iPhones, the group said, according to The Local.
No. No it didn’t. That’s not what Apple did. There’s no indication nor evidence that Apple did so. What Apple did do was slow down some iPhones with degraded batteries. Not all old iPhones, some iPhones with degraded batteries. The company did this to make sure they didn’t unexpectedly shut down when those devices demanded more power than the degraded battery could offer.
Also, these aren’t faulty batteries, as I’ve seen in some reports, they’re degraded batteries. Batteries degrade. Depending on your use and charging habits, they can degrade at faster or slower rates. This is freaking science, people.
It’s the farthest thing from planned obsolescence that one can imagine. Or, as yours truly tweeted:
Anyone calling Apple’s battery/CPU scandal “planned obsolescence” doesn’t understand what “planned obsolescence” is. Or the battery/CPU thing. Or both.@jgamet and I talk about this on this week’s ACM:https://t.co/3UO0r5dCSz https://t.co/LyQ2GnGgnf
— Bryan Chaffin (@TMOBryan) December 28, 2017
Black Is White and Up Is Down
Here’s where it gets even stupider. French group HOP is suing based on a 2015 French law that made it a crime to “deliberately reduce the lifespan of a product to increase the rate of replacement.”
Hey, guess what, Apple’s action extends the usable life of iPhones with degraded batteries, not shortens it.
I’ve been ranting on this subject in our podcasts for a week, but let me say it here: Apple’s crime in this controversy is limited to not telling users what it was doing. Worse, lawsuits and articles like this one from The Local feed this stupid narrative that Apple artificially slows down all old iPhones, for which there is no evidence that Apple has ever done that sort of thing.
And these articles aren’t limited to France. I’ve seen them all over the mainstream and tech press. Seeking Alpha had one particularly bad piece titled “Apple’s Planned Obsolescence Strategy.” Fortunately, the site also ran a response piece called Apple: iPhone Throttling Is Not Planned Obsolescence, but there’s so much of this stuff out there, not to mention eight lawsuits in the U.S. with another in Israel, and this idiotic suit in France.
If Apple Wants Someone to Blame, It Should Look in the Corporate Mirror
Apple has only itself to blame. All Apple had to do was tell users their battery had degraded and that the device was being put in a special power-saving mode until that was done.
Because it didn’t, Apple loses these lawsuits no matter what happens in the courtroom. These suits and stories are going to feed this idiotic “planned obsolescence” cultural meme for years to come.